Okay, so in comparison to the lower score I gave on episode 1 from this series, I have to say, episode 2 managed to impress me a lot more than the opening of the season, and while it was a weak starter, compared to the previous installment of the franchise, it has potential for a truly grand ending. I find it funny though. For me, Life is Strange was a series with a very strong beginning, alas the further we progressed into the story and the episodes went down, the weaker it was getting. And the culmination, in the face of the ending was really weak. However, in Life is Strange – Before the Storm, I see the opposite correlation – a very weak start, and the further we move into the plot, the stronger it gets. So I am actually expecting a very strong ending, and I truly hope for one, because it would be truly disappointing if it mimics the impact of its predecessor.
The story of episode 2 [SPOILER ALERT] continues to follow Chloe’s struggles as a rebellious teenager and Rachel, who is the “good girl gone bad”, if I can put it that way. Seems like her masks are cracking under the pressure of her “perfect” life and “perfect” family and she just wants to escape. The focus of this episode is Chloe’s suspension or expulsion, which by the way is kind of a disappointment and I will mention why, followed by her adventurous job from Frank, leading to The Tempest and finally the almighty kiss, everyone’s been going bonkers about. After Chloe gets suspended/expelled, which doesn’t really matter which it is, because the game won’t last that long to see future impact, she has a very stressful conversation with Joyce and David and it really doesn’t help when Joyce announces that they have decided David to move in. So naturally Chloe runs off angrily and goes to the only place she can relax – the junkyard. After we try to fidget with some truck, she falls asleep and has a really creepy dream about the recent fire that Rachel started and Chloe’s dad, but are woken up by none other than our new BFF Rachel. After a brief talk, we get to dress up and go talk to Frank, who tells us that he has a job for us. Apparently Drew [Mikey’s older brother] owes Damon [an asshole of a drug dealer] a lot of money and Frank sends Chloe to sneak into the boys’ dormitories and get the money. That quickly turned into a no win situation as depending on our choices, either Mikey or Drew will get hurt. After that sh*t fiesta, follows The Tempest play, which was by the way a really heartwarming moment between the two protagonists, I’d give it that. When the play is done, we get to take a private walk with Rachel and here is the option for their first kiss, followed by the disastrous ending in the Ambers’ house, concealed by the terms of a peaceful dinner.
What can I say, I truly like the direction where the story is going and it will leave you guessing what can eff up, when and how severe it will be. I’m really eager to see how Rachel will react to the news she got served at the ending of episode 2.
I really don’t want to talk about the story that much, because I wish to see how it will unfold, but I can say that the little details that we saw in episode 2 were contributing greatly for the experience. For example as I mentioned when the whole Tempest experience was really touching, or even at the end when you see Samantha applauding for Nathan, after you had given advice to her (and I told her to stick up for him, because he really needed it), or Frank’s puppy … omg can I say, that was the best moment in the episode!! I loved it, like this puppy needs more screen time. Especially when you can correlate it to season 1. Indeed, episode 2 was full of touching little moments, and I for one am glad to see such positive development from episode 1.
Indeed we can see some improvement in character development too, in minor characters more than in major ones. A great example of this is Nathan Prescott and I kind of can see now how he was lead to be into the little sh*t he is in the first game and this is what I like. I want to see how characters got to where they were in the original game and not only event wise, but personality too. I still feel like there could be more development to Chloe in particular, because she is the titular character of the series, alas I really don’t feel her much different than she was in the original game. I’m also starting to like Rachel more, when she isn’t being an unreasonable snot-nosed b*tch. Not to mention that we got to see another side of Drew, when there was the confrontation moment with Damon. Quite frankly I love when we see characters at both ends of the line. Not only Drew, but for example Frank, Nathan, Victoria, Chloe even. That is a good way to show that, if I can paraphrase it that way, every bully can be or has been bullied too.
I still have a problem with choices though. Where, the hell, are my consequences from episode 1? Just the mere fact that I didn’t feel anything impacting or don’t remember my major choices is a sign that they are either not memorable enough, or not impacting enough. Like, it’s good that principle Wells pointed out everything crappy I did, but somehow I have a feeling that even if I hadn’t done half of those things I’d still get suspended or expelled. I gave them a chance to kick in, when I was writing in episode 1 about this, but the kick in never really came in. I mean, don’t get me wrong … choices are great and I loved making every single one of them (more so in episode 2, than in 1), however, I fail to feel the gravity of consequences when it comes to after making the choice. Like, okay, what is the point of making the choice whether to let Rachel take all the blame or not … the first major choice. It doesn’t really matter whether Chloe gets suspended or expelled, also even if Rachel gets removed from the play because of that, you can still convince Victoria to back off. So in the end, it doesn’t matter. If I have to be honest, I think choices were better in the original game, when it comes to gravity, even minor ones, and that is a lot saying, because you can actually rewind them and pick something else, because of the time reversal mechanic. I suppose, I shouldn’t go too harsh at this, before I see the finale, so in terms of criticizing, I’d love to see all content, before I state my final word.
Final thing I gotta say is … I still don’t like the crappy choice of main mechanic for the game. Out of all presented options to backtalk, I picked only 2, because none of the other corresponded to the choices I wanted to make. Also it’s so easy to get the back talking right … like easier than just pressing one button to reverse time. I feel like I’m going to criticize this in episode 3 as well, but what can you do, I am just not satisfied with it and that’s final.
As a verdict, it definitely goes up the numerical scale and I am willing to give it an 8/10. There are definitely improvements and I bet if at least choices are touched upon a bit we can reach a 9, because I am willing to let go of the main mechanic grudge. Also can I say that I am really enjoying the choice of music in this series. I especially love the moments when we get to sit or lay somewhere and think to ourselves, pondering choices over, while a cringy, yet kind of appealing track plays and scenery changes. I also really enjoyed the epilogue of this episode on that same note.