Friday, April 13, 2018

Damn, I do have feelings, after all

I need to take back some of my complaints about Life is Strange Before the Store. Teenage girls are still more interesting when they have time manipulation powers but the final chapter of Before the Storm is absolutely heartbreaking in a 'I'm not crying, you're crying' way. This cannot be explained without spoiling both the original and the prequel. So that is exactly what I am going to do.


Three quarters of Like of Strange is Chloe using Max and her powers to try and find Rachel, a girl who befriended Chloe when Max moved away and cut off all contact. They do find her, well her body anyway, buried in the junkyard that became Chloe and Rachel's hideout, murdered by the new photography teacher who takes a shot at Max later. It was devastating and built very well towards the final choice.

The game began with Chloe being shot in the school bathroom after a drug deal gone wrong. Max was there and reversed it before she understood what her power was. For five chapters shit gets stranger and stranger as Chloe's continued existence begins to tear apart the world. She was supposed to be dead and the universe is not pleased at the change. As a giant tornado is about to destroy Arcadia Bay Max is forced to choose: let Chloe live and sacrifice the town or go back and allow her to be shot in the first place.

A good choice in a game like this should divide the player base. I let her die, as did around 50% of everyone else.

Knowing the ends that Chloe and Rachel come to makes the happiest bits of Before the Storm difficult to take. It is a story about how two lost souls find each other at just the right time. Chloe is still dealing with the death of her father and Rachel discovers that her real birth mother has been looking for her for years and everything her family told her is a lie. Through a few fairly believable twist and turns Rachel is stabbed and Chloe find Sera, Rachel's mother.

Sera is a drug addict and while she wants to meet Rachel she understands that doing so would destroy Rachel's idyllic life. Sera tells Chloe to reveal nothing and leaves. Chloe returns to hospital for the final choice: tell Rachel that her father had paid to have her birth mother killed and that her birth mother left again or lie and tell her nothing.

A good choice should divide the player base evenly. I told Rachel everything, along with about 50% of everyone else.

What follows are scenes of a budding relationship, of two very young women getting sick tattoos and falling in love. And after the credits...

Give me a moment.

Ahem. In the first game Max finds the photographers 'dungeon' under an abandoned barn. In it he drugged young girls and took pictures of them at varying stages of consciousness. It had a very distinct, dark, plastic covered look. The scene is obviously in that room. Rachel's phone is on a table, ringing. 17 missed calls, all from Chloe.

Ok, fine, maybe I didn't need time manipulation powers to stay interested, after all. Before the Storm is a swift kick in the fellas but I am glad I finished it.

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