Friday, March 27, 2020

[Finished] Life Is Strange: Before the Storm: Farewel (spoiler review)

Game:  Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Bonus Episode: Farewell
Release date: 2018
Platform: PC
Date started: May 2018
Date finished: May 2018

Spoiler Warning 

Farewell is a short bonus episode about two friends spending an afternoon together. There are no high stakes, no dangerous criminals or saving a town from a natural disaster. The tension comes from the fact that Max didn't tell her best friend Chloe that she's moving away to Seattle and it is their last day together. We can feel the anxiety building up within her as she keeps delaying the information in hope to find the right moment to have this conversation.

The original voice actors Hannah Telle and Ashly Burch return as Max and Chloe in a short episode with a simple premise. What could possibly go wrong?

The gameplay

When you set up linear confined spaces and strip the game of its mechanics such as time rewind or backtalk, you get a somewhat shallow experience. There isn't much to do. Most of the time you will be reading notebooks and viewing kids' drawings which isn't terribly interesting (but at least they feel authentic). I liked playing through choose your own adventure book that the girls made because it reminded me of similar stuff I used to do as a kid. You can talk to Chloe but the dialogue options are more limited than ever before and maybe it's for the best because the dialogue is quite painful to listen to. Hannah Telle and Ashly Burch gave a convincing enough performance as little girls but the writing will make you cringe even more than usual. If the kids in Stranger Things talked like that, nobody would watch the show.

I always thought young Max's model looked really weird. Even back in the season 1

A major part of the episode was built around the idea of child's play so I expected Deck Nine would find a way to translate that into gameplay, considering they made the brilliant D&D session and the school drama play segments in previous episodes. They did kinda try it with one puzzle involving a telescope, which is one of the more uniquely done puzzles in the LiS series. But most of the time instead of having fun and enjoying the story, you will catch yourself wondering why are you doing such busywork as shifting furniture in the attic.


Farewell is the shortest LiS episode by far. I feel like it would benefit greatly from another short chapter at the end where the girls would visit the lighthouse before heading home and finding Chloe's mother sobbing after hearing the tragic news. At the lighthouse they could've carved the message on the tree stomp that we saw in the original game. Not only does Farewell take place in 2008 but they also played pirates that day. It would've nicely tied everything together.

Carved tree stomp in Life is Strange 1

The ending does pack an emotional punch. It's something that we got used to in this series but didn't quite expect from an innocent bonus episode. It was clever how they made the girls play dress up and change clothes so we don't realize that Farewell is set on the day William died. In the first game we found out Max left Chloe shortly after the death of her father but I never imagined it happened right after his funeral. It may work very well for this episode but it seems a bit too (in)convenient. There's a theory among LiS fans that the message on the tape recorder was actually left by Max from the future when she jumped back in time through the photograph. Not sure if I would agree with it but it's nice there's some room left for speculation and I feel like it adds a bit more depth to the episode.

+ emotional ending
+ original voice actors return

- very short
- abysmal gameplay
- cringey dialogue



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