January 23rd, 2018 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu

Teenage Girl Simulator 2017

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is an episodic story-based adventure developed by Deck Nine and published by Square Enix. It is a prequel to Life Is Strange and it follows the story of a 16-year-old Chloe Price and her relationship with Rachel Amber, her newfound friend. They go onto an adventure regarding their own personal problems, which is the main focus of the game: two teenagers trying to solve teenager-ish problems which can change their lives forever. Being an episodic game, the episodes were released over time, and this review comes after Episode 3: Hell is Empty was released, which is the final episode in this game. A bonus episode is scheduled for deluxe edition owners, but is not relevant to the plot of the game. For first impressions on the game, you can check the original review here.

GRAPHICS:2/2

Graphics-wise, there are differences here and there comparing it to the original. The characters look similar, the environments are very familiar, most being brought back from the first game, with some new areas here and there. Technical-wise, the game was developed for current generation consoles, moving from Unreal Engine to Unity. The game feels a bit emptier in some parts, while livelier in others, with a change from a red-pink hue, to a more yellow aesthetic. The lightning seems a bit downgraded, and so do the shadows. But the faces and lip-sync, which was one of the bigger issues of the first game, have been improved. The game has Xbox One X Enhancement support, as well as some smaller patched-in improvements for the PS4 Pro.

STORY:1/2

The story is based around a younger Chloe Price, set 3 years before the events of the first game, in a world where she has lost her father recently, her best friend Max has left her, and she struggles with school. It’s a world where we see Chloe from another perspective, not just the one of a reckless, brash, angsty teenager, as she was in the first game. She finds a new friend in the one and only Rachel Amber, a considerably popular girl at the school. They go into an adventure known as “being a teenager”, having different types of problems, such as identity problems, family problems, existential crises, and so on. Other characters also return, where we see a different side of them. Not only that but you can get a little but more involved with your friends, including playing a tabletop RPG with your friends and running into characters who are aren’t quite finished in terms of what they become in the original game. Compared to the first game, the story shows an improvement in some areas. It feels like a more lively story, with more in-your-face moments, the drama being a little bit more “normal”, and a bit more dramatic at the same time. One minute, you’re taking part in a school play, the next moment, a soap opera-tier plot twist jumps right out at your coming from almost nowhere. The writing is also an improvement, having less forced “hip” words which were a bit annoying, but it has more awkward situations. It is good in some parts and absolutely horrible in others, one such situation is the ending, being as mistreated as the first game. Overall, the story quality depends from person to person, which is both a good, and a bad thing at the same time.

AUDIO: 2/2

Regarding the audio, let’s start with the obvious. Chloe’s voice actor has changed due to actors’ strike at that time (the strike ended and Ashly Burch will return for the bonus episode), being replaced with Rhianna DeVries. This change is subtle in some parts, while very obvious in other situations. Otherwise, some voice actors return, while others are brand new, doing an okay job at capturing the teenager vibe. The soundtrack is composed and written by Daughter, a British indie folk band, with the music blending in with the atmosphere for the game, being closely related to Chloe’s emotions. Though some tracks tend to repeat themselves, otherwise, it’s an improvement compared to the first game. Having a more focused soundtrack really holds onto the theme of the game more, and there are several moments in the game where you can just stop and enjoy a moment of zen as music plays while you sit around.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

What made the first LiS unique to other story adventure games (I’m looking at you Telltale) was the rewind mechanic, where you can return back and review your choices, or see what was the other choice. Well, Before the Storm removed this mechanic, which had no explanation at all in the first place, and implemented “Backtalk”, which makes a bit more sense, and seems more realistic. Plus it brings a bit more emphasis on the whole “your choices matter” part of the game. “Backtalk” is a mode where Chloe goes into a sort of an argument with someone, where the player has to choose his words wisely, and pay close attention to what the other person is saying. This is used as an extra option, which opens another way to solve a situation. Otherwise, it’s pretty much just like every other story-based episodic game out there. Another great addition is the collectibles, which are Graffiti in this case, where Chloe can draw different graffiti, depending on what the player wants from the options given. Overall, it’s still good and playable but without the time-traveling spin, the experience is a bit more mundane.

FUN: 1/2

“Fun” in this case, is a very subjective thing. I felt that the game was pleasing enough, it had its moments, both good and bad. Replayability-wise, the only reason to replay such games is to see the other choices. Once again, unlike the original, you can’t just view all your choices and pick what you want. You’ll actually have to play the game a second time to get more branching options that may or may not pay off in the end.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a mixed bag. Nobody asked for this, yet it was welcoming enough when it was announced. It had a decent 1st episode, that left me yearning for more, the 2nd episode was focused more on character development, especially the relationship between Chloe and Rachel, which was a high point from the all episodes. And Episode 3 was a low blow, having a lot of unnecessary, but intense drama, and a disappointing ending. Otherwise, this game was pretty enjoyable. If narrative experiences are your thing, this is a decent, bite-sized adventure. It also isn’t necessary to play the original in order to enjoy this prequel.

SCORE:7/10




Posted in Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 20th, 2016 by Stefan Adrian "AdminMas7er" Robu

Life is Strange is an episodic graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. It is focused on the adventures of photography student Max Caulfield, after discovering she has the ability to rewind time, going into the darker parts of Arcadia Bay alongside her close friend, Chloe, searching for a missing student.

GRAPHICS: 2/2
The graphics of Life is Strange are absolutely stunning, being developed in Unreal Engine 3, it hits some level of realism while combining a slightly cartoonish art style. While this art style doesn’t provide as much detail close-up, the bigger picture is where it shines. It impressed me how much Detail Dontnod have put into creating this considerably aesthetic town of Arcadia Bay, with the Blackwell Academy as the main point of attraction. Each episode brings us into a new area, keeping the game worlds fresh and rich in environments.

STORY: 1/2
While the story might not have been the best, even poor in some parts, it was okay, containing some major twists around the end. A major problem with it is that the plot starts slow on episode one (which is free), putting a lot of people off buying the other episodes. Character-wise, we have a very diverse cast, each one being unique in looks and personality. Some characters are a bit more insufferable than others, meanwhile there are some that you simply can’t hate them. Some characters I really love include the main protagonist Max, and one of her good friends, Kate. The dialogue feels a little bit forced and awkward, it sounds as if the developers tried (and failed) to replicate the “hip” talk of teens today (seriously, “hella”) and it’s one of the bad parts of the game.

AUDIO: 2/2
I literally have nothing bad to say about the audio, seriously, it has a 10/10 soundtrack, one of the better ones I’ve heard, it also fits the game atmosphere and the personality of Max. Genre-wise, it is composed of indie songs so it is also very soothing and calm. This mellow soundtrack has quite the effect on how emotional some scenes become.

GAMEPLAY:1/2
Being a story-based game, it isn’t focused on gameplay so don’t expect to find interesting mechanics. The most important of them is the rewind, allowing you to go back in time, allowing you to make a different choice. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, a good thing because you can also see the other choice available and its outcome, a bad thing because it kind of nullifies the whole “your choices matter” part of the game, since you can fix most of the bad decisions you did previously. At least, the minor ones are like so, since the major choices get locked in. This game draws a lot of inspiration from Telltale Games so it is point and click with a shiny mechanic, so to speak.

FUN: 2/2
Now I would not describe this game as “fun”. I would describe it as “emotional”, “a trip”, “cringefest” whatever you want to call it. It invokes a lot of emotions if you care about characters, especially when you make the wrong choices; those that lead to characters getting wounded, both physically and emotionally. For me, I haven’t felt anything from the “good” ending, but you might have a different experience.

While it may be “eh” in some areas, LiS hits hard in others, and it is an experience you should really try. It may not be perfect, it has a lot of good parts, just like a human. With rewind mechanics.

SCORE: 8/10




Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,