That’s all I could mumble after playing Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s first episode. I was that impressed. As I’m used to doing with these types of games, I played this episode in one sitting. Me manning the controls, the wife on the couch next to me acting as moral compass, the little padawan snoring happily in his bed and our cat Dame Lemmy Von Motörhead nestled warmly in my lap. Nothing could go wrong.
Yet several things did go wrong… For our protagonist Chloe. And I liked it.
In Before the Storm you play as Chloe, who appeared in the previous installment of Life is Strange, but this episode takes place three years before that. Chloe is struggling at school, is rebelling against her mom and stepdad. She misses her father tremendously and tries to deal with her best friend Max leaving. She’s still writing letters to Max, but never sends them out. It seems Chloe is stuck in a downward spiral until Rachel, the school’s most popular girl, suddenly takes an interest in her. The pair seems destined for each other, and together take a decision that sets the mood for upcoming episodes.
When expecting a lot of action or rewind-based superpowers, you’re better off sticking tot he first game. Nothing of that here. Chloe is your average run-of-the-mill angsty teen, but equipped with a quick wit and snarkiness. The only superpower she has, is an uncanny aptitude for backtalking. The game tries to incorporate this in special dialogue segments. Each time Chloe enters one of these, players have to keep an eye on whatever the other character says and try to react accordingly. There are, of course, many different ways a conversation can go, and every one of them has consequences along the road. Mindless playing is discouraged at all times!
As much as I was blown away by the story, the art-style and the soundtrack of the game really completed the package for me. I paused the game regularly to browse to Chloe’s awesomely drawn scrapbook, and my foot was tapping rhythmically along with the shoe-gazing soundtrack by London-based band Daughter.
So yeah: Wow. I can’t wait for episodes 2 and 3 and the bonus episode that comes with the special deluxe edition.