Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Is About Normalizing A Shitty Day

Life Is Strange
8
  • Playstation 4
  • Windows
  • Xbox One
2017-08-31

When Life Is Strange: Before The Storm was announced, there was a bit of concern regarding the decision to make Chloe Price the protagonist. She’s this wrecking ball of chaos that destroys everything in her path and deals with the mess later. She’s stubborn, selfish, loving, wild, free and broken. You know who Chloe is, but you don’t know what she’s thinking. That’s why Deck Nine Games wanted to tell her story.

Zak Garriss, lead writer for Life is Strange: Before The Storm, knew it would be a challenge to create a story for a character that’s so well established. When Deck Nine, the developers behind the game, began conceptualizing the story they looked at lots of characters, Rachel Amber among them. She’s a myth in the first game. You uncover details about Rachel through second- and third-hand accounts.

The first Life Is Strange told the story of Max, a teenage girl returning to her old hometown of Arcadia Bay, only to learn things aren’t what they seem. She reconnects with Chloe and the story unfolds from there. Max has a neutral personality, which means the player can make her as “good” or “bad” as they like. For example, there’s a scene in Life Is Strange where the school mean girl, Victoria, gets paint splattered all over her. Max can choose either to be nice to her or to take a picture and further embarrass Victoria. Put Chloe in that situation and she would have taken the picture without a second thought. Like Max, Rachel is a neutral personality that a writer can craft to their liking because no one knows who she truly is. Chloe isn’t, but that doesn’t mean her story isn’t worth exploring.

"On a deeper level, Chloe is a very broken person in a lot of ways and that's the most exciting thing to me as a writer and player,” Garriss told Player.One. “I'm really excited about what our game as a whole explores, which is just normalizing having a shitty day. Normalizing being a little broken, feeling out of place, feeling alone, not having answers, being angry about that, being alienated -- Chloe is all those things. Her vulnerability is incredibly human. We're absolutely asking our players to take a leap of faith with us and get to embody this character who has these flaws, but we think it's going to make for an incredibly enriching experience to take ownership over this person's world and make choices about how she's going to deal with all the things she's dealing with."

Life Is Strange
Chloe watches a band perform at The Mill. Photo: Deck Nine Games/Square Enix
Life Is Strange
Rachel isn't as perfect as she seems. Photo: Deck Nine Games/Square Enix

Shitty day is an understatement. Before The Storm is set three years before the events of Life Is Strange. Chloe is dealing with the death of her father and trying to gain control of her life when she meets Rachel, a girl who seems to have it all. Rachel is popular, talented, beautiful and loved. On the surface, she appears to be the opposite of Chloe in every way possible. But then something happens to Rachel and Chloe’s the only one who can relate to how she feels.

"We have this girl Rachel who everyone thinks is living a perfect life. And, in a lot of ways, maybe she is,” Garriss said. “But at this moment where the two girls meet, Rachel is about to learn something that's going to blow her world up. And Chloe just spent two years having her world blown apart. So she's got some strength in that regard that Rachel can kind of pull from. The act of getting to be strong for Rachel is incredibly empowering and freeing for Chloe.

I'm really excited about what our game as a whole explores, which is just normalizing having a shitty day. Normalizing being a little broken, feeling out of place, feeling alone, not having answers, being angry about that, being alienated -- Chloe is all those things. Her vulnerability is incredibly human. - Zak Garriss, lead writer for Life Is Strange: Before The Storm

“This isn't the story of Rachel's disappearance. This is the story of how Rachel met Chloe. There's an ambiguity that Chloe wields when she talks about Rachel in the first game. Even with Max, she doesn't speak to the details of what her relationship was like. To me, that's always spoken to how enormous that was for Chloe. It was so big, it was private. Even that was private. That created freedom for us because she never told Max exactly what the relationship was like...We can have the player decide what that looks like and that won't interfere with canon. It'll flow into the first game, which is something we treated as very sacred."

Unlike Max in the first game, Chloe doesn’t have a power. She can’t rewind time to change her decisions. For example, there’s a scene in Before the Storm where Chloe goes to a place called The Mill to see her favorite band perform. She spots a t-shirt vendor and wants to purchase one. The t-shirt costs $20. Chloe doesn’t have $20 and the guy selling them is an asshole to her. In the scene, you can choose to steal the shirt and get your vengeance. You can also take a step further and rob the guys of $200. You rob the man and the game prompts you that there will be consequences for this decision. You can’t take it back.

Life Is Strange
David is trying to have a relationship with Chloe. Photo: Deck Nine Games/Square Enix
Life Is Strange
Chloe gets into trouble...a lot. Photo: Deck Nine Games/Square Enix

Authorship over Chloe carries over to her relationships as well. You’ll see many familiar faces in Life is Strange: Before The Storm, including Joyce’s husband, David. At this point, Joyce has just started dating David and Chloe feels like it’s too soon for her to move on. Players didn’t get to see why Chloe and David’s relationship was so tumultuous in Life Is Strange. You’re led to believe David was always hard on Chloe. But that’s not the case. You’ll see David actually trying to bond with Chloe in Before The Storm.

"The players can have agency over how welcoming or not they are going to be of David,” Garriss said. "Part of her anger isn't about David at all. Maybe it's partially a choice for moving on for Chloe, who hasn't been able to let go of William, her dad, yet. She's looking at Joyce doing that and I think it's creating a lot of anger and frustration for her. She feels like Joyce is betraying her. She feels like she's betraying William. The relationship that she has with David in the first game is complex. We're excited about exploring a different period in their lives together and the choices that you make and the arc that you're going to experience even with David over the course of Before the Storm. It's going to feel different. It's a different time and chapter for both of their lives."

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is out Aug. 31 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Loading...
Join the Discussion
Top Stories