Preview: Life is Strange: Before the Storm Ep. 3: Hell is Empty and Life is Strange for iOS
With the third and final episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm due out on December 20, and the mobile version of the original Life is Strange coming out this Thursday, December 14, Square Enix held an event in Santa Monica, California where they gave members of the press a chance to play a bit of both, as well as a chance to chat with Deck Nine Games' Chris Floyd, the Co-Game Director of Before the Storm.
Spoilers for Before the Storm follow.
Chloe, Rachel, and Backtalk
When Episode 3: Hell is Empty begins, Rachel is curled up on her bed, and you, as her BFF Chloe, really want to be there for her. "In the first two episodes," Floyd explained, "we've seen Chloe and Rachel's relationship really blossom and, in many ways, Rachel kind of saving Chloe from this sort of imprisonment of grief from losing her father and her best friend Max. But we've also been learning about Rachel's family life, and in episode three, we're really going to see Chloe take that on; we've seen Rachel save Chloe, now Chloe is going to save Rachel."
Some of that, of course, will be contingent on what you did in the earlier episodes, Awake and Brave New World, because the decisions made in those earlier parts of Life is Strange: Before the Storm will impact what happens, and what you get to do, in Hell is Empty. "There are choices from the first two episodes that will have a big impact on what happens in episode three," Floyd confirmed, "including some scenes you may or may not get to see depending on what choices you made."
Floyd also said that while Hell is Empty doesn't have any major gameplay additions or changes, "we are doing different things with the backtalk mechanic that we introduced in the first episode, which was designed to embody Chloe's personality in gameplay." He declined to say exactly what would be different about the mechanic in this episode.
Regardless of what you did in the first two episodes, though, you'll begin Hell is Empty as I did: in Rachel's room, hoping to cheer her up. Which mostly involves looking at different items in the room, and thinking about what they mean to Rachel. You also do things like look through a drawer, scribble on Chloe's date book and her wall map, and mess around with her nightlight.
Now, as a guy pushing 50 years old, this kind of interaction seemed odd to me. If someone messed around with my day planner, especially when I'm in a funk, I wouldn't open up to them about my feelings, I'd tell them to get the out of my room. But given that Rachel is a different sort of person from me, I had to ask Floyd if Deck Nine Games has any teenage girls on their staff. "Our writing team is pretty diverse," he said, "and it includes some women who aren't that far from the teenage years. But we also do research and our due diligence on these kinds of things. We try to make sure that those kinds of moments feel sincere and true to life."
Life is Strange, now on mobile
As for the mobile version of the original Life is Strange, well, the big (and good) news is that it's basically the same game that everyone loved from a few years back. It not only looks the same for the most part, but thanks to having the same voice cast and musical score, it sounds the same as well.
In fact, the only real big difference in terms of how the game plays is that the controls have been reconfigured to work with the touchscreens of the iPad and iPhone. They didn't just didn't try to recreate the feel of playing the game on a console or computer by giving it a virtual joystick.
The iOS version of Life is Strange will also differ from the original by coupling the first three episodes — Chrysalis, Out of Time, and Chaos Theory — together in its initial release. The other two installments, Dark Room and Polarized, will be released individually in early 2018. The iOS adaptation of these episodes were developed by Black Wing Foundation, a Ukrainian studio that previous made such PC games as Scivelation, In Fear I Trust, and, most notably Stalin vs. Martians.
Unfortunately, no one from Black Wing Foundation made the trip to Santa Monica for the event. "I think they've done a really nice job with the controls," Floyd said of the mobile versions, "I was really impressed with them."
Whether you will be impressed as well will have to wait until Thursday. But think of it this way: now you know what to do while waiting for Life is Strange: Before the Storm: Episode 3: Hell is Empty to come out December 20.