Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1 (XB1) Review

It’s time to go back to Arcadia Bay.

For those that never experienced Life is Strange, it was a title that played much like the Telltale games. Narrative driven, choice decisions, affecting the story as the players see fit. It was like watching a high school drama story unfold but with mysterious forces of time involved. Those that could get hooked, found a very gripping story with shocking moments and revelations. Suffice to say, I never expected a prequel to the franchise and with that a new developer. Life is indeed strange.

Chloe don’t ya know

Here we see events that transpired before the original game. While we had lots of interaction and story driven moments involving Chloe in the base game, here we have control of her. Now that’s not to say players have to play the first game to grasp what’s happening here, but this only goes to show even more reasons Chloe is the way she is and how she became that way. It’s actually a much more dramatic tale than I expected, even just for the first episode.

MSRP: $5.99
Price I’d Pay: $5.99
Multiplayer: n/a
How long to beat: 2-3 hours

Introduced to familiar characters and locations, I find myself slowing getting involved in Life is Strange once more. The same feeling I got from the original, which was slow, somber, sometimes silly, sometimes sad is still here and this isn’t going to grasp players that failed to get into the first game. Even though this is developed by a completely different team, if I didn’t know prior, I’d have had a hard time telling. They perfectly nailed the atmosphere, storytelling, and voice acting to match or maybe even surpass the original. Even with the main actress changing due to voice acting strikes, I found the new voice matched well and both voices suite the character well without seeming totally different or out of place.

Other than maybe a few minor graphic upgrades, some better lip syncing, and a new story, most of the elements here are the same. Playing as Chloe, exploration, choice dialog, and finding item in the environment to use or pick up is the vast majority of the title. Those that played the first will get to see how Chloe met Rachel and their relationship grew. Since Chloe cannot rewind time, there is a new element that pops up sometimes called backtalk and it’s a mini game of sorts where using clues from the conversation a tug-of-war starts and can swing the discussion either in or against the players favor. It’s a nice diversion but ultimately feels a little lacking in comparison to the time elements in the first.

The story begins

This is just the first episode in a 3 part arc and it left me wanting more. While there is no time element here to mess with, the backtalk is interesting enough. Though story wise, there might be something going on, more than meets the eye if the end moments are any indication. Deck Nine has taken the franchise and totally captured what fans of the first game loved about it. The dialog, story, and drama that comes with it all. While there were a few moments of framerate stutter on the Xbox One, it was very few and far between. Otherwise, this was a solid first episode and if the quality keeps up, the entire prequel will be a nice companion pieces to the original game. Hopefully not taken anything away from it, but only adding more.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Written by
Justin is a long time passionate fan of games, not gaming drama. He loves anything horror related, archaeology inspired adventures, RPG goodness, Dr Pepper, and of course his family. When it comes to crunch time, he is a beast, yet rabies free we promise.