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Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm: Brave New World

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Scorched earth

They call it burning bridges because fire brings about complete and unrelenting destruction. Fire doesn't discriminate. It ruthlessly eradicates everything in its path, bridges included. And, when it's all razed to the ground, there's fertile earth for life to start anew. It doesn't erase the memories of the damage, though.

Everything's on fire. Chloe's relationship with her mom. Chloe's enrollment status at school. Rachel's life at home. Arcadia Bay. The literal flames that backdrop so much of Brave New World are a blatant metaphor for the unavoidable emotional destruction in everyone's lives. Fire does what fire will do. We can only hope something positive will grow in its wake.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm: Brave New World (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])
Developer: Deck Nine
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: October 19, 2017
MSRP: $16.99 (includes all three episodes); $5.99 (just the second episode)

Life is Strange: Before the Storm's first episode began to add context to what we already knew. Chloe's obsession with finding Rachel Amber was a motivating force behind the original Life is Strange. We had seen the aftermath of their relationship and we had seen how much Rachel meant to Chloe. Awake, Before the Storm's first chapter, put everyone's problems at the forefront to great effect. We could see how these two young women could only find solace and escape in each other.

As the flames grow higher, their relationship burns brighter. Brave New World's opening scene has Chloe and Rachel in the principal's office for a very serious disciplinary conversation. Depending on the narrative path you take, either Chloe gets expelled by covering for Rachel, or Rachel gets suspended from her performance in The Tempest by covering for Chloe. There's great sacrifice no matter which way it's sliced.

But it's in the quieter times that the most is achieved. Showy displays of loyalty earn brownie points, but "Except for you, everything in my life really fucking sucks" heart-to-hearts earn trust. A makeshift therapy session in a hypothetical getaway car might be the most we've ever seen Chloe bare her soul. A nighttime walk down a suburban street is one of the sweetest moments in all of Life is Strange.

Before the Storm is so good at making us care about Chloe and Rachel that it has something of a detrimental effect on the rest of the stories. One of Brave New World's acts revolves around helping drug dealer Frank recover drug-dealing money from a Blackwell student, but that just doesn't feel as important. Like most of this series' plot threads, there's moral nuance and perspective manipulation and a million shades of gray. Our sympathetic sensibilities can ache for a homeless man's misfortune, sure, but we don't have that same bond with his character that we do with Rachel. It does, however, serve as a stark reminder that circumstance often makes good people do not-good things.

Most everything in Arcadia Bay is far from perfect. Brave New World further exposes the roots of what turns Nathan Prescott into such a monster. It sheds an early light on how malicious and petty Victoria Chase can be. It takes pure characters like Mikey, Steph, and Skip, and it victimizes them to facilitate evil, selfishness, and greed. 

It's heart-breaking to see this happen to good people, but it's also tough to get too invested in anything that's tangential to Chloe and Rachel's plight. We're barreling toward a conclusion and we already know it's more tragedy than comedy. Brave New World cements Before the Storm as Chloe and Rachel's story. They're the lead roles and everyone else is just set dressing.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Life is Strange: Before the Storm: Brave New World reviewed by Brett Makedonski

7.5

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The destructoid reviews guide

 
 
 

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Brett Makedonski
Brett MakedonskiManaging Editor   gamer profile

While you laughing, we're passing, passing away. So y'all go rest y'all souls, 'Cause I know I'ma meet you up at the crossroads. Y'all know y'all forever got love from them Bone Thugs baby... ... more + disclosures


 



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    Filed under... #Episodic Content #Life is Strange #PC #PS4 #Square Enix #Trailers #Xbox One

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