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Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Hell is Empty

I have been looking forward to the finale of Before the Storm because I was ready to find out what happened prior to Max’s return to Arcadia Bay in Life is Strange and see the conclusion to this intense relationship between Chloe and Rachel. So now that it has landed, what did I make of the final instalment? Please note, I have tried my best to avoid spoilers but there may be some along the way as they are hard to avoid this time around.

The opening explains who the mystery woman, Sera is and why she was with Rachel’s dad in the park. It’s a tale of sadness and woe as Sera is painted as a person who would choose an escape into a chemical fueled world over others. James Amber, Rachel’s father, attempts to steer his daughter away from the pull of trying to meet Sera and being dragged into a dangerous situation. Chloe has an opportunity to speak to the Amber family about this latest revelation as they plead with you to keep Rachel out of harm’s way by avoiding contact with Sera and the company she keeps. I found this section actually a little moving and the fact that Chloe is now involved in this ‘secret’ now feels like it means a lot to all involved and they’ve accepted how close these young women have become.

Chloe also gets a chance to explore Rachel’s bedroom and get to know more about the girl who has set her on this whirlwind path over the course of a few days. You find out she has a love of the stars and after a bit of searching around, manage to turn her room into an adorable starlit setting which I thought was lovely and rather moving. Rachel starts to get a little deep and tells you how her life is a lie but after a little while, you manage to convince her that you’ll be able to find Sera and even fix up a ride so you can get to her. It’s a sweet moment where the two become closer and trust one another completely which explains why it was so hard for Chloe in Life is Strange. I really enjoyed this part of the episode as it felt intimate and calm after a whirlwind cooked up in the previous episodes and up to this point, everything is as I expected, slightly awkward but as usual, the kids rebel against the wishes of their elders.

Chloe heads home and David has moved in, much to her dismay. You call Frank to try and find out where Sera is and he tells you to meet him at the junkyard. After showering and putting a little bit of the trademark blue in her hair, you get her ready and seek out William’s tool kit to fix up the junkyard truck. Chloe sees David attempting to cook for her mum and dancing to the music they’re playing. She looks happy which makes a change but soon David hears the movement in the house and heads in to try and apologise for his previous behaviour by offering a piece of himself as he opens up about a friend he lost in the army. My only issue with this section was the sound as the background music kept cutting in and out which distracted from the conversation a little. If the developers can do a patch to fix this, it will be a much smoother sequence. You can opt to take the photo he shows you or refuse it, I decided that after all the fighting maybe Chloe would cut him a break on this occasion. Once you’ve managed to get out of that awkward moment, you grab the tools and head out.

I oddly really enjoyed the junkyard sequence where you fix the truck up with Chloe. It was a nice few minutes without any worries about anything while you just figure out the best way to repair it. When Rachel arrives, she’s happy to see the truck working and Chloe showing off that she has the skills. Frank arrives, but he’s not alone. It turns out that Damon, the guy who put the hurt on Drew previously, isn’t too happy about you sticking your nose into his business and this results in an incident which sees Rachel in a bad way and needing a trip to the hospital. After a waiting room montage, the Amber’s let you know Rachel is ok and I felt relieved that this was the case. Drew is also in the hospital and you can choose to drop in if you wish. When you see Rachel, she still wants to see Sera giving you entry to her house and her dad’s office where there’s bound to be some information so you head out only to bump into Eliot… you know the guy who Chloe bailed on and who is obviously into you. He asks a lot of pressuring questions, insinuating that Rachel is getting Chloe into trouble which I found a little forced and odd to be honest.

At the Amber’s house, Chloe has the opportunity to explore the District Attorney’s office which is not only a massive invasion of privacy but you find what you’re looking for and open up a whole can of worms which you will have to deal with. As Chloe digs herself in deeper and deeper, it results in finding out a location for Sera but also a surprise visit from Eliot who has followed you and for some reason is now making you feel very uncomfortable. This section didn’t go so well for me anyway but I just felt that the sudden change in Eliot came out of the blue and I’m unsure whether it was really necessary in terms of telling the story. If just seemed like an extra thing to add in to force you into using the backtalk and at the end of it, I was left a little confused as to its purpose as it doesn’t really get mentioned again. I appreciate the writers didn’t want you to forget this guy existed, but for him to be this way just didn’t fit.

You have a couple of moments with Chloe’s dad in this episode which again, I was a little unsure about as Chloe knows her dad isn’t there and the questions she asks are something she can’t possibly know… so why ask them? I can understand why to a point, however in terms of the story telling, it didn’t add much for me and seemed to be one last opportunity to have William there. When you reach your destination, you explore a little before finding Sera in a sticky situation which was never going to be resolved with anything other than a bit of a fight. But once this has ended, you talk to Sera, having a little heart to heart which didn’t really resolve anything for me other than setting up for the final choice Chloe has to make.

After all that has happened over these 3 episodes, the final choice is one where I genuinely didn’t know whether it would affect the relationship between Rachel and Chloe or just their relationship with others. Either way, I didn’t find myself feeling overly emotional about it as I did with the first game and I was expecting to be weeping by the end. It moved everything neatly on to what we found out at the end of Life is Strange (no spoilers for those of you who haven’t played yet) and I only found myself feeling the need to go back to make the other choice just to see what happens and only one of them feels like it has any real impact on anything. Apologies for being vague, but I’m trying not to spoil anything for you!

Overall, I’m not sure what I expected from this episode, but it felt as though there was a couple of things thrown in just to keep the story going such as the sudden change in behaviour from Eliot which broke the momentum the previous episodes had built up. It just didn’t do it for me, which was a real shame. Looking at the whole season, it is still enjoyable just with a few moments that didn’t quite hit the spot for me in this episode which left me feeling a little deflated rather than emotional. The soundtrack is still great and some of the opportunities to just sit and listen to the music were enjoyable for a little break from the action and teenage drama. I would still recommend playing if only to see the friendship between Chloe and Rachel grow just to remind yourself of the impact they had on each other’s lives. For Deluxe Edition owners, there will be another chapter for you to play as Max again which is coming at some point soon so I look forward to seeing what this has to offer and I’m very tempted to start Life is Strange again just to go through it all again.

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