Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 2 (Xbox One Review)
So, here we are again at the behest of two star-crossed lovers. A tale, not in the making, but already made. Yet, somehow it was steeped in a mystery of “will they/won’t they” until the first episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm (which you can read about here). But does Episode 2 pick up the slack?
The latest episode of Before the Storm continues directly after the previous episode ends, furthering Chloe’s journey towards the lovable rebel we all met in Life is Strange. Although in contrast to the previous episode, it now feels like Chloe and Rachel have something to fight for; each other. When Chloe sought confrontation in the first episode, it often felt misguided and harsh. After the turmoil of losing her dad and dealing with her mother moving on, she would often come across as bratty and unlikeable.
Although, in Episode 2 we see the softer side of Chloe. A more devoted and loving side; the kind that could see her future and wanted to share it with someone. That someone being Rachel. On top of that, we start to scratch beneath the surface on Rachel and her home life. We see a devoted and caring family pushing their daughter towards greatness when all she wants to be is herself. Both these aspects really blossom in a far more touching tale than I thought possible after the series’ opening.
The soundtrack has also doubled down on its strengths after the first episode, finding the perfect moments to compliment the more human side of Chloe. You’ll be hard pressed to find a song that doesn’t perfectly fit the ambient warm rays of sun beating down on Chloe at the end of the day.
What has remained as a constant is Before The Storm’s overall lack of any meaningful gameplay or decisions. Again, we are tasked to graffiti a select few improvised blank canvases and disregard whoever they might belong to – even if that person happens to actually show compassion for Chloe when others don’t. Unlike the original series, there aren’t many big twists that we can influence or complex puzzles that we can use our time powers to manipulate. Where Life is Strange put the onus on the player to save Kate or fail, literally testing how much you invested in the story, Before the Storm delivers a half-hearted twist that you could do nothing about.
It’s a totally different game, which is a pretty obvious statement considering that Before the Storm is a prequel created by a totally different developer. As it’s own story, it works well and does really showcase a great range of emotions in a developing and presumably pivotal relationship. But none of it matters. We know how it ends. With one episode to go, a series that prides itself on the ability to manipulate time is somehow running out.