Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a three-part episodic standalone game that serves as a prequel to Life is Strange and is set three years prior to the main game's events. It features Chloe Price as the playable protagonist and Rachel Amber as a main character who is crucial to the story. This prequel game is developed by Deck Nine Games and published by Square Enix.
The game was officially announced with a trailer on the E3 2017 on June 12, 2017. Episode 1, "Awake", was released on August 31, 2017. Episode 2, "Brave New World", was released on October 19, 2017. Episode 3, "Hell Is Empty" was released on December 20, 2017. The game released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC (Steam). Feral Interactive released macOS and Linux versions on September 13, 2018. iOS and Android versions are announced for September 19, 2018.
The official description says: "The player controls sixteen-year old Chloe Price who forms an unlikely friendship with Rachel Amber, a beautiful and popular girl destined for success. When Rachel learns a secret about her family that threatens to destroy her world, it is her newfound friendship with Chloe that gives her the strength to carry on. No longer alone, the girls must confront each other's demons and find a way to overcome them together."
The prequel is set in May 2010, three years prior to the events of the main game, shortly after Chloe's mother Joyce Price became involved with soon-to-be stepfather David Madsen. The game features returning characters William Price, Frank Bowers, Nathan Prescott, and Victoria Chase as well as returning background characters such as the Truck Driver. The story focuses on Chloe's life as a sophomore at Blackwell Academy as well as the relationship between Chloe and Rachel and the events that made them bond.
Max Caulfield does not make an appearance in Before the Storm, as it is set during the period where Max is absent from Chloe's life; however, Chloe feels her absence and references her throughout the game. There is no rewind power, so choices are even more crucial in this game as Chloe can only rely on her sharp tongue. As in Dontnod's first offering in the Life is Strange franchise, every action has a consequence that affects the short, mid and long term. "Strange elements" make various appearances without explicitly being portrayed as supernatural powers or occurrences.
Community Manager for Life is Strange, Toby Palm, had announced that it will be "an entirely new story. We want to take the player on a new journey and not tell a story that players already know the ending of." The game's story will be a mystery story with an investigative angle like the first game.
Deck Nine Games stated that the story that most resonated with them was one that comfortably spanned across three episodes and takes around 6-9 hours to complete. They listened to the Life is Strange community's wishes to see more of Max Caulfield, so a self-contained bonus game called "Farewell" was released, which takes place long before the events of the prequel. This bonus episode was released after Episode 3; however, it was only included with the "Deluxe Edition" of the prequel. Deck Nine Games emphasized that the bonus game would have no bearing on the prequel story and that it is only intended as a bonus for those who wish to play as Max once again.
On August 10, 2017, a live Reddit AMA was held with members of Deck Nine Games. During this live question and answer session, fans were informed that, "even the most dedicated fan won’t know how Before the Storm is going to end. Be prepared to anguish over choices just like in LIS1! We decided very early on to ensure we’re writing a story that no one knows the ending of. In fact, the vast majority of events throughout the series are all brand new."  Fans were also told during the AMA that "returning to Arcadia Bay was a direct response to fans telling Square [Enix] that they wanted to go back to Arcadia Bay."
The game uses the Unity engine that supplements a self-developed toolset called StoryForge. This differs from Season 1, which used Unreal Engine 3, and Season 2, which is built on Unreal Engine 4.
In May 2020, an article published by Shacknews talked about the storytelling in the franchise up to this point. In this article, it is learned that, while DONTNOD were busy working on Life is Strange 2, needing adequate time to build a new story and characters, Square Enix wanted to bring in another studio to develop a side entry in the franchise. To resolve concerns about giving a new studio some responsibility for a now-franchise that fans cared so passionately about, Square Enix gave Deck Nine Games a test to "conceptualize and execute a narrative-driven scene in line with Life is Strange's aesthetics and themes." The scene Deck Nine chose as a "testbed" was the junkyard scene where Chloe smashes things in anger before arriving in front of the car her father was driving when he was killed.
Official Key Features:
- Choice and consequence driven narrative adventure.
- Multiple endings depending on the choices you make.
- "Backtalk" - A risk/reward conversation mode that allows Chloe to use her barbed tongue to provoke or get her way.
- Make your mark on the world with witty tags and drawings.
- Choose Chloe's outfit and see how people react to your look.
- Distinct Licensed indie soundtrack.
- Optional in-game purchases.
- Letters to Max - Chloe's equivalent to Max's Diary from the first game.
Episode One - "Awake"
On May 6th, Chloe Price sneaks off to the old mill and trash-talks her way into a Firewalk concert. After a confrontation with two men, she is rescued by schoolmate Rachel Amber. After reuniting at school the next morning, Chloe and Rachel decide to stow away on a cargo train that takes them to lookout point. After looking through the viewfinder, Rachel is suddenly determined to get drunk by drinking previously stolen wine. After moving on to the scrapyard, Chloe confront Rachel about the mood change. Rachel leaves and Chloe discovers the family car her father was killed in. Rachel later discloses that she had witnessed her father cheating on her mother via the viewfinder. In a rage, Rachel burns a family photo in a trash bin, then angrily kicks it over, lighting a nearby tree on fire.
Episode Two - "Brave New World"
Beginning on the morning of May 8th, Chloe and Rachel attend a meeting with Principal Wells and their parents where Chloe faces suspension/expulsion from Blackwell Academy. After the meeting, David announces his intention to move in with Joyce; upset, Chloe angrily leaves and walks to the junkyard. There she starts fixing an old truck until Rachel appears for a short while, before leaving to get ready for her performance in The Tempest later that night. Shortly after Rachel leaves, Frank arrives and instructs Chloe to help him collect a debt from Drew North by breaking into his room at Blackwell Academy. Whilst in Drew's room Chloe is disturbed by Mikey and then Drew, who is then confronted by Frank's boss Damon Merrick. Chloe then attends backstage at the school production where she witnesses Victoria attempting to sabotage Rachel's performance, or, if Rachel was removed from the play by Wells, Victoria will be getting ready for her performance. Shortly after, due to a missing cast member, Chloe is pushed into performing in the play opposite Rachel. After the play, Chloe and Rachel walk back to the Amber residence, intent on leaving Arcadia Bay that night; however, when Rachel's dad spots her in the house, they end up staying for dinner, and a revelation around who that mysterious woman Chloe and Rachel saw with Mr. Amber comes out.
Episode Three - "Hell Is Empty"
The woman, Sera is revealed to be Rachel's mother and Rachel is determined to meet her despite Mr. Amber's attempts to keep the woman out of her life. Rachel and Chloe are supposed to meet Frank to learn more about Sera. At the junkyard an unexpected Damon Merrick also shows up. The conversation gets heated and Rachel gets stabbed and hospitalized. Chloe finds out Rachel's father hired Damon to keep Sera away but Chloe learns that Sera's life is in danger and rushes to save her at the mill. Frank arrives to save both Chloe and Sera from Damon. Sera urges Chloe to never let Rachel know the truth of her father's action and their meeting. Leaving Chloe with a choice to lie to Rachel or to tell her the truth.
Bonus Episode - "Farewell"
A young Max Caulfield is at the home of her best friend Chloe Price. Chloe has been told by her mother to get rid of the junk in her room, so Chloe decides she may as well clean it at the same time. Max knows that her family is moving to Seattle in three days, and she hasn't told Chloe about this yet. Max is worried about how to tell her best friend and is looking for the right opportunity to raise the subject. She has an opportunity to tell Chloe in her room. Chloe finds an old cassette tape with them playing pirates and mentions an amulet and a treasure map, leading Chloe the idea of going after the map today. Both search for objects mentioned on the treasure map and Max finds the mentioned amulet in the house's attic. With the objects, they discover the location of the treasure and dig up a time capsule of memories. Max has another opportunity to tell Chloe about her moving to Seattle after they have finished examining the time capsule. Shortly afterwards, Chloe's mom, Joyce Price, arrives home accompanied by Officer Anderson Berry, grieving and based on knowledge of the original game by DONTNOD, informs Chloe the terrible news that her father has been killed in a car accident. A burial service is held and shortly afterwards Max and her family drive to Seattle, indicated by the car being filled with belongings. Chloe comes home and finds a note with "I'm sorry" attached to her cassette player in her room. She plays the tape inside to hear a message from Max, which varies depending on whether Max chose to tell Chloe about moving to Seattle or not.
Publisher Square Enix chose Deck Nine to develop the prequel to Life is Strange after the developer's proprietary StoryForge tools had made an impression. Development started in 2016, at least in October that year, with the Unity game engine.
Leaks and Announcement
Leaks of screenshots and concept art for a new game featuring Chloe Price and Rachel Amber, which came from Deck Nine Games' newly set up website, were reported on June 1, 2017. Just a day before that, on May 31, the same studio revealed that they had partnered with a major AAA publisher (which we now know to be Square Enix) and was "deep in development on their first title, a brand new addition to a critically acclaimed franchise" which would be revealed later this year at E3.
Deck Nine Games
- Main article: Deck Nine Games
On May 31, 2017, it was announced that long time PlayStation developer Idol Minds had rebranded and would be known from this date as Deck Nine Games. On this same date, it was revealed that the studio has partnered with a major AAA publisher (which we now know to be Square Enix). The studio rebranded due to a shift to story-driven-narrative games following their development of a new toolset called StoryForge, which focuses on "meaningful storytelling and rich gameplay" and would function similar to the engine used by Telltale Games. StoryForge will allow the integration of "motion capture, narrative choices, music and more". The development team consists of motion capture professionals and cinematic artists who will be working 'in house'.
A core member of the writing team explained that it was important for Deck Nine to have certain characters such as Victoria, Nathan, Warren, Alyssa or Stella in the game, because they knew it would mean a lot to the players. The writers also saw Before the Storm being the last opportunity to meet these characters and were wanting to show how complex characters like Nathan and Victoria behaved like when they were younger.
For the prequel, the diary mechanic from Life is Strange was replaced with a letter mechanic. The player is be able to read unsent letters from Chloe to Max in which she puts down her thoughts on what's going on, replacing Max's diary as an assistant narrative device. It's meant to grant the player a "unique insight" into Chloe's life and how she views people and events. It's explained that she doesn't send those letters because she has given up hope that Max will ever return to Arcadia Bay or play any part in her life. Max's photography mechanic which allowed the player to take optional photos throughout the game to unlock achievements was replaced with a optional graffiti mechanic that allows the player to "leave their mark on the world", which is meant to be Chloe's special thing as photography was Max's. The player is often given the choice of what to write.
In an interview with Before the Storm Lead Writer Zak Garriss, he explained that, "it’s the prerogative now of the franchise to tackle social issues, to talk about issues that are difficult to talk about, and to take a game and utilize what games have that other media don’t have to explore and open a dialogue around things like bullying or depression or domestic assault or sexual assault: what it’s like to be a teenager." 
It was stated that Deck Nine Games did not get any consultation or any advice from Dontnod Entertainment. From the beginning until the launch, Deck Nine were the only ones behind the game with some help from Square Enix, including some of the developers that worked on the original game. However, they were given access to Dontnod's game assets and original files that contain character arcs and backgrounds. They communicated with Dontnod and flew to Paris to let them test out the gameplay. Game Director Michel Koch complimented their work and told the new team that the fans will love their work. Dontnod received special thanks in the credits of the first episode of Before the Storm, which said, "A very special thank you to all of the amazing developers at DONTNOD. We've been honored to continue the amazing work you started in Arcadia Bay."
Ashly Burch and other members of the original game's voice acting cast (such as Nik Shriner, Nathan's voice actor) were unable to lend their voice to their characters due to participation in the SAG-AFTRA strike. The original voice actress for Chloe, Ashly Burch, still wanted to be involved due to her love for the character, so she returned to the franchise as a writing consultant to guide the writers toward how she viewed a younger version of Chloe.
Rhianna DeVries, who initially provided the game's motion capture for Chloe Price, also voices the character due to the strike.
The VA strike reportedly did not have any influence on the game's story.
- "We had a backtalk scene where Chloe was backtalking herself in the mirror to really explore the vulnerability she was feeling and the self-doubt, and how we can be our own worst critics and our cruelest opponents. Just for production reasons, we had to cut it, but it was one of our favorite pieces of content. It would have been really beautiful and interesting."
- — Zak Garriss (Lead Writer)
The Complete Season includes Episodes 1, 2 and 3.
The Season Pass includes Episodes 2 and 3 and is only purchasable upon having previously purchased Episode 1 as a standalone episode.
The Deluxe Edition includes the following:
- Episodes 1, 2 and 3.
- Bonus Episode "Farewell" featuring a young Max (to be released after Episode 3).
- Mixtape Mode: a main menu option which allows you to create a playlist of the in-game licensed music and set it to play against an in-game moment of calm.
- The Outfit Pack: a set of three additional outfit options that Chloe can change into at certain points in the story: Punk Doe, Hawt Dawg Man, and Illuminati.
- For pre-order-ers: "Classic Chloe" outfit and (for PS4 users) a dynamic theme. (As of the release of the boxed editions, the outfit is also available individually.)
The Limited Edition includes a physical soundtrack CD, an artbook and all content normal content Deluxe Edition. Preorder-ers can also get Chloe and Rachel figurines. A Vinyl Edition with a soundtrack vinyl is also available.
The boxed editions launched on March 6, 2018, alongside the release of "Farewell". The Vinyl Edition is a Square Enix Store exclusive. The North American boxed Standard Edition seems to be equivalent to the digital Deluxe Edition.
Square Enix Store North America:
|PC||(Digital version listed)||(Digital version listed)||No||Yes (Digital gamecode)|
|PS4||Yes||No||No||Yes (Soft bundle*)|
|Xbox One||Yes||No||No||Yes (Soft bundle*)|
Retail North America:
Square Enix Store Europe:
Note "softbundle": "Please note this collector's edition is a soft bundle and your order will contain a Limited Edition version of the game alongside a Boxed Vinyl Set."
Before the Storm was previously criticized by some for being a Windows-only game and not supporting Mac or Linux at release. Life is Strange was ported to Mac and Linux by Feral Interactive in 2016, a year after its release. A Mac and Linux version of Before the Storm was announced on March 14, 2018.
A week after the first episode was released, some Steam reviewers disliked "the existence of Denuvo DRM and stuttering on even high-end machines" . . . "the lack of impact in choices, inconsistent animations, poorly implemented controller support, and crashes to desktop."
Awards and Nominations
Following E3 2017, Before the Storm received one of GamesRadar's Best of E3 awards and was nominated for Hardcore Gamer's Adventure Game award. It was also nominated in the Games for Impact category at The Game Awards 2017.
References to Life is Strange
- Main article: Easter Eggs (Prequel)
- Pirate's hat and eye patch (in Chloe's room)
- Picture of Max and Chloe
- William's camera (in the garage)
- Chloe's wallet and ashtray (in Chloe's room)
- Chloe's old cell phone
- Chloe's American flag (at her wall instead of at her window)
- Mixtape, Max made for Chloe
- William's car
- Chloe's truck (at the junkyard)
- Nathan's gun (gun that Nathan possibly carried around)
- Everyone lies tag (in Chloe's room)
- Similarly to Life is Strange, each episode of Before the Storm will take place over the span of one day. The three episodes will cover three consecutive days like in the first game.
- Deck Nine Games have stated that a Nintendo Switch release for Before the Storm is not out of question.
- In an interview, Lead Writer Zak Garriss stated that players should expect about 8 to 10 weeks between the three episodes, with the hope being to land on the shorter side of that range.
- Square Enix had a presence at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, from August 22 to 26, 2017, the week before the launch of Episode 1, "Awake".
- A character called Caleb (voiced by Caleb Couch) was listed on IMDB. This credit was later removed from the page.
- The dialogue system in Before the Storm has undergone a restructuring. Some variants of answers will become available to the player only after the heroine interacts with a certain object or displays information in a dialogue with other people.
- Before the Storm included Denuvo on Steam, an anti-tamper software. It was officially stated that there should not be any performance related issues as a result of Denuvo. Denuvo was subsequently removed on October 19, 2017.
- On September 25, 2017 the SAG-AFTRA strike reached a "tentative" end after 11 months, leaving new possibilities for the voice actors of the "Farewell" episode, the production of which was stated to start after completing the three main episodes.
- On November 30 of that year, it was announced that Hannah Telle and Ashly Burch will reprise their respective roles in the bonus episode while Rhianna DeVries will continue to provide motion capture for young Chloe. In addition, Square Enix confirmed a 2018 release date for "Farewell".
- On December 13, 2017, publications and influencers published preview gameplay of Episode 3.
|OS: Windows 7 or above (64-bit)||OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)|
|Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 (3.1GHz) or AMD Phenom X4 945 (3.0GHz)||Processor: Intel Core i3-6100 (3.7GHz) or AMD Athlon X4 845 (3.5GHz)|
|Memory: 3GB RAM||Memory: 6 GB RAM|
|Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 250 or NVIDIA Geforce GTX 650||Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 460 or NVIDIA Geforce 1050|
|DirectX: Version 11||DirectX: Version 11|
|Hard Drive: 14 GB available space||Hard Drive: 14 GB available space|
Note: 32-bit operating systems will not be supported.
- This game shows several references to William Shakespeare's The Tempest, such as the episode titles and the achievements you get for completing them. Moreover, the play is shown to be played by Blackwell Academy's theater group.
- The "i" in Life is Strange: Before the Storm is non-capitalized, which was initially contrary to the first game's title. The title of the original Life is Strange has been updated in July 2017 and both titles now match.
- The Steam product title had an upper case "T" in contrary to most uses and even the Steam product description. The product title has been updated in July 2017 and now matches the most frequently used title.
- According to the game files, the working title for Before the Storm was "Project Dawn"; the filename of the game's logo is "ProjectDawn Logo S5-13". For some time around the release of Episode 1, people were able to find a listing for "Life is Strange: Project Dawn" on the Xbox One version of the game. The developer build of the game being also entitled "Dawn". This codename could have been chosen because of Rachel's middle name: Rachel "Dawn" Amber.
- Casting calls for the game under its codename "Project Dawn" were posted on June 28, 2017, looking for two female actors to workshop, motion capture and voice over "a highly dramatic scene for an upcoming cinematic narrative adventure video game title for a AAA game publisher." The scene workshops, motion capture and voice over was planned to be done within the week of July 11-15, 2016. In the casting call, they used the codenames "Nikki" and "Jessica" for Chloe and Rachel. "Jessie/Jessica" and "Nikki" apparently are the names Dontnod used for the characters in pre-production. Hints at Rachel's original name "Jessie" can still be found in the game files.
- The game is the only one in the franchise, from the ones featuring "Collectible Mode", that this mode isn't actually called "Collectible Mode". The name for this mode in Before the Storm is "Collector Mode".
- A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the Deck Nine Games team took place on August 10, 2017.
- The font used on promotional images is called "Mixtape Mike" and can be downloaded here.
- The font used for "Before the Storm" in the game's logo is called "India" and can be downloaded here.
- #e80aca is confirmed to be the official color code for the "Before the Storm pink" by Community Manager Toby Palm.
- In a let’s play by German YouTuber Gronkh (timestamp at 6:01), the journal pages were opened for a brief moment prior to the game's release.
- Co-Game Director Chris Floyd stated in an interview that they "tried to design it so that people would come to our game first, we didn't spoil anything from the original game, and tried to make it a self-contained story so that it can easily roll into the next one."
- Deck Nine initially thought about using Frank or Victoria as a playable character for Before the Storm. Frank was the first one that came to mind. Deck Nine was drawn to Frank's compassion, vulnerability, and heart of gold, despite a criminal nature. Lead Writer Zak Garriss still thinks Frank is a really interesting character. Victoria, on the other hand, intrigued them because of her "queen bee" factor and the idea that not only is she spiteful and conniving but also artistically talented. But it was Chloe Price who stood out as a great source of drama and storytelling due to her raw emotion fueled by sarcasm, anger, and resentment. As Zak Garriss puts it: "I think the challenge of making an angry character more human and sympathetic was really interesting to us."
Note: In the E3 Coliseum pre-release footage reveal, they show a few minutes gameplay more than in the previous gameplay videos (timestamp at 4:58 for the extra scenes).
- Official Website
- Feral Interactive website Steam Community announcements
- Square Enix NA Press Center
- Main article: Community Management
Deck Nine Games
- ↑ Ashly Burch on being credited as "Writer"
- ↑ Official Announcement Post
- ↑ Feral website
- ↑ Steam Store page
- ↑ Official Reddit FAQ
- ↑ Stated by David Hein, Producer of Before the Storm, on the Reddit AMA. Original Reddit thread here
- ↑ Stated by Zak Garris, Lead Writer of Before the Storm, on the Reddit AMA. Original Reddit thread here
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 From Chaos: The Aspirational Storytelling of Life is Strange (May 13, 2020).
- ↑ Reddit post by /u/denetii
- ↑ Report: Life is Strange prequel leaked (June 1, 2017)
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 PlayStation Developer Idol Games Rebrands as Deck Nine Games, Partners with Major AAA Publisher (dualshockers.com)
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Deck Nine Games' website, technology section
- ↑ Reddit post by /u/IgelRM
- ↑ E3 Coliseum Panel (June 14, 2017)
- ↑ Making a Real Story About Teenage Life (October 4, 2017)
- ↑ ref needed
- ↑ ‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm’ developers reveal reason for prequel choice (October 4, 2017)
- ↑ Twitter post by Ashly Burch
- ↑ Twitter post by Nik Shriner
- ↑ Life is Strange: Before the Storm got a lot of help from exiting voice actor Ashly Burch (June 14, 2017)
- ↑ Deck Nine Talks Deleted Scenes And Queer Characters In Life Is Strange Prequel (gameinformer.com, March 27, 2018)
- ↑ Life is Strange: Before the Storm Classic Chloe Outfit Pack
- ↑ Life is Strange: Before the Storm releases on macOS and Linux
- ↑ "Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, As Told By Steam Reviews", Kotaku (September 8, 2017)
- ↑ Metascore for Life is Strange: Before the Storm on PC, Metacritic, (Metascore based on 19 critic reviews as at April 14, 2020)
- ↑ Metascore for Life is Strange: Before the Storm on Xbox One, Metacritic, (Metascore based on 6 critic reviews as at April 14, 2020)
- ↑ GamesRadar+ E3 awards - our best, most exciting games of E3 2017 (June 19, 2017)
- ↑ Best of E3 2017 – Day Three: Fighter, Adventure, RPG, Shooter, Action (June 21, 2017)
- ↑ The Game Awards 2017: List of Nominees (November 14, 2017)
- ↑ Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Switch Version Is A Possibility (June 23, 2017)
- ↑ Expect 8 to 10 Weeks Between New Life Is Strange Episodes (June 13, 2017)
- ↑ Gamescon 2017 Official Website
- ↑ Before the Storm's IMDb page
- ↑ (Russian) GAMESCOM 17 - Interesting details about Life is Strange: Before the Storm Google Translate (August 27, 2017)
- ↑ Life is Strange: Before the Storm EULA (August 30, 2017)
- ↑ Square Enix removes Denuvo anti-tamper tech from Life is Strange: Before the Storm (October 19, 2017)
- ↑ Video game voice-actor strike might finally be over (September 26, 2017)
- ↑ ref for production start needed
- ↑ Ashly Burch And Hannah Telle Return In LIFE IS STRANGE: BEFORE THE STORM Bonus "FAREWELL" Episode
- ↑ Episode 3 preview gameplay by Wikia
- ↑ Reddit post by /u/Fry98
- ↑ Auditions for Teen Actresses in Denver Colorado for Video Game Project on AuditionsFree.com (June 28, 2017)
- ↑ Auditions for Teen Actresses in Denver Colorado for Video Game Project on Shook.com (June 28, 2017)
- ↑ Announcement post
- ↑ Life Is Strange Dev And Lead Actress Say Why The Series Was An Emotional Journey At Its Conclusion (December 20, 2017)