Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Mar 072018
 

“Farewell,” the bonus episode for Life is Strange: Before the Storm, is available now.

It’s only about an hour long, and it doesn’t add much to the story, but I’d still like to share my thoughts on it.

(For a series where I’ve been dissatisfied with the conclusions of both games, I sure do end up writing about Life is Strange an awful lot.)

“Farewell” is a standalone episode that takes place earlier in the timeline, before Max moved away.

It manages to be both happy and heartbreaking at the same time: happy because you get to see Max and Chloe having fun together, and heartbreaking because you know how it all works out.

Happy, non-cynical Chloe is my favorite Chloe, so I enjoyed getting to see at least a little of her.

There really isn’t a lot to this episode. No big revelations, nothing much we didn’t already know… but it was short and sweet (and sad), and it filled me with nostalgia for the days when I was a kid hanging out with my friends. Back then, I couldn’t imagine anything more terrible than moving away and leaving my friends, so Max’s worries resonated with me.

And the ending hit me especially hard because of things that happened in my life earlier this year.

I think that’s part of what makes the Life is Strange games so effective despite their flaws. They feel real. They evoke nostalgia. Their endings might fall flat in some ways, but the journey there is strong.

So even though I have mixed feelings about both Life is Strange and Before the Storm, I enjoyed “Farewell” and I’m looking forward to learning more about Life is Strange 2. According to the official announcement, they’ll announce the story and characters in “the coming months.”

Maybe this time we’ll get a happy ending.

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Dec 222017
 

The final episode of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is now out. There’s still the bonus episode, but since that isn’t part of the main story, we can consider Before the Storm complete.

In many ways, Before the Storm is a lot different than the original Life is Strange, and not just because the main character is Chloe. It doesn’t have the same intensity and darkness. Before the Storm could be emotional at times, but not in the same overwhelming way as the first game.

At times, it almost feels like more of a slice-of-life story, even though it definitely has some pretty serious moments. The first two episodes were fantastic and really made me excited to learn how everything would come together. Unfortunately, Episode 3 is easily the weakest.

It felt very linear, without a lot of important choices, and while that wouldn’t be bad if it brought everything from the first two episodes together into a solid conclusion, it didn’t quite manage that. It felt like it set things up but then didn’t follow through.

Click for Before the Storm spoilers
The fire was a huge moment at the end of Episode 1, but it remains a background event. Rachel doesn’t have powers, they don’t deal with the consequences of her causing so much destruction… nothing.

Why was Sera smiling at the end of Episode 1? Seeing her smile as the fire spread made her seem like a very sinister person, which doesn’t fit the Sera we see in Episode 3.

Moving on to Rachel, I didn’t expect Episode 3 to give a definite answer on whether or not Rachel was manipulative, but I thought it would come up. Maybe we’d see more evidence one way or another. Maybe Chloe would have to deal with figuring out Rachel’s intentions. Instead, it was dropped and only referenced by Eliot.

Ah, Eliot. My theory about Eliot turned out to be correct, but it felt pointless. I thought he would be tied into the plot somehow. Instead, the entire Eliot scene in Episode 3 could be removed and change nothing. Did they just want a stalker character? Or was the point to give all of the “Rachel is manipulative” arguments to a crazy character, so it could be shot down without dealing with it in a more meaningful way?

Finally, while I didn’t pursue a romantic path with Rachel, I get the impression I saw about as much romance in Episode 3 as anyone else did. Instead of continuing the Friendship/Romance split paths, Episode 3 returned to being more ambiguous no matter what you picked.

And strangely, while Before the Storm is Chloe’s story, it always felt like the story of Chloe and Rachel… until Episode 3, where their friendship takes a backseat to Rachel’s family, and Rachel herself is less present for a lot of the episode.

Still, Before the Storm had some fantastic moments, even if its conclusion wasn’t the best. The tabletop game in Episode 1, the play in Episode 2, most of the dream scenes… it was filled with great moments.

It also feels like a much happier story than the original, despite some emotional moments, as long as you pretend it isn’t a prequel. Since it is a prequel, it’s hard to escape the feeling that no matter what choices you make, you can’t really change anything.

Click for Life Is Strange (both) spoilers
I tried to make peace with David and accepted his photograph, but in three years, Chloe will still hate him.

My game ended with Nathan and Samantha happy together, but in three years he’ll be a wreck, not getting the help he needs, kidnapping and murdering people while being used and ultimately disposed of by Jefferson.

Chloe and Rachel are happy together now, but in three years, Rachel will be dead, and either Chloe or the entire town will have to die.

It was nice to go through Before the Storm thinking that maybe the right choices will actually create an alternate timeline not canon with the original game… but the post-credits scene destroyed any hope of that.

Just like with the original Life Is Strange, the conclusion of Before the Storm feels unsatisfactory and maybe like they intended to do something different and changed their minds near the end. Nevertheless, it still had many good moments and is even a somewhat happy story if you pretend it stands alone!

What did you think about Life Is Strange: Before the Storm?

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Nov 082017
 

After Episode 1 of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, I discussed several theories.

Now it’s time to do the same in the aftermath of Episode 2, “Brave New World.”

Spoiler warning: this post will include spoilers for Before the Storm Episode 2. If you don’t want events in Episode 2 spoiled for you, turn back now.

Last time, one of my biggest concerns was about whether or not Rachel Amber could actually be trusted. I’d hoped the next episode would help me decide, but instead, it only left me more conflicted.

Is Rachel Manipulative?

At the start of Episode 1, I thought my concerns were resolved. When Rachel lied to cover for Chloe in the principal’s office, my feelings toward her significantly improved. She was a nice person after all and she didn’t want her new friend to get in trouble!

I felt so kindly toward Rachel, I took the blame after all. In the next scene, however, Eliot asked if Rachel got off completely free and seemed skeptical about Chloe’s claim that Rachel tried to cover for her. That left me with the unsettling feeling that Rachel had manipulated me, the player, into protecting her.

The later dream sequence is the greatest source for my continued mistrust of Rachel.

In the nightmare (which includes another raven, a recurring motif in Before the Storm), Chloe speaks with her father, William. He tells her that darkness blinds with absence and loss, but fire blinds with beauty.

After how the first episode ended, it’s hard not to associate Rachel Amber with fire. Is the dream trying to warn Chloe that Rachel’s beauty and charm might blind her to her true nature? If it was an isolated line, it might be dismissed, but the rest of William’s comments make it clear he’s trying to warn Chloe about the “fire.”

The final scene that left me uncertain about Rachel was The Tempest. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the scene. I’m a Shakespeare fan to start with, and when Rachel went off-script, that was a great moment!

Except she went off-script to say that she (Prospero) would deny Chloe (Ariel) her liberty. After the ensuing discussion, she vows to eventually make her so happy, she won’t care about liberty.

Now, I can definitely see how this scene has been interpreted as romantic or heartwarming. If I had no doubts about Rachel, I probably wouldn’t have any doubts about this scene. But together with her earlier manipulative behavior and Dream William’s warnings, this scene came across as slightly obsessive to me… and I would have liked a line about how I could have liberty if I decided I wanted it after all, thank you.

What About Eliot?

Moving on from Rachel, I’d also like to briefly discuss Eliot. Eliot has generally come across as Chloe’s equivalent of Warren, a good friend with unrequited romantic feelings.

Some people thought Warren was a little creepy in the original game, but while I didn’t pick up on that, it’s definitely a bit creepy that Eliot’s search history includes multiple searches about Chloe.

Not only that, but if you talk to Samuel about Eliot, he says he can see what most people want to keep hidden… but not Eliot. With Eliot, Samuel can only see what he wants to be seen.

A developer also commented in a discussion of Eliot’s similarities to Warren saying it would be very interesting to revisit the topic after the end of the game.

One way or another, it seems there’s more to Eliot than meets the eye.

Conclusion

Damon and possibly Sera seem to be on track as Before the Storm’s major antagonists, but can we trust Rachel and Eliot? What do you think? Are there any other suspicions and theories you have about characters in Before the Storm?

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