Life Is Strange, with its unique brand of teen drama, was already a franchise with a very distinctive vibe – but developer Deck Nine has done a great job leaning into that with its prequel side-story Before the Storm. The game’s rip-roaring first episode saw rebellious protagonist Chloe Price playing a role-playing game on a picnic table with Blackwell’s biggest nerds, and its successor sees the teenage tearaway take to the stage as part of a rendition of The Tempest.
It’s these special set-pieces that set the series apart from virtually everything else in video games: this is a property where teenage pregnancies and illicit affairs rule the roost – not aliens and assault rifles. Brave New World picks up directly after the events of the first episode, with Arcadia Bay’s curious microclimate causing yet more issues for its inhabitants. A wildfire merely sets the backdrop for the escalating events occurring at Blackwell, with Ms Price up to her eyes as always.
The entire point of this mini-series is to explore Chloe’s fledgling relationship with the Bay’s biggest bright-spot Rachel Amber, and it can feel like the pair aren’t given quite enough screen time. The opening act of the latest episode seems to be killing time, and while it’s always nice being in the protagonist’s company, it feels like filler. A sub-plot involving seemingly inconsequential characters doesn’t exactly engage either.
But once Amber is brought back into the fold more prominently, the episode really picks up the pace. The theatre part is brilliant, intertwining Chloe and Rachel’s story into the play itself. There’s also a lovely scene where the pair walk home together that really builds on their relationship. The episode then pumps the brakes a bit as you’re ushered into an awkward family dynamic, before dropping a huge reveal just as the credits roll.
To be honest, we’re struggling to see exactly how the third and final episode in this mini-series will link to the main Life Is Strange game, and we are a little concerned how events in this particular story are making us question things that happened in the primary plot. But it’s impressive just how quickly Deck Nine has gotten a grasp of this franchise, and even if things don’t line up perfectly, we’re still very much enjoying this imaginative ride.
Brave New World doesn’t give Chloe and Rachel quite enough screen time to shine as brightly as Before the Storm’s first episode, but there are plenty of top-notch moments in this instalment, and the cliffhanger has us eagerly awaiting our next fix of Life Is Strange.