The emotional rigor of adolescent life continues to rage on in Chloe Price in Brave New World, the second episode of Before the Storm. Faced with the consequences of her actions in Awake, Chloe finds herself in dark places with no one to reach out to for help. Rachel Amber, also suffering from inner turmoil, grows ever closer to the young teen as the pair draw up plans to run away from their problems. And yet, no matter how much you plan, life has a bad habit of throwing last minute curve balls.
In the previous episode, both Chloe and Rachel were left reeling after the revelation that Rachel’s father was seeing another woman. This act of infidelity ultimately shatters the facade Rachel had built around her like a wall, causing her to lash out against Chloe and the world itself by triggering a massive brush fire. Like the impending calamity in Life Is Strange, the brush fire becomes an omnipresent force in town and is the cause for a lot of metaphorical imagery during the episode’s many cutscenes. Unlike the storm, however, the fire doesn’t create much agency in the story and despite certain people’s hand-wringing over the disaster, no one really seems all that concerned about the event. Life goes on, then, for Arcadia Bay, and Chloe is having an even more difficult time trying to stay afloat.
It certainly doesn’t help that principal Wells has suspended Chloe from Blackwell Academy because she and Rachel skipped school (as punishment for her involvement, Rachel loses the lead role in the school’s production of The Tempest). And to make matters worse for Chloe, Joyce announces that David will be moving in with them, bringing him one step closer to becoming her stepfather. Angry at the world, Chloe finds solace in the junkyard, tending to an abandoned pickup truck she and Rachel decide to fix up and use to leave town. In the interim, Chloe continues to have dreams and visions about her dead father, Arcadia Bay’s secret drug ring cause problems for a student, the show must go on as Chloe winds up with a role in a Shakespeare play, and a confrontation between Rachel and her father yields a shocking confession.
As to be expected, Brave New World plays just the same as Awake, and I expect to say the same for the final episode. The backtalk system continues to be a neat, high stakes substitution for Max’s time travel powers. You’ll interact with a series of closed-off environments searching for items and clues to help advance the scene. Most of the time, these situations feel an awful lot like a busy work. In particular, there’s a sequence that has you setting a dinner table. Instead of putting out the plates, glassware, and lighting candles all at once, you have to speak to a character at the start of each task which feels like padding. On the other hand, because I was expecting an emotional outburst to occur, adding so many steps to such a simple task built dramatic tension for the big, breakout moment of the episode.
With only one episode left (well, two, if you’ve purchased the Deluxe Edition with an extra episode), the jury is still out about what I feel towards this mini-prequel. There are some really nice character moments in this episode which gives these young people a chance to be themselves and set aside the woes of the world for a minute or two. The episode also reveals a few hooks to hang Life Is Strange, which reaffirms my concerns with how deeply Before The Storm is entrenched in another game’s identity.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.