Life is Strange: Before the Storm Review

Screenshot from Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Chloe and Rachel

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Deck Nine
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: 1 Sep 2017
  • Time played: 9.5 hours

What is it

The original Life is Strange was released in 2015 and developed by French games development studio, DONTNOD Entertainment. The game was a huge success and consequently the game was followed up with a prequel (Life is Strange: Before the Storm) and a sequel (aptly named Life is Strange 2). Life is Strange 2 is being developed by the developer of the original game, DONTNOD, but the prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm was developed by Deck Nine, an American developer located in Colorado. Another change (that was deemed controversial by many) was the change of voice actor for the main character, Chloe Price: She was originally voiced by Ashly Burch but as she was participating in the 2016-17 video game voice actor strike she was replaced by Rhianna DeVries (who was also the motion capture actor for Chloe).

Despite the changes, the game rated well with a Metascore of 77 and a Metacritic User Score of 8.0. The game rated well on Steam too with 93% of the 19,606 reviews rating the game favourably giving it a "Very Positive" rating.

Gameplay in Life is Strange: Before the Storm is very similar to Life is Strange except instead of controlling Max you now control a slightly younger Chloe, and instead of being blessed (or cursed) with supernatural time travelling powers, you instead get what you want using Chloe's powers of persuasion through a "backtalk" mini-game. The game is set three years before the events of Life is Strange where Chloe is a rebellious sixteen-year old who by chance becomes friends (or perhaps more) with the beautiful, intelligent and popular Rachel Amber.

How I got it

I really enjoyed Life is Strange so it's no surprise that I was keen to play more games from the franchise. I received a Steam gift card for my birthday this year and used it to subsidise my purchase of Homefront: The Revolution, 8-Bit Armies and, of course, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, back in March.

Screenshot from Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Chloe relies on her powers of persuasion to get through obstacles

What I like:

An emotional rollercoaster ride

Wow, this game is definitely an emotional rollercoaster ride and obviously I found it so addictive as I finished the game in less than a fortnight (and considering how busy I am nowadays, that's saying something).

What I love about this game is that it's not only a story about the friendship (or romance) between Rachel and Chloe but it's also a story about their relationships with their fathers, which is why it probably moves me more than I would've thought (considering I'm a father of daughters). The game makes me want to be there for my daughters since it shows the tragic consequences of not being there for them (in body and spirit).

The game also has interesting sub-plots, like how Eliot Hampden, a guy who Chloe has known since kindergarten, seems like a nice guy and appears to be harmless, but he actually turns out to be quite possessive and aggressive later on in the game (seems to be a commonly recurring theme in Life is Strange: beware the nice ones). What makes it interesting is that (especially for male players) you get to experience what it's like being a girl having to deal with "creepy guys" and actually getting an insight into what that actually means.

Before the Storm also has its fair share of ethical dilemmas, like when a jock is getting bashed up by a drug dealer for not paying up, you have to decide on whether to give the money you found in the jock's room to the drug dealer (in order to potentially save his life, but endangering his younger brother) or hide in the room, not interfere, and just hope he doesn't get himself killed. What do you do?

Familiar yet different

The gameplay doesn't only feel very familiar but the setting and its characters (which isn't that much of a surprise considering it's set in the same town a few years before Life is Strange). Despite not having played the original in a while, I recognised several familiar characters. Also, where Max was all about taking photographs, Chloe is all about spreading her graffiti wherever she can get away with it.


The indie rock soundtrack for Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a good one and consists of a mix of licensed tracks and original music by English indie band, "Daughter". A particular favourite of mine is the main menu music called "The Right Way Around"; the music complements the game perfectly.


Since Chloe (at least as far as I know) doesn't have the superpowers that Max possesses, she instead gets this "backtalk" mini-game which actually reminds me of the insult swordfighting in the Monkey Island games: what you have to do is try to ensure the insults you dish out match keywords in whatever your opponent says as a rebuttal. It's pretty neat and it's so Chloe.

Decent length

Overall, the game was decent in terms of length – it took me over 9 hours to complete three episodes, which makes it about 3 hours per episode. Since it's only three episodes though, this also means the game is shorter than the original Life is Strange.

Steam Achievements and Trading Cards

There are 34 Steam Achievements to earn and are pretty easy to acquire provided you explore each of the episodes fully. There are 7 Steam Trading Cards to collect.

Dungeons & Dragons

Oh, just in case you're a D&D nerd, the game gives you the opportunity to play a session of "Dungeons & Dragons" which I thought was pretty awesome.

Screenshot from Life is Strange: Before the Storm
You're able to dress Chloe in different outfits but sometimes these aren't reflected in the cutscenes

What I dislike:

Graphical glitches

The game gives you the option to pick Chloe's outfit for the day and while this is a neat feature there are some cutscenes that show Chloe wearing the wrong outfit.

Audio glitches

I encountered audio glitches a couple of times, such as when one character called Frank kept on talking over himself (i.e. two audio files of him talking were being played at the same time).

Forgotten conversations

Sometimes some conversations you discuss with people seem to be forgotten later, and not just about trivial things, like admitting to the District Attorney that you regularly talk to drug dealers. It seems that not every conversation option was considered when they decided to script the responses.

Epilogue could be better

I felt the ending of the game glossed over what happened to two of the supporting characters although their fates are somewhat implied in the epilogue.

Score – 8/10 (Recommended)

If you liked Life is Strange, there's a good chance you'll like this prequel (especially if your favourite character is Chloe Price); just as it is with Life is Strange, Life is Strange: Before the Storm is an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with ethical dilemmas concerning love, friendship and family. The game does have a few minor technical glitches and I think the epilogue could've been done better, but overall, I found the nine hours it took me to play the three episodes enjoyable and highly recommended.

Is the game worth $22.49 AUD?: Yes. Under $25 for over 9 hours of another adventure set in the Life is Strange universe is a worthy investment. If you can get it on sale (like it is now for 70% off on Steam), it's a steal.

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[ LINK: Official Life is Strange: Before the Storm Website ]