While its 2015 predecessor dabbled in teenage unrest, finding one's identity, and time travel to explore consequences, the sequel is focused on why and how some decisions can't be fixed or saved. Newcomers will simply not appreciate or notice as much of what's going on in the story -- such as questions that were left unanswered, or the significance of some settings -- but series devotees may either be impressed or turned off by Life Is Strange: Before the Storm's bold and arguably laudatory move to eliminate unnecessary puzzles. While the previous game was stopped in its tracks by an obligation to make the game feel more "gamelike," this one is much more intent on having you focus on characters, story, and developing relationships with everyone you come across. As such, the running time on the first installment is noticeably short, because the experience has been made more streamlined with more opportunities to breathe. This is both a good and bad thing. Rather than rehash a bunch of stuff, Before the Storm is poised to tell its own story even if series fans know the fate of all involved in the early game that follows later in plot. But even still, the first episode feels a tad rushed: the few things you know are supposed to happen feel tossed off and rushed compared to everything else.
Regardless of where you are, though, the overall flow of the game stays the same: fully probe one set-piece, learn what you can, and talk to people. There's no big boss to fight -- just decisions to make and making the call about how honest you want to be. It's a very different sort of game. Out of the gate, Before the Storm had a lot of knocks against it -- easily the biggest was the fact that the voice actors' strike prevented performers from coming back to reprise their roles. Surprisingly, and something that's no small feat, this prequel's acting isn't as glaring as it might have seemed. On top of that, this being developed by another studio has so far proved that creative license has only been taken with full respect and with bold direction. It will certainly be interesting and refreshing to see where it's heading.