Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 Review – It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to
“Hello darkness, my old friend.” …At least that’s what I was murmuring to myself after my disastrous encounter with the first episode in the fan-favorite series. To be perfectly honest, it was difficult to play Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 without fearing for the worst. And alas… the worst has come to pass and the storm surge has washed away whatever little there was to salvage in this series.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 Review
Actually, that’s not entirely true. There is one thing that Before the Storm didn’t completely ruin, but I will get to that momentarily. But what does the delinquent pothead turned-drug-money collector (or whatever the hell these people are called) have in store to redeem herself as a character? Is she the game’s sole saving grace that I mentioned earlier? Two words: hell no!
Life is Strange is too concerned in destroying any semblance of sympathy and rationality left in its feverish narrative. I mentioned in my review of the previous episode that there was something in the writing that seemed to carry leading girl Chloe in a better direction. How wrong I was about this. In fact, I was so wrong, that I’ve realized that no matter what my choices are, the narrative will automatically readjust to what Chloe wants. What I mean by this is that no matter what you choose your “answers” to be in certain pivotal moments of the game, Life is Strange will conveniently pull a deus-ex-machina plot device to shift the narrative in a certain direction. As a result, whatever you choose is essentially null. If such is the case, then why does developer Deck Nine even bother in giving the player the illusion of choice? Why pretend to give the player a sense of freedom when this is ultimately left in the hands of the insufferable leading characters?
Now, I say “characters” because not only Chloe gets to decide the direction the story will go, but her love interest Rachel does as well. And some direction it is…Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 is not in the least concerned in what the player wants, but in fulfilling the selfish, immature irresponsibility of Chloe and Rachel. And there are three moments that defined this for me:
Chloe and Rachel are confronted by the school principal for skipping school. What do you choose: to save yourself or save Rachel?
Chloe and Rachel start becoming closer with each other? What do you choose: to accept Rachel’s advances or to reject them altogether?
Chloe and Rachel confront Rachel’s parents in a key moment at the end of the game. What do you choose: to support Rachel or to play it safe?
I actually went out of my way to pick the most negative outcomes for all three scenarios in order to verify my suspicions. And, guess what? I was right. My choices didn’t make a lousy difference. In the end, either Chloe pulled the narrative in her direction, or Rachel intervened in one way or another to make their will happen. I want to know why is Life is Strange: Before the Storm so concerned in having the player think he has a choice in these actions when it’s all left up to the developers (and the fans)? After all, Deck Nine and the fans are dying to see Chloe and Rachel sail away on the best “ship” since the Titanic.
Furthermore, the sleazy writing that watered down any sense of urgency and gravity in the first episode is back. However, this time it’s even more jam-packed of visual motifs that will cause a high school tween’s hair to turn blue from all the glee. The callbacks to other (more popular) icons are endless, but here are some of the ones I spotted: Breaking Bad, Birdman, Megan Fox, Mila Kunis, Illuminati pyramid (or Illuminati confirmed), Google Chrome, Twin Peaks, and arguably Wes Anderson’s filmography (to some degree). I could be missing more, but then again who knows. I might go back and revisit this aspect of the game once the entire series is complete. Does borrowing from all these cultural aspects make the game more relevant? Not in the slightest when it’s shoehorning these tips as plot devices: “how to delete browser history, how to use incognito tab.”
As for the only “thing” surviving the Chloe-&-Rachel hurricane is a character named Drew. This character in question comes out unscathed and is arguably the best one in the game. This is simply because he is the only character driven by an empathetic motivation. While the game showed him in a different light in Episode 1, his character blossoms into something much more believable, albeit melodramatic. The entire endeavor surrounding Drew makes me realize an even more tragic twist of fate: this series is a complete misfire because of the toxic femininity materialized in Chloe and Rachel.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 continues the string of bad decisions from developer Deck Nine. Instead of constructing a cohesive narrative with genuine pathos, the developer is deeply concerned on whether Chloe and Rachel will be shipped together once and for all. Never mind all the other decisions you have made up to this point. Love conquers all in the end– even if you disagree. Oh, and it makes no difference that Chloe and Rachel’s “forbidden” ship is capsizing other key vessels in the vicinity, like their parents, their education, or their future careers.
The only thing Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 confirms is that in the advent of the new generations, the only things that (should) matter are me, myself, and I. Do whatever feels right and screw everyone else. Such a lovely, all-inclusive and accepting message to impart to the youth. This message is most certainly not for an “old fart” like moi.