Saturday, February 17, 2018

[Finished] Life is Strange: Before the Storm episode 2: Brave New World

Game: Life is Strange: Before the Storm: Episode 2: Brave New World
Release date: 2017
Platform: PC (Steam)
Date started: October 2017
Date finished: October 2017

WARNING: medium spoilers

I was a little bit let down by the first episode but I find myself liking the second one more. I'm not sure whether it's got anything to do with the quality or I simply got used to changes and got more attached to a new story. I was worried the ending of the first episode implied that Rachel may have some sort of supernatural powers and I was glad to find it wasn't the case.

Episode 3 starts in the principle office where you're given a choice of covering for your friend with a risk of getting expelled from school. I already knew how it's going to play out from playing the first season but I still felt bad for Chloe and her mother and it reminded me when I was in a similar situation in high school. What's worse, David and Joyce decided it's time for David to move in and I could feel the weight behind the decision and what effect it had on Chloe. She refused to come home as long as he's there and took off to a familiar place- the junkyard. Looking back at season one, I can now see why this place was so special to her. But besides meaningful moments, the junkyard is also a place where busy work like searching for bottles and other forms of padding often occur. This time Chloe was looking for spare parts in order to fix a truck and it felt like stalling again. I didn't mind it too much because it was nice to see Chloe doing something productive for a change and they did give you a couple of options to personalize the truck. Later on she helps Frank with some business at school. In order to get inside the dorm she has to solve a mandatory puzzle that is both terribly designed and completely unnecessary. Deck Nine doesn't know how to design interesting problems to solve but they excel at creating scenarios such as the D&D tabletop session in which you could participate in the last episode or performing in a school play in this one. You have to read and memorize the lines and then play it out on stage. I noticed that some side characters like Nathan can either nail their part or choke on stage depending on your previous interactions with them, which is a nice little detail you won't really notice without replaying the game. The school play stands as the highlight of the episode for me. After the play the mood shifts to ecstatic as the girls discuss their future and plot an escape from Arcadia Bay. For a moment it felt so hopeful and I was rooting for them despite of knowing their ultimate fate.

Rachel's dad is Elon Musk?!

Having a dinner with Rachel's parents at their house was appropriately awkward. Unfortunately at that point the game starts dragging again and makes you do such busywork as setting up a table or asking Rachel's dad what he wants to drink. It's just an excuse for you to snoop around their living room. That's where I really started noticing how annoying Chloe's inner monologue can be. Does she really have to comment on every single task she performs, like picking up a plate? Her comments are rarely clever or insightful. While playing as Max it felt like an awkward part of her personality but I don't think it works for Chloe. The tension at the dinner table was real but that's also where bad writing and voice acting started to really show. The flow of the conversation didn't feel natural and it was obvious the actors recorded their lines separately. The dinner scene showcased the level of writing and acting that would never fly on a TV show but for some reason is acceptable in a video game. With that said, the ending did deliver very much needed mystery and left me longing for the next episode.

My choices (IMAGE SPOILERS!):


+ school play
+ ending
+ soundtrack
+ harder choices
+ Chloe / Rachel relationship

- busywork
- bad puzzle design