FIRE IS JEALOUS….
After a successful return trek to Arcadia Bay in Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s first episode, expectations were high from both myself and hopeful many others. Episode 2: Brave New World pretty much entails what the title suggests, with Chloe’s life changing in such quick and exponential ways. Every question that was created in the first episode gets an answer in the follow up but in doing so only leaves more mystery heading into the eventual final episode and canonical holes start to fill for those of you that like everything to come full circle. And with the loveable Life is Strange art style being improved upon and utilised in new and exciting ways and new tracks to the enigmatic soundtrack all come together to make a spectacular episode.
Brave New World begins with Chloe and Rachel being chastised by the cardboard cut-out that is Principle Wells for their previous actions in the first episode, leading to some unfortunate circumstances for our rebellious heroine. Tension also builds between Chloe, her mother and her estranged ‘Step-Douche’ leading to a rift that looks beyond repair and the friction between Rachel and her secretive Father also comes to a boiling point. A sobering realisation as you progress is behind her riot girl stampede , Chloe is a girl in denial. Many times you see her comment about how she’s glad about her turbulent education and family life, her sexuality and social status in such an uncertain tone that she becomes one of the most relatable characters in recent gaming.
Brave New World Starts out as an absolute firecracker. Chloe’s angsty rampage through the girl’s restroom with her trusty sharpie with the soundtrack backing it up is one of the highpoints of this 2-hour episode and (nerd out moment) the best use of a landscape shot I have seen in a video game. The rest of the episode acts somewhat of a powder keg, slowly but surely building up to a shocking conclusion which changes its tone from the end of Awake which ended in an epic and climactic fashion whereas Brave New World comes to an abrupt end in more of a soap opera style (seriously I’m surprised there wasn’t an Eastenders drum roll) with some moments in between that really make the decisions you’re confronted with take time to actually come to a conclusion to, and though there aren’t too many make or break choices to make in this particular episode they’re all tragically polarising and the paths they take culminate in some surprising results. But the blossoming cornucopia of this game as a whole is the relationship between Chloe and Rebecca, the characters around them may be a little hard to invest in at times but it is all overshadowed by your desire to see this pair succeed in their dream. Every time they are on screen together is beautiful, with even the more light-hearted moment in the episode becoming the most tender and yet it all becomes tragic on a Shakespearean level to the people that have played the first LIS game, when love is in the air only for ashes to rain down on you, that is what I call epic foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a recurring theme in this game, be it the huge forest fire blazing in the distance through the episode, the origin stories of Chloe’s truck and beanie hat being revealed (thrilling stuff, I know) or Nathan Prescott’s portrayal as Caliban in the tempest to insinuate a villainous slave in the making.
When it comes to gameplay it is what it is, come the ending statistics you realise what could’ve been explored with the time you had really and it makes you see that this is a lot bigger than your usual point and click, graphic adventure. The backtalk ability is utilised a little more in episode 2 but still sparingly enough to keep this new mechanic a highlight of the game and can lead to some interesting and comical exchanges, but the repetitive fetch quests are consistent throughout and makes this absorbing story drag sometimes but these still shouldn’t be seen as awkward filler to accommodate longer episode lengths as they all have a purpose to lead into something big in the story. Brave New World also takes you to some dazzling surroundings working in context so well from alluring outdoor theater sets to ominous campfire fever dreams which only solidifies Life is Strange as one of the most vibrant and artistically sound games out there right now.