Life is Strange Before the Storm

Intelligent and enriching, this is a preview worth playing.

Key events

FeatureHow Yakuza and Life is Strange let us revisit their worlds

From neon streets to small-town bedrooms.

The places we visit in games are usually one-off affairs; we shoot or puzzle ourselves through a level and are done with it, always impatient to get to the next stage and exciting new sights. Many games recognise that virtual spaces are more than just levels whose walls funnel us through a series of obstacles. They allow us to spend time exploring or simply being in those spaces. Many RPGs, for example, let us return to locations we visited dozens of hours earlier, perhaps subtly changed by the intervening time or our actions. In the Animal Crossing series, the miniature world changes subtly in our absence, and NPCs will even admonish us for staying away for too long.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm review

The truth can be hard to look at, is it really something you're ready for? Maybe the lies we tell each other are less horrible than the truths we keep hidden? In addition to these being the main questions Life is Strange: Before the Storm asks of its players, they were also, in a way, the questions those players asked of publisher Square Enix when Before the Storm was first announced. Why spoil the mysteries of the original Life is Strange by laying them bare for all to see? Why not let fans leave the words unsaid and the people never met to their imaginations? Why entrust these beloved secrets to a new development studio? But, despite those legitimate concerns from the Life is Strange community, since the first episode launched in August this year it's been apparent that Before the Storm is not only a worthy follow-up to the original Life is Strange, in some ways it surpasses the groundwork that has already been laid.

Before the Storm paints a more intimate picture of Chloe Price, hellraiser best friend of the original's protagonist Max Caulfield, three years before the events of Life is Strange, in the time Max moved away to Seattle and the two lost contact. Playing as Chloe is a markedly different experience to playing as Max, and given how much you know about Chloe's future at this point, it's remarkable how much freedom it feels like Before the Storm gives you in shaping her outlook and attitude.

Crucially, of course, Chloe does not have Max's mysterious ability to rewind time. This could have been regarded as a step backwards in the complexity of the game, but Before the Storm wisely plays to Chloe's strengths of perception and social manipulation, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to carefully explore your surroundings and approach altercations as a puzzle to be solved. And there's a very marked permanence to the responses you give and the reactions you have to the world around you, raising the stakes in a very real way.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm's final episode has a release date

The third and final episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm will launch just before Christmas, on 20th December (thanks, IGN).

Titled 'Hell is Empty', the episode will round out the three-part storyline set a couple of years before the original Life is Strange game.

The series' bonus episode which reunites Max and Chloe (and both of their original voice actors) will then arrive early next year.

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Arcadia Baes: A Life is Strange spoilercast for Before the Storm

Johnny, Aoife, Donlan and Tom discuss episode one.

Hello dear listeners and welcome back to Arcadia Baes - Eurogamer's podcast for Life is Strange, a game we like to talk a lot about. We're back to chat about the new Before the Storm prequel - so expect full spoilers for episode one.

I think Arcadia Bay is one of the very few fictional places that I've actually missed. I missed its gauzy, autumnal sunsets, the diner, the lighthouse, even the junkyard, and most of all, the particular nostalgia it all evokes for teenage bedrooms. Those strange, musky sanctums where every dirty dish, stained beer mat and smudged scribble is a badge of honour for a late night of tattered, misspent youth. Junk will never be so important to you again.

Square Enix is fixing a Life is Strange: Before the Storm mistake whereby one of the game's PlayStation trophies was gettable only in the bonus episode that comes with the more expensive Deluxe Edition. This would make the coveted Platinum Trophy - awarded for collecting all other trophies (something some Trophy hunters take very seriously) - impossible to earn unless you paid more for the game.

As you might have read, I interviewed Deck Nine lead writer Zak Garriss at E3 a couple of weeks back, about their upcoming prequel to the beloved Life is Strange, about Ashley Burch not returning to voice Chloe, and about which possible directions the studio can take a story that fans kind of already know the ending to.

Life is Strange prequel's Max-based bonus episode is a Deluxe Edition exclusive

Life is Strange's three-part episodic prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, will feature a bonus episode where you play as the first season's protagonist Max Caulfield. The bad news: this chapter will only be available to those who buy the game's Deluxe Edition.

"We will still be giving you one final chance to play as Max through the self-contained bonus 'Farewell' episode, which takes place long before the events of Before the Storm," developer Deck Nine announced. "This stand-alone bonus episode, will release after episode 3, and is only available as part of the Deluxe Edition of Life is Strange: Before the Storm."

Indeed, even the Complete Season and Season Pass (episodes two and three) won't include this flashback epilogue.

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