Brave New World feels slower and longer than the episode that came before it, but that’s not a bad thing.
Episode one of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Awake, was far from action-packed in the traditional sense of the term, but it felt tense from start to finish. From a dramatic opening of Chloe sneaking into a warehouse party through her emotional rollercoaster of a day with Rachel Amber, it seemed like there was barely any downtime — at least in terms of our emotions. And while emotions still run high in Brave New World — we are still dealing with teenage girls, after all — the pacing is much gentler. It feels as though everyone — Chloe, Rachel, their parents, us as the players — get more time to sit back and absorb everything that’s happening around us.
The voice acting, storytelling and relationship building are just as strong in this episode as the first. Perhaps even slightly better in some regards; Chloe’s character continues to develop, and with a slower, more subdued pace, there’s plenty of quieter moments to see a lighter side of Chloe. A side that’s more akin to the Chloe we knew in the original Life is Strange.
Of course, there’s still more than a fair share of tumultuous moments of upset and angst. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but rather than dwelling on their respective troubles, Rachel and Chloe are now eager to fix them by starting fresh away from everything that Arcadia Bay represents from them both. At least, that’s their plan, anyway. As we’ve come to know now in Life is Strange, anything rarely goes to plan.
There’s a nice nod back to the original game as we see Chloe find the car that she drives in Life is Strange. A chunk of this episode takes part in that oh-so-familiar junkyard as she scavenges for parts to fix it up. The junkyard’s metaphorical importance is more blatant than ever as Chloe wades through old trash — and memories — in order to find — and dwell on — only what is important.
While perhaps the diner, or even Max’s dorm room, provided the iconic backdrop of the first game, the junkyard is the heart and soul of Before the Storm. It’s a nice touch; it felt significant in Life is Strange, but we didn’t know quite how significant. Now, we can begin to see how important the place was in cementing Chloe and Rachel’s friendship.
It’s almost disappointing, though, knowing that this short three-part series is almost done. Being already more than halfway through, I feel as though there’s a hell of a lot more I want to see explored. The last two episodes have posed a lot of new questions and briefly touched on so many characters and their sub-plots that trying to fit them all in one last episode seems like a task too tall. Frank, Chloe’s mild-tempered drug dealer, plays a big part in episode two of Before the Storm, and a number of Chloe’s classmates have developing side stories that are screaming to be explored further.
With Brave New World ending on a pretty unexpected cliffhanger however, the final episode will ultimately focus around Rachel and Chloe. It will undoubtedly leave us wanting more, but hey, I suppose that’s where replaying the first Life is Strange comes in. With a greater understanding of some of its main characters — and even a surprising newfound empathy for some of its less favourable background characters — the more I play of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, the more it makes me want to revisit the first game and play the whole thing again.
If you’ve played episode one of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, you’re almost certainly already invested into its story, and so picking up episode two is a no-brainer. You won’t be disappointed, though. It’s another fantastically told tale of teenage drama, family and friendship, and developer Deck Nine has once again proved itself worthy of delivering a package that more than lives up to Dontnod’s original vision.