Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 Review – Still in Diapers
If our review of the original Life is Strange series was any indication, we at Gamers Heroes have a sweet and sour relationship with this franchise. And that is not because of the spoiled milk, overcooked bacon, and burnt eggs at Chloe’s breakfast table. We’re not trying to be haters here…but it must be said: this franchise is not for everybody. At least not for anyone over the age of 16.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 Review
Life is Strange: Before the Storm begins some three years before the original story, and focuses on the life of victim Chloe Price as she makes her way through school, her sassy diner mom, her jarhead-obsessed stepfather, and the strenuous difficulties of PMS. Eventually, you will meet Rachel Amber, the girl Chloe’s been waiting for in order to turn her life around. To get to her, you must go past the game’s opening act, which involves drinking booze, smoking a joint (or trying to), scribbling graffiti on things, and getting decked in the face for picking a fight with two drunk junkies. By going through that Real World segment, you understand that leading girl Chloe isn’t necessarily the most sympathetic drama queen out there. Eventually, you will meet Rachel Amber, the girl Chloe’s been waiting for in order to turn her life around.
Unfortunately, before that happens, the game actually encourages Chloe to be an even bigger bitch to people around her through the use of a “backtalk” mechanic. While you don’t have to resort to the Mean Girls’ comebacks, the game actually rewards you for doing so. Notwithstanding, the bitchy quips lead to some very interesting conversations. One of these happens between Chloe and the school principal, in which he points out her drug use and is about to bust her open after school. And how does a 16-year old, delinquent pothead squeeze out of this one? By telling the principal that she knows “too much” information about the school’s dealings. Immediately after, the principal replies that “he will let this go… for now.”
And that’s only the beginning of the awkward conversations. Life is Strange: Before the Storm features some of the most mind-boggling written dialogue that I have heard in 2017. I mean, I get it. It is 2017, and most kids probably do speak like cocky sailors on barroom stalls dropping F-bombs and “like” in every sentence. However, this does not excuse exchanges such as:
Hey, you didn’t get that scar from punching so and so.
Um, how do you know that?
Oh, because I reenacted a scene from Dr. Who during a play a few years ago.
And the pop-culture references don’t just build the dialogue, but the plot devices as well. The opening sequence finds Chloe sneaking into some backwoods concert of the band Firewalk (taken from Twin Peaks). And what is up with the “Illuminati confirmed” meme being plastered all over the game? There is the pyramid with the eye in the middle of it being used as the game’s saving icon. You can also change Chloe’s badass getup to something more hip and edgy that has a rocking butterfly…or you can settle for “Illuminati confirmed.” A colleague of mine once said something similar, but I have to say it again regardless: meme-dropping, pop culture references, “slut shaming” your classmates, and praising the Blade Runner Director’s Cut does not equate to solid storytelling.
Now, that’s not to say everything about Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 is bad. That is simply not the case. Buried deep within the game’s obnoxious interactions, there is a Chloe that wants to change for the better. A Chloe that wishes to switch the cattiness and dick jokes for something deeper, truer, mature, and much more substantial. The only problem lies in finding a player who will be engaged enough to stick around to witness it. Actually, what am I saying? I lie in the minority on this one. Plenty others will press on to see Chloe undergo the diaper-to-tampon transformation. I hope they don’t suffer from rheumatism or menopause in the process. This game can be a taxing experience on your system, and who knows exactly how long it’ll be before that change happens.
That being said, Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 is not for moi, and that’s final.