I will admit, and I made it quite clear from my review of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm’s Episode 1: Awake, that I wasn’t the biggest fan of how Deck Nine portrayed a high school friendship. Similarly, I just didn’t believe in the relationship between Chloe and Rachel. To me, the introduction into the relationship felt forced and unnatural, which disconnected me from the story that was being told. Many pointed out scenes that they thought were great in Awake, such as the Dungeons and Dragons scene, but I wasn’t distracted by these moments — I was more concerned with where this story was going and how two people could become so close in less than 24 hours.
With that said you can probably guess my hesitation when jumping into Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2: Brave New World. I was worried that the developer could just be leading the player down a narrative that they wanted to tell, instead of one full of deep relationships and strong bonds. However, Brave New World not only cleared up many assumptions that I had about the direction of the story, but it also made the game a more real experience for me, relatable to how I felt when playing through the original Life is Strange.
It’s recommended that you play through Life Is Strange: Before the Storm’s Episode 1: Awake before reading on as story details will be discussed.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2: Brave New World begins with the fire that Rachel started raging toward Arcadia Bay. This fire was the result of Rachel’s anger towards her father and the cards that fate dealt her. As an actor, Rachel acknowledges that she is surrounded by others who are acting, her parents included. This is a major theme of the episode and is very well represented as Chloe continues her adventurous and often careless lifestyle.
With the episode’s pacing and themes in the hands of Rachel, Chloe had someone to rely on when she would otherwise have nobody. It’s learned very early on that Chloe will only be known as the outcast of her peers at Blackwell Academy. Aside from Elliot and Rachel, everyone has given up on Chloe and these feeling can be enforced depending on the player’s choices.
Strangely, Elliot and Rachel are fighting over Chloe’s attention without even really knowing it. Chloe often struggles to balance the two and it’s up to the player to decide what kind of relationship they wish to have the two characters. I felt like it was made too clear that Chloe preferred Rachel by default and I felt like Elliot never stood a chance. Instead, I felt like he played the character who could never get it right and was trying his hardest to find a common ground with Chloe, but was often left ignored.
Elliot’s affection for Chloe is pure and I’d like to see how their relationship unfolds during future episodes, but as for now he pretty much sits on the sidelines and represents the stereotypical “boy who just couldn’t get the girl”, which reminded me a lot of myself (yikes). I wish the story didn’t push the player to care more about Chloe and Rachel’s relationship than her’s and Elliots, but it does. Even if the story relies heavily on player choice, Chloe’s default reactions to situations make it seem like she would be happier with Rachel in her life, instead of Elliot.
Being a prequel, some additional loose ends are tied up and we learn more about Chloe’s relationship with Frank Bowers, the drug pusher. I appreciated their banter and trust between each other, but I’ve also never heard of a drug dealer being so casual with their buyers. That being said, it does move the plot of Brave New World to an interesting point and I’d really like to see how this plays out.
Consequences of player’s action in the previous episode will pop up from time to time and really make you think about how you handled things in the first Episode. However, I enjoyed how the developers made these consequences feel genuine, without forcing the player to feel like they should restart the entire game and change their choices for a new outcome.
As stated above, my biggest criticism of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm’s Episode 1: Awake was the friendship between Chloe and Rachel. In Brave New World, Chloe puts her neck out a few times for Rachel and it shows how much she really cares about her new friend. Still, I was left asking why she would do that for someone she just met. However, after learning more about Chloe and how she deals with situations it’s clear that she is just a high school student and time seems to run at a different pace when you’re younger.
Experiencing the events through Chloe’s eyes made me remember what it’s like to fall in love on a daily basis in high school. This feeling was only instilled in me by learning more about Chloe and in turn learning more about myself. I didn’t experience this in Awake and I felt less connected to the characters and plot. Additionally, there are times when Chloe is put out of her element and it’s interesting to see how she deals with situations that she’s not used to being in.
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2: Brave New World is a great new chapter in the Life Is Strange series and I’m happy to be a part of the story. The Episode isn’t without its faults as it struggles to balance the few relationships that Chloe has, but I’m impressed with the pacing and themes that Brave New World brings to the series.
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2: Brave New World showed me what Deck Nine is capable of in terms of storytelling and character growth. Also, the game’s choice system is well thought out and represented a wide variety of possibilities for many types of players. Lastly, after finishing Brave New World, I’d like to add that the worries I originally had for the rest of the series drifted away as Chloe and myself looked towards the future Episodes.