Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake Review

The Original Life Is Strange story introduced us to a whole new way of how we see and a play a game, even for a telltale game. You build connections with not only Max Caulfield–your lead character–but every character that you encounter that you meet along the way. Every connection/every emotion feels real to a point that you can relate to how nearly every character feels or you choose to feel for that character. With Max’s special rewind powers you were able to recap or change how you approached a situation varying on your knowledge from discovering details about a specific character and or your photographic memory, the game challenged you to make a careful decision each time you were giving the option to rewind a certain activity or a verbal interaction, sometimes even limiting you of your ability to rewind all together. Each Episode was filled with heart pounding moments as they touched on sensitive, controversial subjects that aren’t normally approached in any video game which made the game feel personal as the emotions you felt brought you back to those dark times as a teenager, or if you still are, or just had a similar event happened to you. It wasn’t just a cliché teenage, high school game, Dontnode wanted you to connect with the game and its characters and really wanted to tell a story that no other game has told.

Life is strange was filled with a verity of lovable characters and characters that you just despise from beginning to end, but there was only one other character that we felt the biggest connection towards and that was Chloe Price, you couldn’t help but want to know more of what happened to her and how she got to that stage in her life despite the game slightly explaining that around the third episode. In Before the storm we finally get to relive the life of the tattooed, blue-haired, punk rock, bad ass… before she was the bad ass that all we know and love today.

Episode 1: Awake takes use back just years after the passing of Chloe’s father and before Max returned to Arcadia Bay. Of course we also finally get the experience of meeting the one and only Rachael Amber for the first time as well. The game looks, feels, and sounds the same from the original, but it’s come prepared with some new minor improvements to the its character details and facial expressions as well as a whole new character feature to fit Chloe’s personality. It doesn’t feel as awkward playing as Chloe as it did for the most part playing as Max; there’s a much more vibrant tone throughout every character, including Chloe of course, which makes the game feel more colorful and enjoyable.

One of the things that I noticed first hand was how you save intractable images into your journal. Similar to how Max would snap a Polaroid image into her journal, Chloe’s way is a little more… well… Chloe, as she pops out a marker from her pocket giving you options to tag a certain object with graffiti. Exploring Chloe’s creative mind and what she can do with a marker is so satisfying than I would have thought as some things that she would write down will make laugh almost every time.

Another new feature that definitely stands out the most from the last game is the brand new “Backtalk” mini game which you use arguments and insults to get someone to do what you want. Too succeed in a argument, you must pay close attention to what your opponent says. key words can help your chances if targeted properly. Avoid or use the key word wrong and your opponent can own you. It’s a fun mini game of verbal tug-of-war that test your back talk skills if you will with only a few seconds to react. I’ve only lost one Backtalk segment in my time of playing through the episode (I’m coming for you David). It’s a challenge I can redo over just to see what my outcome will be.

As if back talking, and graffiti wasn’t fitting enough for Chloe’s persona, new developers Deck Nine has introduced an new and more classy way to check in on your your character’s mission objective. And what better way to do so then to have all your notes right there with you written down …on your hand, yes your heard me, having your objectives written on your hand is classy and dare I say revolutionary at best. It’s a nifty tool to be quite honest with just a hold down on the LT/L2 Chloe will look down at her hand reveling her objective of that mission. One thing I find clever about that little detail is that those same notes on her hand stay on her hand as shes roaming around interacting with other characters rather then only popping up when you view it and disappear when you’re in a cut-scene like I originally thought would happen.

On the other hand–no pun intended–the games all-out character features have made some slight improvements to the its character’s facial features as well as how the story progresses to the next cut-scenes. Normally when you reach a intractable where you would most times press a button and saunter and press to resume to playing, Before the storm adds a little twist to that. Where some spots are the usual press and go feature, some areas and people you encounter, such as listening to a full song is in fact an option that you now possess giving you the choice to enjoy yourself and enjoy the tunes till the very end or sample them and cut straight to the chase. No consequence occur if you listen all the way through or not but it is a nice addition to sit back listen.

Moving on to the character development, unlike how the first Life Is Strange had its dull, expressionless characters, and slightly poorly synced dialogue, Before the storm’s characters are filled with more facial expressions and a more improved synced dialogue that brings the characters to life a lot more by comparison. However, even with the new improvements that are more like a pinch of salt of an improvement, the game still has a it’s lacked moments of stiff dialogue that just feels like the lines were just read off a script with no expression whatsoever towards each others character. It’s not one that is entirely a bad thing but it is noticeable at the times that it does occur.

For the most part, Life is Strange: Before the Storm episode. 1: Awake doesn’t fail to make its presences known. With new ways to express Chloe’s emotions and attitude, not to mention the new added option to change Chloe’s outfit with extra outfits only available to those who bought the deluxe edition, you have a little more freedom to be your own version of Chloe how you see fit.

My only concern from here is that this season is only three episodes long instead of the usual five that we’re so accustomed to which makes wonder how they’re going to share Chloe’s story moving forward. With only two episodes left and the first episode’s ending feeling somewhat rushed or cut short, despite it being a decent five hours of solid gameplay, I’m not too convinced three episodes will in fact be enough to tell her entire story, especially since I wasn’t exactly too convinced by how episode one ended, it wasn’t exactly the cliffhanger ending that the original was so excellent at delivering. Still it is a little early to judge just yet but hopefully we get a longer episode that goes more into depth of the characters and it’s plot so we can get a little more clarity of what exactly is going to happen in the long run.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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