Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Life is Strange is, almost without question, one of the best of the recent influx of episodic titles with branching narratives. The game had a compelling mystery due to well-written characters and strong relationships. It's no wonder there would be interest in going back to Arcadia Bay. However, Before the Storm is a prequel game, dealing with events that take place years before the first title. How is a game built around player choice and multiple potential paths supposed to work, considering that we already know what's going to happen to many of these characters? I had a chance to sit down with the team behind Life is Strange: Before the Storm during San Diego Comic-Con and I asked them this exact question. According to lead writer Zak Gariss, the choice will come, in large part, from the player's ability to add substance to ideas that are only hinted at in the previous game. As Gariss explained...

In the case of the Life is Strange universe, the way that Chloe talks to Max about Rachel in the first game is very deliberate, it's very careful, it's very vague. Even to Max, Chloe doesn't share details about what her relationship was like with Rachel, only that it was significant and it clearly affected her in really deep ways. But the how and the when and the wherefore, all that's left to the imagination. That gave us a lot of freedom to situate our story to turn our lens to that particular chapter in Chloe's life and to say well that's what this is going to be about.

In the original Life is Strange we know that Chloe Price and Rachel Amber were very close friends, that Rachel was essentially the only friend Chloe had after Max left town. However, it's never stated bluntly just what that relationship was. Were they simply best friends, or was the relationship romantic? That's a major detail that the first game leaves out, and it meant the people at Deck Nine had some place where they could create options for players. I had a chance to play through a small portion of the new title at SDCC, as well as watch a couple more sequences and it seemed fairly clear from what I saw that while the game will certainly create a relationship between these characters, exactly what that relationship looks like will be up to you as you make decisions.

We know the person that Chloe Price will become because we see her in Life is Strange, that aspect of the character is essentially fixed, so there are some things that Before the Storm can't impact. However, it does certainly have the potential to fill in the backstory, in whatever way you choose. Exactly what Chloe looks like in Life is Strange may be decided, but who she really is underneath that blue hair will be open for the player to decide.

The first of three episodes of Life is Strange: Before the Storm is set for release August 31. Square Enix and original developer Dontnod, are also working on a follow-up title.

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