We made it, everybody; Life is Strange: Before the Storm has concluded with Episode 3: Hell is Empty. If you haven’t played the previous two episodes, then I’m not sure what you’re doing on this page, and you should probably check out my reviews for Episode 1: Awake and Episode 2: Brave New World to see if this is a series worth jumping into.
After a shaky beginning (expressed in my review of Episode 1: Awake), Life is Strange: Before the Storm redeemed itself in Episode 2: Brave New World as capable of caring the torch of what was so great about its predecessor. As I learned more about the characters, their situations and impulsive attitudes began to make sense. As it stands, Episode 3: Hell is Empty offered a decent conclusion to the story, but I ultimately was left feeling that the end was rushed and probably even deserved a fourth episode.
It’s advised that you play the first two Chapters before reading this review, the author will attempt to avoid story spoilers.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: Hell is Empty begins after the bombshell was dropped about who Rachel’s birth mother is. Chloe is left stuck in the middle of the situation and takes it upon herself to pick up the pieces. With a situation this intense, I would have assumed that the parents would ask Chloe to leave, but they discussed everything in front of her because Rachel asked, even though they technically just met her briefly the day before as she was being expelled from school.
This is where I’m torn about the relationships again after Episode 2 did so well. Everything seems forced by the developers hand instead of making these events feel more organic. However, that’s not to say that Deck Nine handled every interaction like this because there are some genuinely intense and well written moments that occur. I just wish that they put the effort of making Rachel’s family, who holds the spotlight throughout the entire Episode, a little more believable after something so critical shakes their lives.
Throughout the chapters, Chloe has grown on me and I have learned to enjoy her inner dialog about some of the set pieces and people around her. Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: Hell is Empty puts Chloe in some of the toughest situations that the game has seen to date. Sadly, none of these choices carried any real weight from what I saw besides one crucial moment. Still, Chloe’s character was put to the test and she had to confront every single one of her problems throughout the entire Episode, one after the next.
There were only a few new environments this time around, which included a hospital and additional rooms of Rachel’s home, but nothing to get excited about. Part of me wishes that I could have explored a few new areas, but since this was the conclusion it was better that Deck Nine kept environments recognizable and just added new ways to interact with the settings.
Being in high school, Chloe and Rachel seem to be having the worst experience of their lives. After Rachel finds out about her family’s secret, she asks Chloe to investigate her birth mothers whereabouts. Chloe seems to be putting so much faith in Rachel, and I found myself cheering them on, but at the same time I wanted Chloe to be a little more hesitant when it came to doing what Rachel asks.
Chloe encounters other hardships throughout the episode, including run-ins with Elliot and her mom’s boyfriend, David. As the player, I had to channel my inner angsty teen and approach each situation the way I would in real life. However, some of the response options given weren’t opposite enough for me to always give the reply I would have wanted.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: Hell is Empty handles the more critical situations commendably, even if it goes against Chloe’s character so the player’s personality can make an impact on the story. The scene with David was particularly well played out because it would seem that Chloe’s personality would just walk away from any situation involving him, and that is an option. However, I decided that I would hear him out, which made me feel that I affected their future.
This has always been my problem with choice driven games that focus on Dark or Light responses. In Life is Strange: Before the Storm your able to put more of yourself into Chloe’s character without the consequence of becoming a good or bad guy. It seems like in Episode 3: Hell is Empty, Deck Nine allowed the player to take the reins after I felt that some of the narrative in the first two Episodes were influenced by the developers instead of the player. For example: scenes that determine Chloe and Rachel’s relationship were my concern because it seemed like the developers wanted them to be lesbians, which I fell for. Thankfully, Episode 3: Hell is Empty brings these two characters closer than ever together, but that just further makes me wish with there was a fourth Episode.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: Hell is Empty is predominantly held back by its runtime, which I feel should have been spread across an additional episode. Ultimately, the ending felt rushed and had a few crucial scenes occur off camera only to be explained later on. The most significant choice to be made in the game held so much weight on the future of these character’s that I was left wanting so much more. However, there are some really well-written scenes and writing of Chloe’s character is some of the best I’ve seen from the series.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: Hell is Empty offered a nice companion to the Life is Strange universe, but the shock of the conclusion is lost when compared to the superior Episode 2. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy Episode 3, I just felt that it’s conclusion presented more questions than answers. Perhaps it’s a good thing the Life is Strange: Before the Storm left me with wanting more because now I wouldn’t mind if the series continued either with more prequel content or a direct sequel to Life is Strange.