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Square Enix’s time-manipulating episodic adventure Life is Strange really resonated with audiences in 2015, so it was only a matter of time before we saw more of the series. A true sequel was announced last month, but before we get any more details about whether aspiring photographer Max Caulfield will return, it’s time for her BFF Chloe Price to step into the spotlight in her own spin-off. Only days after prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm was announced at Microsoft’s E3 briefing, we got a look at the three-episode story in a hands-off presentation.

Three years before the events of Life is Strange, a younger Chloe Price—sans blue hair but with the same rebellious attitude—is struggling. She’s still grieving the death of her father and the absence of her best friend. So to blow off steam, she heads to a show. This is no stadium concert; it’s the kind of shady-venued standing-room-only shindig that those of us who went to see local bands in high school remember all too well. Naturally, she runs into local scumbag Frank, who fans will recall from the first game; as it turns out, he’s Chloe’s dealer, and negotiating a weed purchase by committee was something we’ve definitely never done in a game before.

Since this was a hands-off group demo, the vocal majority in the demo room got to make the choices, and it was interesting to see how our instincts matched up (or didn’t). For instance, it was easy for the room to decide to steal a band t-shirt from a rude merchant, but most of us drew the line at also grabbing the wad of cash in his trunk—even though it would’ve come in really handy in paying Frank and getting hooked up.


An unfortunate run-in with a couple of older guys left us with more choices: should we make peace and apologize or tell them to piss off? Chloe being Chloe, we felt it was only right that she did the latter. This backfired later on when she was confronted and cornered by the guys (who apparently thought the appropriate reaction to a spilled beer was to threaten a teenager). Luckily, her classmate Rachel was there to save the day.

Yes, it’s that Rachel, as in Rachel Amber, whose disappearance was a major plot driver in Life is Strange. Before the Storm tells the story of Chloe and Rachel’s friendship—or maybe it’s something more, it’s hard to say. After the girls flipped off the shady dudes and headed to the mosh pit, we were shown a later scene in which their friendship blossoms before the pair have a heated argument at the junkyard. Before the Storm’s Arcadia Bay will have locations new and familiar, so it’ll still have that same northwestern small-town feel without treading ground that’s too well worn.


What’s interesting abut Before the Storm is that it doesn’t use the series’ distinctive time-manipulation element; it’s all about choices and consequences, and once you make a move, there’s no undoing it. This is absolutely the way to go from a story perspective, as there’s no way it would make sense for Chloe to have that ability, and what’s more, we didn’t miss it at all during the demo. Telltale’s been telling masterful episodic stories of choice and consequence for years, and there’s no reason why Square Enix and Dontnod can’t do the same thing.

Unlike the first season, Before the Storm is only three episodes long, with the first launching on August 31. It looks like a great way to dive back into that world and see more of Chloe Price, a character who absolutely deserves her own story.

How do you feel about a Life is Strange title without the time travel? Let us know!

Images: Square Enix

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