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- Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s first episode is just about upon us, releasing at the end of the month. To help tide us over until it debuts, we’ve got about 10 minutes of the game to pore over during the wait straight from the developer.
I’m excited to see how the story plays out because despite its shortcomings I very much enjoyed the first game. Still, I’m staying cautiously optimistic, because Chloe immediately grates on the nerves, even more than before. Worse than that, she seems like she’s even less of a likable character before you meet her in the original Life is Strange.
The first gameplay video we’ve seen finds Chloe waking up, smoking a cigarette in her room, thinking back on a concert the previous night and potentially meeting Rachel Amber for the first time, and then getting ready for school. You can pick out a shirt for her to wear for the day, and the video has her choosing one from her favorite band, Firewalk. Obviously this is another Twin Peaks reference, just like Chloe’s eventual license plate on her truck we see in Life is Strange, based off of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
I appreciate the attention to detail, and the game is shaping up to be interesting enough, but I just can’t get behind Chloe. Everything I hated about her in the first game is still here in full force. I was hoping that perhaps she was less of a mean-for-no-reason angsty teen before adopting her dingy blue hair, but she’s still just as mean to her new stepfather as ever. And everyone else who rubs her the wrong way.
Perhaps she’s been giving David this kind of attitude for some time, and that’s why he’s reciprocating in the first few moments of the game as Chloe grabs David’s tools so they can get the car fixed up and get Chloe to school. Without Chloe paying rent or saying thank you, treating it as a right rather than a favor for her.
Still, Chloe’s inner dialogue (made more cringeworthy by her new voice actress) makes it difficult to empathize with her as she navigates such awful tasks as “getting a ride to school” and “bringing her mother’s boyfriend a wrench.” It’s hard to watch Chloe being treated so horribly in this manner. Being a teenager is hard.
I understand the pain behind losing a father and seeing your own mother looking for love again, then being immediately disappointed. But I just wonder why it’s necessary for Chloe to behave this way, entertaining “joking” thoughts to her mom about David “beating himself to death with tire iron, repeatedly” or filling up the flame extinguisher with gasoline “just in case David’s car ever catches on fire.” Her violent attitude toward her future stepfather is borderline disturbing, especially when you consider David’s actions in the original Life is Strange later on in the game that demonstrate just how much he cares about Chloe.
I’ve had my share of hard times, including unfair things that have happened to my family and my loved ones. I’ve lost best friends. I was a teenager when some of these things happened, but I was able to navigate these things without hating every single person around me or wishing harm on someone who, despite my protestations, is apparently making a loved one I know happy, like with Chloe’s mother. So it’s hard for me to understand or care about her plights when she makes no effort to push through and appreciate those in her life around her who still do care, despite all of her attempts to chase them away.
All of this culminates in the video with David seemingly excitedly chatting about carbon deposits in regard to his car to Chloe, who’s apparently somewhat of a skilled mechanic, if she’d just try. He’s clearly trying to reach out and make a connection to Chloe, who rebuffs each one. “You know, you could actually be good at this, if you’d lose the attitude,” he murmurs, tiredly.
“My attitude is what makes me special, David,” Chloe retorts.
“Alright,” David says quietly, defeated. Chloe refuses to accept his fist bump and leaves him hanging, then acts as though she’s been harassed because he gives her one anyway.
Being a teenager is so hard.