PS4 • Xbox One • PC Chloe deals with her father’s death and finds comfort in a new friend in this prequel Characters’ awkward anim-ations break the immersion, but detailed items in the environment pick up the slack in creating the ambiance 8 » Concept » Graphics » Sound Music is still a focus, and every enjoyable song sets the scene. The voice acting is decent, but Chloe’s new voice actress is still warming up to her role, with some deliveries better than others Easy to pick up and play, but some obscured objects require a thorough eye. Replaying scenes, I often found things I missed Life Is Strange: Before The Storm – Awake Facing reality Style 1-Player Adventure Publisher Square Enix Developer Deck Nine Release August 31 Rating M » Playability Awake is at its best when it focuses on Chloe and Rachel’s complicated lives, making you feel each character’s struggle » Entertainment L » Replay Value Moderate ife is a series of struggles we can’t avoid. The original Life is Strange explored the concept of rewinding time to ease conflict and create different outcomes, but Life is Strange: Before the Storm is focused on reality. In this pre-quel, you have no special powers. You are forced to face life head-on and con-front its painful plights. New developer Deck Nine uses Awake, the first of three planned episodes, to emphasize choices and emotional turmoil. Awake retains the essence of Life of Strange (with plenty of callbacks to the original), but now you play from the perspective of Chloe and see her budding friendship with Rachel Amber. The result is an episode that pulls at the heart strings despite some stumbles. Before the Storm takes place three years before she reconnects with Max and two years after the death of her father, and she’s still grieving. Her depression has taken a toll, causing her to rebel and not care much about any-thing or anyone. Playing as a younger Chloe is a nice change of pace, as she isn’t completely the confident free-spirit she was in the original. She’s still figur-ing herself out, and has more naiveté and vulnerability that makes her more sympa-thetic. Rachel Amber is on the opposite end of the spectrum; she’s popular, gets good grades, and has a financially stable reviews family. The pair meet at a concert and embark on a complicated friendship, as they’re both facing their own trials. This episode is a slow burn, gradually introducing you to Chloe’s world. You travel to familiar places like Blackwell Academy, and to new locales like a punk club. One of my favorite aspects is seeing Blackwell students from the origi-nal game, like Victoria Chase to Nathan Prescott. However, you see younger versions that foreshadow their future. Victoria is still a stuck-up brat, but you start to see the beginnings of her con-cern for Nathan, while watching Nathan deal with his own difficulties from his father’s influence.