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Crazycrab

review
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episodes 1 - 3: Crabby Review

5 posts in this topic

Life-is-Strange-Before-the-Storm-main-1.

 

 

Let me start of by saying Merry Christmas to all of you and a Happy New Year for when it comes.

 

I’d normally begin my review of PC games with a tech report but here there's very little point here, I’m playing at 2K on the max settings the game will allow and I’m hitting the buffers at 144 FPS in a game where frames and resolutions barely even matter…. just like in the original so regardless of you system you should manage especially if you played the original already.  I'll leave links to Steam at the and so you check minimum and recommend from there and of course they are both available on PS4 and XBox One as well.

 

Well let’s get started:

 

Presentation:  5/10

 

The graphics seem a bit downgraded which is weird for a game with this kind of art style.  This is probably partly due to the switch form Unreal Engine to Unity but that’s not an excuse for the game like this to look worse than the one that came out nearly 3 years prior.

 

 

 

It looks more washed out with noticeably uglier textures dotted here and there with less convincing lighting, weather and water effects and animations seem stiffer to.  Maybe Unity is cheaper to develop on or the new developer (Deck Nine) is more used to working with it or something but it definitely has not worked to this game's favour.

 

The music and sound design are on par with the original in terms of quality but it’s not quite as memorable.  It’s the sort of soundtrack you forget kinda quickly whereas the original sticks with you.  It’s good, but just not as good.

 

Sadly the most important component of the audio, the voice acting is another downgrade.   I feel bad about saying it because it’s not really the devs fault.  Key cast members including the lead had to be changed because of the SAG-AFTRA strike.  Which neatly leads us onto the next section.


 

Characters, Story and Writing:  6/10 (4/10)

 

The game of course predates the events of Life is Strange by 3 years with Chloe as the main playable protagonist and focuses her relationship with Rachel, the “missing” girl from the first game.  It explains how they met and ultimately bonded, with only the first 3 Episodes in the bag as of now the story isn’t complete so I’m only going to draw conclusions and analyse the characters based on what we have right now but my opinion may change in the future with further content.

 

They got Rhianna DeVries to replace Ashly Burch and I give her credit as she has clearly put a lot of effort in and it is the best performance in the game but Chloe just isn't the same.  She seemed much more spunk and energy when it was Ashley doing the voice but Ashly is making a return for the Bonus episode with Max so at least we have that to look forward to.

 

 

 

This could be more the fault of the writing which affects everyone.  I believe I heard one guy on YouTube describe as “a bit Lucas” and I have to agree.  The character that suffers the most for this by far is Rachel so she’s the one I will use to illustrate this.  I will be going into some spoilers here but if you have played the original (maybe even if you haven't) then what I’m about to spoil is something you probably would have guessed anyway but still you have been warned.

 

 

Spoiler

 

My feelings about Rachel remind of a bit I saw in an old Nostalgia Critic episode of The Haunting Remake with regards to the character Theo.

 

 

Stop at around 8:10

 

I post this video because frankly… I have an almost identical list of complaints about the way they have handled Rachel.  In the original game the possible lesbian/bisexual feelings between the two leads just like in the original Haunting movie was played subtly without spelling it out and for similar reasons, it works to the game's advantage.  While playing as Max there is more tension between her and Chloe because the nature of the relationship isn’t so clear cut.  As the player you feel that conflict, meaning your choices and what you say to her feel like they more weight and consequence.

 

With Chloe and Rachel it's WAY to brazen and obvious, It almost feels like a typical Disney fairy tale romance, meet, fall in love after 3 days, done!  It even gets to a point where Rachel damn near makes an open declaration on one knee holding Chloe’s hand in front of a crowd after they had known each other only 2 days!  Yeah… subtle!

 

dzj1XCn.jpg

“Fuck….  I’m surprised they didn’t just change her name to Liz Biehn that’s how frigging obvious it is!” - Nostalgia Critic

 

When you consider the amount of time that actually passes between now and the original the whole thing feels way to rushed and poorly thought out.  It’s like they felt like they had to establish them as a item as quickly as fucking possible.  As a result the major choices don't fell like the matter as much if even at all.... Take a look at this for example, Chloe has to ask Rachel for something to solidify their trust and here are the choices:

 

CYIX9tR.png

 

She could give her Bracelet, which we know ends up in the hands of Frank no matter what.

 

She could get a tattoo of a Star on her left arm, which we know she gets anyway as described in her Missing poster in original game.

 

Or the only choice that isn’t totally redundant which is a passionate kiss……  So, which are you gonna choose?

 

 

Despite how much I feel about some poor writing and character choices the story is actually fairly strong and with its share of funny, dramatic and intense moments.  Even though it has bane of prequel curse where I already know some of what ultimately happens I still kept me for the most part guessing and wanting to know how it ultimately connects and it kept me going.   I still like these characters and want where it goes from here, I just hope what has to come doesn’t feel the need to establish things quite so damn fast!

 

EDIT:  I was kinda running the assumption there was more story to come, although I do still think that is likely to happen I'm going post my thoughts on the way(s) this game ends right as it is now, and it does change some of my opinions quite dramatically!  Some of my scores will be adjusted with this in mind and next to my previously posted scores and highlighted in green.

Since of course this of course contains spoilers for both titles..... well you know the drill:

 

Spoiler

THEY SUCK!

There have been allot of people that complain about the way the original game ends since the whole story and every choice you made really only comes down the one decision right at the end...... and yeah I can see why allot of people are pissed at it.  I however do solemnly swear that with no word of a lie that Before the Storm...... is even worse!  There is no ending here, it's just the point the devs decided to stop making the fucking game!

 

The final choice of whether to tell Rachel the truth about her birth mother means literally nothing.  It seems like genuinely tense a choice where Chloe has either do the honourable thing and potentially drive a wedge between not just Rachel and her parents but herself as well or selfishly sugarcoat the situation with a lie keeping everybody happy and live with the guilt.  Other than Rachel falling out with her Father the end decision has no consequence at all, leaves a ton of loose ends and then just..... stops!  It's underwhelming, lazy sequel bait trash! The end cutscene is almost identical regardless of which choice you make, don't believe me hear they are!

 

 

 

At least with the original Life is Strange I consistently enjoyed my journey and exploring the different choices and possibilities even if they do turn out not to mean as much as I would have thought.  Not to mention the endings being actual conclusions that tied up.  I didn't even get that limited amount of satisfaction with Before the Storm!  What effect does telling Rachel the truth have in regards to the relationship with her birth mother (they don't even bother to try and find her for fucks sake!), who is the person that Rachel met and according to her "changed her life", what happened in the months leading up to her disappearance, does Damon get his just desserts?  This is just a fraction of what is never explained!    It is THAT bad!

 

 


 

Gameplay: 4/10


 

This is where the package ultimately fails the most for me.  Allot of games like this are derogatorily described as “walking simulators” which I think is very unfair and can’t help but feel that people who use it are missing the point.  Despite all that I’m afraid to say…… this kind of is a walking simulator…... with talking.

 

The basic structure for most of the game is literally walk here, investigate that, talk to him, have a cutscene, walk back, and so on….  The original Life is Strange as well the likes of Beyond Two Souls, some action games like The Last of Us and even a number of first Person shooters manage to tell way more of their story and have character interaction though active gameplay rather than relying connecting cutscenes most of the time….. which this game does!

 

Another thing is Chloe's dialogue influence ability which replaces Max’s reversing time mechanic. I get that they couldn't do that again but It’s nowhere near as fun, engaging or fresh as what they had before.  It’s not the worst Idea since smart talking her way out of a situation definitely suits Chloe’s character and it does do it in a slightly more original way that most but it doesn't change the fact that we see these kind of mechanics all the time.  I didn’t find it very challenging either, for most of these all you have to do is pick the choice that features a word the NPC just said.  It also ties it into the aforementioned problem of so much more of the game being within cutscenes.

 

There are so many points when I felt I should have had some interaction during a cutscene but didn't and that’s’ annoying!  I’ll post an example behind a SPOILER.

 

Spoiler

 

There is a confrontation scene with a villain in the junkyard.  At a point there is a struggle and the guy drops his knife. I was just waiting for a prompt to pick it up then threaten or attack him but Chloe frustratingly doesn’t do anything resulting in someone getting hurt.  In the hospital later Chloe even mentions how she should have went for it and I’m just just thinking “Yeah, I really wish I COULD have!

 

 

Final Verdict: 6/10 (4/10)


The writing doesn't feel as natural, the performances aren't as convincing and the fundamental design of the gameplay is nowhere near as compelling or interactive.  I feel like I’m in cutscenes way more than in the original which had allot more happening during actual gameplay.  This however is all in comparison to game that I would rate about a 9/10 so it’s certainly not as shameful as it sounds.  There are some fun and interesting moments but ultimately, taking the reins on a project with as much acclaim as this is a herculean task and is going have close scrutiny and criticism no matter what.  There will of course be those that will defend it no matter what, I myself have been heavily critical here but I like to think I’ve been as constructive and as honest as I can.  Each Episode takes roughly an an hour to hour and a half so it is a fair amount of content for the price.

 

I can only truly recommend this if you are a fan of the the original even then it's not a strong one. If you haven't played it then try Episode 1 for free first before getting drawn to this prequel.

 

Life is Strange, Steam

Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Steam

 

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I knew this game is a waste of time since it's a prequel to Life is Strange, and your choice in this game will never matter considering what happen in the main game. Such a shame. But on the bright side, Life is Strange 2 is in development, and the same dev is currently making a game called Vampyr, which I am looking forward to.

 

BTW there's only 3 episodes for this prequel. There won't be episode 4 - 5 like the main game.

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6 hours ago, Kaz32 said:

BTW there's only 3 episodes for this prequel. There won't be episode 4 - 5 like the main game.

 

We know that there is a bonus episode coming and a season 2 for Before the Storm is still on the cards.  Despite my mixed feelings I hope there is because there is still a huge gap between this and the original that needs to be filled.

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20 hours ago, Crazycrab said:

 

We know that there is a bonus episode coming and a season 2 for Before the Storm is still on the cards.  Despite my mixed feelings I hope there is because there is still a huge gap between this and the original that needs to be filled.

 

Ah, that one. That's about Max before she left Arcadia it seems, which I expect will be pretty heartwarming, before everything went to shit years later in the main game. Maybe we'll get a bit of an answer, like how on earth did she get her time manipulation ability in the first place. I personally want her to get struck with a Stand Arrow and develop a stand called "One More Time", buuuut this ain't Jojo's Bizarre Adventure so we'll have to take something more straightforward. :D

 

According to wiki, Life is Strange 2 will feature new characters and new locations. Not sure how it'll work but we shall see. Hopefully this time the choices you make throughout the game will matter, because the first game did is so well, until episode 5's ending ruins all of it. Urgh.

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On 30/12/2017 at 11:17 AM, Kaz32 said:

 

Ah, that one. That's about Max before she left Arcadia it seems, which I expect will be pretty heartwarming, before everything went to shit years later in the main game. Maybe we'll get a bit of an answer, like how on earth did she get her time manipulation ability in the first place. I personally want her to get struck with a Stand Arrow and develop a stand called "One More Time", buuuut this ain't Jojo's Bizarre Adventure so we'll have to take something more straightforward. :D

 

According to wiki, Life is Strange 2 will feature new characters and new locations. Not sure how it'll work but we shall see. Hopefully this time the choices you make throughout the game will matter, because the first game did is so well, until episode 5's ending ruins all of it. Urgh.

 

Just in case we don't get a true conclusion to Before the Storm I've made some edits to my original post.

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