Thoughts on Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Episode 1 - “Awake”
This article contains spoilers for Life is Strange (2015).
It's been a struggle to find time to play all the games that have come out recently, but I had to make time for the first episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm last week. I've been looking forward to this for a while now, as Life is Strange is one of my all-time favorite games.
It's important to note that this is NOT Life is Strange 2; that is a separate project. Before the Storm, as the name suggests, is a prequel to the events of the original game. It takes place three years prior to the events of Life is Strange, and allows us to meet Chloe before she discovered hair dye...and before Max came back into her life.
Chloe is not voiced by her original voice actress Ashly Burch in BtS, and the game is not developed by Life is Strange creator Dontnod Entertainment; thankfully, the game has the same vibe as the original, and you wouldn't even know it was a different developer just by playing. Even though Burch couldn't lend her voice as Chloe, she still played a big role in the game; she worked very closely with developer Deck Nine to help develop the script and make sure this younger version of Chloe is consistent with the character Burch made us fall in love with in the original. Actress Rhianna DeVries plays Chloe in BtS, and does an excellent job. Because Chloe is younger, it also makes sense that her voice would sound a little different. If you're worried about Chloe's voice making the whole game seem "off," don't - it's hardly noticeable and doesn't take away from the game at all.
Overall, I really enjoyed the first episode. I really wasn't sure what to expect, because I purposely didn't watch the trailers so I would be surprised. It was awesome getting to know more about Chloe, and especially getting to know Rachel Amber and why Chloe cares for her so much. We also learn exactly why Chloe always uses the word "hella" all the time in the original game; I loathe the word, but I can appreciate it in the context of the game.
Looking at Chloe's journal and reading all her angsty, rage-filled notes made me think back to when I was that age. Writing has always been an escape for me, and when I was filled with teen angst, coupled with learning how to get over tragically losing a loved one, I had a journal I would write in when I needed to get my anger out. Since Chloe lost her dad tragically, she was feeling mad at the world. I can relate to that, and that made playing as Chloe even more meaningful for me.
I am really looking forward to seeing how the story plays out over the next two episodes. So far, my only complaint is that I don't know enough about Rachel Amber, and I'm sure we will learn much more over the next two episodes. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the direction this is going in, and I will be anxiously awaiting Episode 2 (which currently doesn't have a release date).
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