“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” This maxim has been instructed to us in television shows, books, classrooms. It should be easy enough to remember, and yet life has a way of making us forget what is most truthful. We forget that a cover does exactly what it says and that all of the important parts lie behind the formatted pictures and witty titles. We forget that a person is more than what we first perceive: they are a culmination of the stories, hopes, fears and circumstances of their past. We know the phrase by heart but our heart doesn’t know the phrase.
When I heard that Square Enix was producing another Life Is Strange, I was ecstatic. When I heard that it was going to be a prequel about my least favorite character, Chloe Price, I was skeptical and disappointed. But when I started playing Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, and stepped into pre-blue hair, “let’s break into Blackwell to skinny dip in the pool” Chloe’s fringed shoes, I was simultaneously enchanted and surprised.
Before the Storm picks up with Chloe’s life before Max Caulfield’s return to Arcadia Bay. Her Mom’s boyfriend, David, hasn’t fully moved in, Rachel Amber is still alive and the town’s weather is still fairly normal. The Chloe that we get in Before the Storm is a girl with soft edges but a stony core made evident through her journal entries addressed to the flaky, out of town Max. Her writing and thoughts are a mix of angry sarcasm, playful vendettas, and friendly jabs. I assumed that the Chloe Price I knew from Life is Strange needed no one. But seeing the world through her eyes tells a different story. After opening her cover we begin to see bits and pieces of the girl behind the steel wall. We’re shown the madness behind Chloe’s methods and the heartbreaking yet beautiful story beneath a death-metal cover.
There were several moments during gameplay where I had to stop and sit in quiet awe at the compassion and empathy I was feeling for this character who I spent an entire series disliking. I could see the beating heart behind the leather and found pieces of myself reflected back. I cheered at her victories and cried at her losses. Chloe Price is the kind of girl who would intimidate most if they met her in person. We have all been that angry teenager. We’ve had friends move away or stop returning our calls. We’ve felt targeted by authority and an obligation to respond. We’ve all had prisons that we’ve wanted to escape from. We’ve all felt the rush as we’ve broken things that didn’t belong to us. We’ve all been (or still are) a Chloe Price.
Before the Storm took a character from a story that I’d already read chapters four through eight of and made me care about what happened in chapters one through three. It shows us that if we skip over a book just because of its dark cover with bold, harsh text, we may be missing out on one of the most meaningful characters we’ll ever experience on the pages inside. That if we judge a book by it’s cover, we may be missing out on a Chloe Price.
After finishing the first episode of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, I took to social media to express my thoughts. My status: “I take it all back. I now wouldn’t think twice about sacrificing a town for Chloe Price.”