At 1 AM in the morning last night, I found myself still glued to my laptop that I had opened three hours ago, mind and heart racing: I was playing as Chloe Price, and I was about to make the most important decision of my virtual life. The indecision was tearing me up inside, and I asked myself why I was so attached to Chloe and her fate. It has been a long time since I was this invested in any game, but Episode 3 of Life is Strange: Before the Storm brings all the action and drama of the previous two installments to a thrilling climax. Chloe’s dear friend Rachel Amber finally learns the truth about her biological mother, and the two of them embark on a search to meet her in the flesh. But as they uncover her mom’s dark and drug-filled past, they put their own lives at risk, and Chloe must ultimately decide whether the whole truth is worth hurting Rachel and endangering her own personal safety.
One of the reasons why Life is Strange feels so real and pulls you into the story is the incredible level of detail that pervades throughout the game. As with any good role-playing game, the characters’ mannerisms and speech patterns are distinct and lifelike. Even the background settings are extremely realistic: whenever you explore a new room, there is a plethora of items to look at, investigate, and interact with. One of the most impressive objects I observed was Rachel Amber’s report card, which Chloe finds in Rachel’s room. It was a fully detailed report, complete with grades, the names of different classes and teachers, and detailed teachers’ comments. The game developers clearly invested a lot of time in creating the virtual world of Arcadia Bay, and it paid off—I felt totally immersed and engrossed in Chloe Price’s life and story.
Another way that this game uncannily imitates real life is how it never lets you make an easy or clear cut decision. There are pros and cons to each choice, but neither is necessarily the right one, and I like that level of complexity. I will not spoil anything, but in the end you basically decide whether to protect a friend with a white lie or tell the full, uncompromising truth. When I arrived at this point of the game, I was terribly conflicted between my own personal morals, the principles of the character I was playing, and the external influences of all the other characters. It was a tough choice to make, but after all the crazy events leading up to this, I appreciated the nail-biting conclusion. And because Before the Storm is a prequel story, the ending scene also ties in nicely with the beginning of the original Life is Strange installment, when Rachel Amber goes missing.
This game is one wild ride from start to finish, but along the way you become intensely attached to the characters and their crazy lives. There is romance, violence, and tragedy, and you play a crucial part in creating and dealing with all of that. In my opinion, Episode 3 of Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a thrilling, fitting conclusion to the Chloe Price’s origin story that leaves you breathless but exhilarated.