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Posted July 1, 2017 by Daniel Kizana in Feature
 
 

E3 2017: Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Preview


It was back in 2010, with the release of David Cage’s Heavy Rain, that I was first exposed to ‘interactive cinema‘; an emergent genre, focusing on rich plots and cinematic storytelling in lieu of complex gameplay mechanics. It’s a niche market, but games in this style are usually among the most meticulously crafted and well written experiences in gaming, with breakout successes, such as Square Enix’s Life Is Strange, releasing to rave critical reception and generating an enormous cult following.

Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, Life Is Strange is a time-travelling murder mystery that sees best friends Chloe and Max fight to undo past tragedies, only to face the dire consequences of altering the past. Given that LIS boasts what is arguably the best Steam review section I’ve ever seen, it’s no surprise that Square Enix have announced not one, but two additions to the series. One will come in the form of a direct sequel, Life is Strange 2, while the other will serve as a prequel to the original LIS. I visited Square’s booth at E3 to check out the prequel entry, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm.

While Dontnod begin work on LIS2, development of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm has been entrusted to Deck Nine Games. As such, the preview presentation was given by Deck Nine VP Jeff Litchford and Co-Game Director Webb Pickersgill, who made no secret that they’re passionate fans of the original and intend to retain its influence.

Before The Storm takes place 3 years before LIS, and will feature many familiar faces and locations from the original game, while also showcasing some as yet unexplored parts of town and, of course, the new characters that come as part of that. The most significant change will be the absence of a time travel mechanic, as Deck Nine have opted for a less surreal plot, focusing more on interpersonal drama and complex decisions that play into the series running themes of choice and consequence.

Before The Storm will tell the back-story of one of the series’ leads, Chloe Price, starting with the formation of a friendship with Rachel Amber that would lead up to Rachel’s eventual disappearance during the events of LIS. The preview began with Chloe and Rachel’s first meeting, at an underground rock concert in their home town of Arcadia. There was no shortage of drama on offer, from arguing with a price-gouging merch vendor, to spraying the walls with graffiti, even dodging a physical altercation. The whole scene played out around decisions that preview attendees helped make, and we were assured that even most innocuous choices would have ramifications later in the night, and later in the story.

The next scenes offered a bit more on the dialogue side, as Rachel and Chloe argued about the nature of their friendship and their perceptions of each other. It’s clear that Before The Storm will tread the same complex dramatic ground as its predecessor, and the quality of the writing seems on par as well. It’s a notable accomplishment that Deck Nine have kept such consistency with the original. It won’t be lost on returning fans that Chloe and Rachel’s argument took place in the Junkyard; obvious foreshadowing of future tragedies, and proof that Deck Nine are looking to provide an experience that is deeply connected with the game fans already love.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm will be split into three episodes, with the first arriving on August 31st. The Deluxe Edition will ship with an additional chapter, featuring series favourite Max as a playable character, that should add a little to the game’s 9 hour play-time. Also, since it has been revealed that Life Is Strange 2 will feature a completely new setting and new characters, Before The Storm is likely to be your last chance for a visit to Arcadia. Even more reason to take a look.

Check out the gameplay preview below:

 


Daniel Kizana

 


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