Next week, Life is Strange: Before the Storm will come to its conclusion. The story of Chloe Price has taken some unexpected twists and turns, but from the looks of the trailer revealed last week, the story is about to end with a huge bang.
Earlier this week, Shacknews was able to take the briefest of looks at the final episode. Here we saw some of the fallout of the second episode's big cliffhanger, how it affected Chloe and Rachel Amber, and also witnessed the beginning of Chloe's transformation into the person that players would meet during the original series. We were even treated to another dream sequence, with a certain something we'll touch on a little bit later.
Before Chloe's tale comes to an end, Shacknews decided to get a few words with Deck Nine Games' Chris Floyd. We discussed the final episode 'Hell is Empty,' Chloe Price's evolution over the course of the game, the player's changing perceptions of Rachel Amber, and yes, we made sure to ask about that omnipresent bird that seems to show up in critical moments. We even made sure to toss in a few questions that we've been asking ourselves since the end of 'Brave New World.'
Shacknews: Where are our characters, mentally, at the start of this episode, given that they were thrown for a loop at the end of episode two?
Chris Floyd, Deck Nine Games Co-Game Director: I think there's a lot of questions in players' minds and in those characters' minds heading into the start of episode three, so there's going to be a lot of questions answered. And then there are going to be some big choices they're going to make regarding how they're going to react to that.
Shacknews: We've seen Sera pop up throughout the story, but we know very little about her or what her motivations are. How much do we learn in the final episode?
Floyd: You learn a lot more, for sure. You learn who she is, what she's about, what her circumstances are. They're really critical, at least in Rachel's mind, to the question of 'Who is Rachel?' And so that's why that's going to be a really important part of the story for episode three.
Shacknews: The trailer for episode three shows a lot more of Damon Merrick, a character that players got to meet in person in the second episode. They heard a lot about him in the first episode. But can you tell us more about this character and just how much power he has in Arcadia Bay?
Floyd: I don't want to spoil too much about what they get into in episode three. But Damon's the sort of character who doesn't have a lot of boundaries, in contrast with Frank, who is his friend... but who we're trying to portray as somebody who has certain lines he won't cross. So the two of them make an interesting contrast.
Shacknews: I've been fascinated by Chloe's arc throughout this story, particularly in the second episode where she comes across as a young kid searching for where she belongs in life. She comes across a lot more vulnerable than she did in the past. How much of Before the Storm is about Chloe searching for her identity and what she wants out of life?
Floyd: That's a big piece of it and that's one of the things we set out to do when we started crafting the story. To some degree, we wanted to say we know Chloe at 16, she's lost her father, her best friend, and we know we'd at least heard how low she was at that point. And we said that what's a fascinating story is this spark of Rachel Amber entering her life and how does this change her? How does this perfect person showing up at the perfect time in your life totally remake who you are?
So we tried to express that through the story and understanding that relationship, but we did try to show it in ways, like the way she dresses. We know we're going to get to the blue-haired, beanie-wearing Chloe eventually. But we wanted to show a little bit of that process starting, so we started her in very simple outfits, T-shirt and jeans. But we've added a little dose, essentially inspired by Rachel and this energy she has from energy, we start to show that through her outfits.
Shacknews: Speaking of vulnerable characters, you added some unexpected depth to Nathan Prescott. Can you tell us about how you approached his character, culminating with the breakdown he had in the middle of "The Tempest?"
Floyd: A lot of what we tried to do, and I think this is really inspired by what [Dontnod Entertainment] did in the first Life is Strange, as well, is... make sure no character is a caricature. As one of our characters says in episode two, nobody is just one thing. So we wanted to make sure we were always showing multiple sides of all of our characters. And in the case of somebody like Nathan, who is such an awful person in season one, we thought this was an opportunity to show how he gets there, as well, and diving into a troubled life and giving a little bit of sympathetic light on that.
Shacknews: Players went into Before the Storm knowing very little about Rachel Amber as a person. They had these perceptions of who she was based on what they had heard in the original game. So what do you feel people's thoughts and perceptions of this character are going to be once this story is over?
Floyd: First of all, she's kind of a mythological figure in the first game. Everybody talks about her with high praise, how amazing she was, of course we know she was really important to Chloe. When you meet somebody in the flesh, of course, it's always going to be a little different than that. But we know she had such a huge effect on Chloe and meant a lot to Chloe, so we wanted to show how amazing this friendship was. That's our core focus, so we really hope people have really fallen in love with Rachel the way Chloe has in this friendship.
But I think to stay true to season one, we also had to show that Rachel has maybe a bit of a dark side and we wanted to shed some light on that. I think creating a person who has both those aspects to her is one of our goals.
Shacknews: I thought about this as I was going hands-on and something just hit me like a ton of bricks. I have to ask this, since this is probably going to be the last time I get to talk to any of you guys before the last episode. What is the significance of the bird?
Floyd: (Laughs) Well, like a lot of the supernatural elements in the game and in our story... I don't want to speak too directly to it, but it does represent a lot of different things. I think we've seen a lot of suggestive things throughout the game about what the raven is, but like the deer in the first season, I think a lot of fans enjoy speculating about who or what that deer was doing. And we like the raven to live in that same space. I don't want to speak too directly to it, but we hope players are really intrigued by it.
Shacknews: And lastly, it's great to hear that Ashly Burch is back for the bonus episode. What does it mean to the team to have her back and can you give any idea of what fans can expect from that bonus episode?
Floyd: We're obviously super excited to have her back and have Hannah Telle, who did the voice of Max, as well. So it's super exciting to have those two voicing those characters. I can only speak a little bit to what 'Farewell' is, but it's going to be a really emotional episode of young Max and young Chloe back together again and just spending time together in a way that fans who love those characters are really going to enjoy. And I've heard some of the voiceover work that they've been doing and it takes you right back to the first season, so it's going to be great.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm's third and final episode, 'Hell is Empty,' will release on December 20. (Editor's note: The finale has gone gold and is now confirmed to release on December 19 at 9AM PT.) Catch up with our impressions of the game's first two episodes, Awake and Brave New World, and come back to Shacknews for our full review.