Life is Strange Arcadia Bay Collection: Is it worth revisiting on Switch?

Square Enix
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Life is Strange: Before the Storm: Remastered

Released two years after the original, Before the Storm was Square Enix realizing that they had to make a game with Chloe again. And as they absolutely painted themselves into a corner with the ending of Life is Strange, this called for a prequel.

The issue with the prequel is that in addition to you getting to spend more time with Chloe, this also means you get to REALLY get to know Rachel Amber, the character that in the first Life is Strange people talked about as much as people in a Pokemon game talk about Pokemon. Seriously, every character talked about Rachel Amber. Nah.

But now, if you loved finding out about her ultimate fate in Life is Strange, you’ll love investing hours upon hours into getting to know this person who will, inevitably, have the worst things fall upon her.

Now, since Max isn’t in this game as this was during her five years in Seattle, you don’t get access to her time travel AND her love of Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. But Chloe has a weapon stronger than both of those combined, a little something called “sass.”

Sometimes, when Chloe has absolutely had it with someone, she can just tear into them. This creates a mini-game in which you have to use everything you know about someone to smart mouth their every comment until they eventually give up trying to talk to you. And if you’re good enough, she drops more flaming dunks than an NBA Jam tournament.

Despite being only two years apart, the dialogue in Before the Storm is a SIGNIFICANT improvement over the original game. The characters still talk like lunatics, but it’s wittier and punchier than before. Some of the characters teeter on believable.

But remember what I said in the talk about Life is Strange about how Max and Chloe are assholes? That doesn’t change that much. You know how you’ll go to a concert and if you really want a shirt, you’ll get a shirt knowing that it’s stupid expensive? Well, apparently big music fan Chloe has never been to a concert because when she finds out a band shirt is selling for $20, she finds it PERFECTLY acceptable to destroy the vendor’s vehicle and, with it, his livelihood. This isn’t something that comes back to haunt you either. You just destroy the dude’s car and go about your day.

And while the game is still pre-pandemic, it didn’t feel like the world was as dated. The only issue I really had with this world was that I knew everything that would happen in the future and I absolutely hated seeing these characters in a game where nothing would happen to them yet. I know the little rich kid was going to thrive for a while. I knew too much about the Photography teacher. Chloe’s step-dad was going to end the game gainfully employed. It sucked watching these characters achieve their goals while also knowing the only characters in the game I care about were going to have the worst time.

But luckily it’s a lot more enjoyable getting there as the game’s graphics are a huge step up from the original. No one looks all that muddy anymore. The graphics have better detail to them. And some of the vocal work is a lot better too.

Honestly though, the game is way better than the original and if you’re new to both, I’d recommend going with this first. I know the prequel will have some mild spoilers but I feel that it’s worth it over knowing something really bad is going to happen and then playing a game where you watch every terrible person involved achieve their goals. If I wanted stories where people guilty of heinous acts achieved their goals I’d get into politics.

Ultimately, though, I think your enjoyment of Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm is going to come down to one simple thing. Have you played them before? Both games feature an interesting story and some truly heart wrenching choices that you’ll feel for days. But both also lose a lot in the second playthrough as there is no more mystery to the game and the game IS supposed to be a mystery first and foremost.

If you’ve never played it, you’re in for a big surprise. If you’ve done it before, it’s just going to feel like slow paced, late teen drama in a big way.