The critically acclaimed story adventure game Life is Strange: Before the Storm was recently concluded in the third and final episode that released last Tuesday.
Although the narrative was finished, questions remain about both the behind the scenes process of creating the game, and the future of the series moving forward. Fortunately, we were given an opportunity to interview Zak Garriss, who works on the Deck Nine development team as narrative director, for answers.
Some minor spoilers for Life is Strange: Before the Storm are below!
Brendan Lowry, Windows Central: What has been the toughest part of developing Before The Storm?
Zak Garriss, Deck Nine development: Following in DONTNOD's footsteps in making a new Life is Strange was pretty terrifying, frankly. They accomplished something incredible in the first game, something so unique and beautiful and thoughtful. So even though we fought fiercely to get to make this project, even though we loved the first game with all our hearts and desperately wanted to tell a story in Arcadia Bay, the prospect was still intimidating.
In the end, it's been a privilege to tell Chloe's story, and the community's response has been overwhelming to all of us at Deck Nine.
Which character has been the most fun to write for and develop so far?
Chloe is my favourite. Her complexity takes the shape of seemingly opposing forces that nevertheless are quite real – she's fiercely independent and also incredibly lonely, wildly angry but also vulnerable, brittle in her pain but at the same time funny – getting to tell her story has felt like a story that almost anyone can relate to, in that.
Has it been a challenge to faithfully recreate Arcadia Bay from the perspective of a prequel?
Certainly! On the one hand, DONTNOD crafted a vivid and unique world with bold strokes that we, as diehard fans of the first game, could follow. But on the other, we wanted to tell a story that wove in and out of the version of Arcadia Bay fans knew from the first game – a story that could feel both familiar and, at the same time, new. That's always hard.
In the first game, Max's spirit animal was a deer. In Before the Storm, the frequent appearances of the raven seem to imply that's Chloe's. Is there any meaning behind that?
There is! I had a very specific set of meanings intended with the raven, which I will (perhaps frustratingly) refrain from sharing! All the details are there in the game; I will leave it to the community to decipher the symbol for what it's supposed to mean.
Rachel stands out in Before the Storm as one of the few main characters who we never met in the original game. Has creating her from the ground up with nothing to reference been difficult?
Well…in a way, we have had a sort of reference from the first game. Each character who spoke about Rachel served as a sort of mirror darkly, an indirect point in the constellation of her life. In that, she's the kind of person who leaves impressions everywhere she goes, impressions which often reveal more about the character impressed upon than the source itself. But we found a harmony in the ways the first game presented her, enough of one to construct a version we fell in love with for Before the Storm.
What inspired you to use The Tempest as a way to tell the story of the relationship between Chloe and Rachel in Episode 2?
Partly we wanted to visit the spectacle of theatre as a means of talking about high school, both because it's a thing that happens (often badly!) in schools everywhere, but also as a metaphor for the imprisonment of high school, the imprisonment of this particular time in a young person's life. For Rachel, performance has a freeing quality to it. For Chloe – or so she thought at first – the thought of performing on stage felt perhaps like the opposite, something frightening and forced, where she is scrutinized and staged. But in practice, Chloe found a freedom on that stage to trust, to hope, that she had yet to feel.
In that, it's Rachel's power at work. Just like Prospera, Rachel has a gift for unlocking people's desires and for imbuing them with inspiration. And Prospera's relationship with Ariel, a creature of great power – like Chloe – but also imprisoned, felt too good to pass up.
What I like most about Rachel and Chloe's Tempest experience is the question of consent; in the play, Ariel asks Prospero for its freedom but the wizard denies it. In Rachel and Chloe's experience, though, Rachel doesn't merely condemn; she pleas with Chloe. She goes off-book, taking Chloe off-book into a realm of thought she wasn't prepared for, presenting a fantasy she might not be ready to believe in, yet – but she nevertheless asks Chloe to comply. That's the true strength of Rachel's power: to persuade.
It's an interesting question I hope player ask, then, however swept up they might be in the beauty of the moment. Rachel's ability to persuade Chloe is spectacular, and real…but is it good?
Choices have always been a huge part of Life is Strange. In data tracking, have any of the choices people have made in the majority so far surprised you? If so, which ones, and why?
I'm still surprised there are people who don't share earbuds with Rachel on the train.
Before the Storm features several areas that previously appeared in the first game, such as the Junkyard. Which of these locations has been your favorite to work on?
Returning to Chloe's room was a lot of fun, using it as a space to curate the differences in her life at sixteen compared to nineteen in the first game. Blackwell, too, just because high school is so horrible, it's a space charged with potential drama.
Do you think that the Life is Strange universe has the potential to expand? Are novels, comics, or even a TV show a possibility?
Absolutely. Great stories are always evolving.
Building off that last question, do you think that it's possible we may see a sequel to the first game after Before the Storm's conclusion?
We're not announcing anything yet, but anything is truly possible. We'll have to see.
Are there any plans to support the Xbox One X with boosted visuals?
Yes, Xbox One X users can enjoy the game in native 4k resolution.
What's your opinion on everything Zak Garriss said in this interview? Let us know your thoughts down below.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm is currently available on Xbox One for $16.99.
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