REVIEW – These titles are getting longer… next time, I may need two lines in Word! Oh well – we didn’t need even two months to see Deck Nine release the middle part of the trilogy. The charm that the original Life is Strange had as one of the key points behind its success is here, too.
We’re just one day after the previous episode, and it shows how Deck Nine puts together the plot into a small timeframe, which might sound a little awkward for a prequel (which is what Before the Storm is supposed to be). The original Life is Strange followed the same formula, though!
Far from Blackwell
We start in Wells’ office, where you will get the chance to backtalk or just go with the flow. Whatever your approach is, the school will not be an important part of your life for a while. Time to clean out the locker, then be part of another investigation, followed by the junkyard, where you’ll get through the collecting part of the gameplay in roughly five minutes. Time to smoke, rest, then be part of another supernatureal dream sequence, which is now longer than before – in return, we only got one this episode.
It’s quite bizarre. I think that the thid, final episode will build these events into one understandable mixture, disregarding the bonus Max episode for those who bought the Deluxe edition of the game. You stylize your hideout, you meet someone, you go on a mission which means a bit of puzzle, then it’s time for another, this time forced backtalking, only to see a person mentioned in the first episode to show up… and they don’t look like an easy figure.
Events take a sharp turn, as you become part of a play, where you initially just do the obligatory, then you evolve it into something magical, hinting at the future along the lines as well. The way this episode is written is simply outstanding! On your way home, you see another scene, you get invited to a dinner, things get sour, the end. Oh my God, I’m still not at the bottom of the page! This is all the story for the episode, though. I only used backtalking just once because… I felt like I wanted to make the episode peaceful (as I used it four times in Awake, the first chapter), although I have to admit that one time I did a thing that made me feel guilty… and it could be striking back in the third episode.
The soundtrack is outstanding yet again. However, the voice acting isn’t as great as the music – perhaps it’s the strike that ended recently? For example, I just couldn’t get used to Samuel’s voice whatsoever. He became a way more… interesting character than in Life is Strange. The result is mixed. What about the graphics? It’s the usual quality, although I noticed that the animations have jumped around way too often, and anyone could notice these before the camera angles swapped. If I have to talk about negatives, then I have to say that the transition between the first episode’s recap and the proper launch of the second one was lacking.
This sudden fadeout, followed by immediately being in Wells’ office, is not cool. It felt amateur, if you ask me. There’s another stupid thing I saw in this episode. In the final cutscene (the one with the song and characters interacting with each other), there seems to be a ridiculous mistake – at each scene change (I mean location here…), there’s a line in the subtitles showing up each time, having no reason to be there at all. What the hell is this, Deck Nine? It’s a somewhat annoying bug! I have no idea how it ended up in the shipped episode.
In the first episode’s dream scene, there is a harsh hidden secret, and I didn’t check it in the second one (I’ll write about it in the third one in case I do not forget) – these little, nice details were present in the original Life is Strange as well. I enjoyed these two and a half hours, and I can’t wait for the next one. If we’re lucky, Deck Nine might provide us the last episode before Christmas. I hope that it happens – last year, Telltale surprised us with a double helping of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. It could be good.
+ Great soundtrack
+ The story is written perfectly!
+ 2.5 hours – Telltale should take notes
– Animation mistakes, Samuel’s voice
– The subtitle bug at the end is amateur
– There was a distinct lack of a segueway from the recap to the episode
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Deck Nine Games
Genre: episodic, adventure
Release date: October 19, 2017