The second and penultimate episode of the prequel to the highly loved Life Is Strange is here. Will Episode 2, subtitled Brave New World, improve on Episode 1- Awake, or will it suffer from Act 2’s slightly mundane middle section. Before you read on, please read my review of Awake for details of the gameplay mechanics, story beats and of course my final verdict.
The story picks off from the end of Awake, with ramifications for both Chloe and Rachel on their return to school. Like Awake the story continues to focus on the relationship between Chloe and Rachel, introducing Rachel’s parents early on, and then more extended scenes with Frank and Awake’s opening scene bad guy. Gameplay-wise not much has changed, with moments of Backtalk being available in order to progress past certain scenes, the one with Skip being particularly entertaining as you try to gain access into the school dormitories.
If anything the story suffers from having to further explore the relationship between Chloe and Rachel, as this takes up the bulk of the episode, as it did in Awake. This doesn’t leave an awful amount of time to explore Chloe’s relationship with her mum, or for her to deal with the new family dynamics she finds herself in. It really puts all its eggs in one basket, developing the relationship between the two friends, which mirrors Chloe’s actions, as she too is apathetic towards anything in her life except her new best friend. In the moments of alone time with just Chloe it’s a bit dull, especially a junkyard search for items that will spruce up the inside of an abandoned van.
When the episode does kick into life it’s reminiscent of its predecessor, but there are only a couple of moments where there are serious decisions to make. But when these arrive they really do require some soul-searching in order to make the correct choice. It’s hard to remain spoiler free, but just how do you make the right decision when both outcomes will have grave ramifications for school friends.
Chloe does show a softer, more caring side in this episode if you choose those decision paths, and the final moments with Rachel’s parents put her into a family environment which you know she is part craving and part despising. The final cliffhanger is somewhat of a soap opera moment which you are not expecting, and despite all my pondering, one I can’t quite understand, but it is intriguing to see where it will lead.
A big change which I didn’t encounter in Awake was that a decision made right in the opening scene will change a gameplay scene later on within the performance of The Tempest play. I don’t recall such a decision in Awake that altered gameplay to this extent, but maybe I just missed it. In fact, many decisions in Brave New World feel like there will be consequences in the final episode and I will be going back to replay certain moments just to see if and how the story changes.
But, the one thing that Life Is Strange always nails is the look and feel of Arcadia Bay. Some of the scenes are filmed in such a cinematic way that you feel like they have just popped out of a movie. The screenshot below is a perfect example of one of these shots, with the two best friends captured plotting their next move framed by streetlights and falling ash from the forest fires. The music is also spot on as always and each track has been added to my Life Is Strange playlist!
Overall, “Brave New World” is on a par with the previous episode, despite feeling shorter and less dramatic. The forest fire that starts in Awake is still raging and although only referenced in passing it still creates a feeling of impending doom. Due to the events of Life Is Strange you know that Chloe’s and Rachel’s relationship and future plans are not going to have a happy ending, therefore the action taking place in Before The Storm are like the fire, with the inevitable doom on the way.
Thanks to Xbox and Square Enix for supporting TiX