Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode Three review – Pay the Price

Credit: Deck Nine, Square Enix
Credit: Deck Nine, Square Enix /

Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s finale episode, Hell is Empty, slowly but surely wraps up this down-to-earth prequel story.

Developer: Deck Nine
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: December 20, 2017

One of the most interesting personal challenges I’ve experienced playing through the Life is Strange series has been relating to the characters. I am not an Oregonian teenage female highschooler with an affinity for the fine arts. Instead, I am a mid-20s male living in Boston who loves technology and computers. But these superficial descriptors are far from the point of the Life is Strange series. It’s an emotional story of self-exploration that tackles real, tough topics of everyday life. Topics that are meant to resonate with your human soul, no matter who you are.

Life is Strange Before the Storm
Credit: Square Enix /

I think Before the Storm could have benefited from another episode or two to really tie the two stories together.

These same themes and tonal elements persisted throughout the Before the Storm prequel. In fact, they were amplified even more due to the game’s focus on narrative storytelling and character progression instead of gameplay mechanics. Hell is Empty, the third and final episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, went all-in on the prequel’s down-to-earth temperament. This finale was all about conversational choices and character relationships as it attempts to fill in the blanks about Chloe and Rachel’s background. So much so that it often felt more like I was watching a TV drama than playing a video game.

Overall, Hell is Empty provided a relatively typical Before the Storm episode with a noticeably larger focus on significant dialogue choices. Deck Nine left some of the game’s toughest decisions until this final episode. These decisions were all tough moral quandaries that made you really think about how this might have an effect on both Chloe and others. This was the first episode where Chloe really started showing a bit of maturity, ditching the constant (and cringe-worthy) backtalking from the first episode in favor of more heartfelt conversational choices. While Chloe’s transformation was essentially forced due to limited dialogue options, the story still showed how her relationship with Rachel made her start actually caring about something other than herself.

Life is Strange Before the Storm
Credit: Square Enix /

The finale’s plot was also the first time in the prequel that showed how everything is not exactly what it seems in Arcadia Bay. While the twists and turns this episode were not nearly at the same level as the original Life is Strange finale, it did just enough to shed some light on the true nature of certain characters and their relationships. Even though we ultimately know the fate of these characters, these revelations help explain why they are the way they are in the original series. And in that regard, Before the Storm succeeds as a prequel.

With only three episodes, though, the overall pacing of the series seemed off. The series as a whole felt slow, and at times this final episode felt like it was progressing at snail’s pace. Then at other times, Chloe would be rushing from one important decision to the next. The story had numerous small but important story threads that were left unanswered in favor of unexciting, inconsequential tasks.

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This is part of the reason why I would say Hell is Empty doesn’t quite manage to fill in all of the blanks I was expecting the finale would. Without getting into spoilers, there are just too many holes left unfilled, both from within this third episode, across all of Before the Storm, and in regards to the events that happen between Before the Storm and the original Life is Strange story. I think Before the Storm could have benefited from another episode or two to really tie the two stories together. While this third and final episode poured its heart out narratively, the lack of true closure made the ending feel unfulfilling and left me yearning for more.

6.5. <em>Before the Storm</em>‘s final episode delivers a heartfelt but unfulfilling conclusion to its realistic story about relationships and personal transformations. The numerous important conversational choices felt meaningful and heartfelt. But the game’s slow pace, unfinished story threads, and its restricted ending took away from the narrative’s full potential, leaving too many unanswered questions for<em> Life is Strange</em> fans.. Deck Nine. . Life is Strange: Before the Storm Ep. 3

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.