Life Is Strange 2 Before The Storm preview: No rewind mechanic, it’s all about the angst
Life Is Strange. It really is. And the game of the same name explored that concept in a fascinating life-meets-supernatural way when it was released in 2015.
Now there’s a prequel: Before The Storm. Set in Arcadia Bay once more, it rewinds the timeline by three years, following a 16-year-old Chloe Price. It’s two years since her Dad died, her best friend Max – the lead character of the original Life Is Strange – has recently exited her life, so she’s a mix of angsty teenage emotion. And the game really plugs into that.
The play style of Before The Storm is the same as the original game: navigate locations, interact with people and make choices that will affect not only the short term, but resonate as longer term consequences throughout each of the three chapters – the first is released August 31, 2017, with the other two to follow as downloadable chapters.
What’s particularly interesting about Before The Storm is that it’s done away with the “rewind” mechanic of the original game. This is was what gave Life Is Strange its unique quirk: Max was able to stop and rewind time, to make changes, fix mistakes; it was a core concept that gave the game a point of difference.
With rewind ditched in Before The Storm – and there’s no other similar mechanic according to Deck Nine’s co-director – the game depends on emotion, of pulling on the heart strings. Maybe that’ll work just fine, maybe the prequel will lack that point of difference that made the original so strong.
There are similar mechanics between the two titles, however: Chloe can write graffiti onto objects, in a similar way to how Max would take photos in the original game.
We were shown a 30 minute play session across three distinctive areas of the game’s world. It begins with Chloe breaking into a rock concert, where she can make choices about stealing a band tee, a wad of cash, of apologising for spilling someone’s drink or not.
The new location introduces familiar characters: from Frank (your weed dealer) to Rachel Amber, the missing girl from the original Life Is Strange. But this story, while it’s about Rachel to some degree, isn’t about her disappearance – Deck Nine says it’s not about going in a straight line to a known conclusion, to give fans something fresh and new.
If you’re into point-and-click puzzle adventures than Life Is Strange: Before The Storm looks like it’ll go down a storm. It’s got all the teenage angst and attitude of the original. The only question mark over it is whether the lack of a rewind power will shift the game from the supernatural masterpiece of the original into something more linear and familiar.
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm’s first chapter is released on PS4, Xbox One and PC on August 31, 2017.