On August 31st, gamers around the world will be able to go back to Arcata. And though we won’t have any special powers to turn back time over and over, we are going back three years prior to the original five episode series. In Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Chloe is sixteen years old, just two years after her father’s devastating car accident. Instead of seeing the blue-haired rebellious punk we all know and love, we get to play as her brunette just-getting-into-her-punk-phase Chloe. At this year’s E3, Square Enix showed off a thirty minute demo, showing a good chunk out of the beginning of the episode, and a bit later on.
The demo opens up with Chloe going to a concert in an abandoned warehouse for a punk band she’s a big fan of. Immediately you’re given the options of making some tough decisions – “all decisions you make in this game will carry on throughout the entire story, carrying both positive and negative consequences” – such as whether or not you think Chloe really wants an overpriced band shirt and is willing to take serious risks to steal it, or starting a fight with a sleezy guy at the bar. The presenters allowed the audience to weigh in on what decisions should be made.
Our group decided yes, we wanted to steal the shirt, so we snuck away and released the parking break in the car the vendor was selling his merchandise out of, causing it to fall off a ramp. This gave Chloe the opportunity to steal a shirt. She also notices a tin lunchbox with a grip of cash in it – “that’s got to be at least $200!” – which we chose to leave in the car.
Walking over to Frank, whose character is just as we remember, he asks why you’re here and how you found out about it. He was clearly not pleased with the fact some “damn kids” posted information about the show on the internet. We also decided to ask him for some weed, which we were not able to obtain (although there was an option to ask him to spot you some) because Chloe owed him $175 for all the other times he spotted her. The consequences seemed to show fast; if we had stolen the $200 in cash from the t-shirt vendor’s trunk, Chloe would have been able to pay off her debts and have some cash left over for more.
I don’t want to spoil what happens in the rest of the episode, so I’ll fast forward to the end of the first large chunk of the demo we watched. Chloe finds herself between a rock and a hard place, and Rachel Amber comes to the rescue. Judging by how shocked Chloe was to see her come to her aide, it seems like this may be one of the first times Rachel has ever interacted with her.
Going to the second portion of the presentation, we get to see Rachel Amber for her true colors: someone who loves theater (acting) and playing games (not always the fun kind, either). Rachel seems to be very mysterious about her intentions, and the possibility of a relationship is implied. What would really make this game stick out is if it ends shortly before the original series, and the decisions carry over. That of course is an “in a perfect world” situation and would most likely require a lot of work on the development side.
Hey y'all, to the fans asking – I wasn't able to reprise my role as Chloe in Life is Strange: Before the Storm due to the SAG-AFTRA strike
— Ashly Burch (@ashly_burch) June 12, 2017
Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, Ashly Busch will not be coming back to her role of Chloe Price. There are some stipulations to it – if the voice actor/actress signed a contract prior to the strike beginning, they are allowed to complete their role and then go on strike. Standalone contracts are also negotiable, however due to negotiating with the SAG-AFTRA, the following companies are not allowed to do standalone deals, and must hire non-union workers: Activision, Blindlight, Disney, Electronic Arts, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Take 2, Voiceworks Products and Warner Brothers Games.
Felicia Day weighed in saying she was not going to purchase Before the Storm because of this, and Steve Blum [on Twitter] weighed in saying “there is a promulgated agreement available today. All they need to do is sign it. This doesn’t have to happen.”
Life is Strange: Before the Storm still looks promising, despite the strike. I fully believe this will be a great title for people who are big fans of the series (I got emotional at one point) and those who want to get into it and never have, giving them a different perspective on how everything plays out. “This is for the fans. We want to give people what they want – good story and relatable characters.” In the prequel, Chloe’s ability to graffiti certain items in the various environments replaces Max’s photographs. We’ll see familiar places and all new places. Even though there are less episodes this time around, the developers assured us each episode would last anywhere between six and nine hours.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm will be available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC on August 31st.