Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Episode 3: Hell Is Empty Review

By Rebecca Smith, 1 year ago
If there's one thing you'll quickly learn during Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, it's that nothing ever goes to plan. The end of "Episode 2 - Brave New World" was a perfect example of this, when all of Chloe and Rachel's plans were thrown into turmoil by a revelation that a lot of people didn't see coming. Now, you're likely wondering what's next for the duo and, more importantly, how their story will tie in to the events of Life Is Strange. "Episode 3 - Hell Is Empty", the last in the trio of episodes that make up this prequel, aims to answer both of those.

At least the fire's outAt least the fire's out

During the second episode, the teenage duo came up with a plan that would have seen them leave Arcadia Bay. Had this come to fruition, both their lives and the events of Life Is Strange would have arguably been very different. While that plan has been abandoned, Rachel's life will still never be the same again and nor will her relationship with some important people in her life. She feels like much of her life has been a lie and it's a topic that is explored in depth during the episode. Players are often asked to decide whether it is better to tell the truth and do the right thing at the risk of hurting the people they love the most, or live out a lie to keep the peace. These decisions are never clear cut and the answers say just as much about the players themselves as they do the characters in the story, none more so than the final big decision that will give one of two conclusions to the story.

During Life Is Strange, it's extremely obvious that Rachel had quite an impact on the residents of Arcadia Bay, so it doesn't feel out of place that she takes centre stage in Episode 3 of Before The Storm. Despite the shift in focus to Rachel's story, Chloe still has an important part to play. Her methods and connections are the way to get any results even if they are somewhat questionable. Her backtalk mechanic is one of those methods that plays a very appropriate role on the few occasions that it's used, being used to persuade and deceive rather than abuse, but the mechanic is still sorely underused just like in the second episode.

One of the few times where Chloe's lost for wordsOne of the few times where Chloe's lost for words

Chloe's relationship with Rachel doesn't really grow in this episode but then it doesn't need to do so. Depending on your decisions in earlier episodes, the pair are either the best of friends or lovers, and nothing is going to change that. On the contrary, some of Chloe's other important unresolved story points are either glossed over completely. Other plot points are over too quickly, like when both Chloe's and David's personalities seem to change dramatically to conveniently resolve her relationship with her mother. This may be because of her relegation to the role of sidekick or the need to fit everything into three episodes, but you can't help but feel like a fourth episode may have been beneficial.

Chloe and Rachel aren't the only characters for whom we're tying up loose ends. Through the story itself or exploring the different scenes through which you progress, you'll see how things work out for a variety of major NPCs and more fleeting minor characters. As with the teenage duo, your decisions in previous episodes will affect some of these stories. In a move that doesn't really become obvious until the end, when the results screen appears that allows you to compare your decisions to those of others, some of the different actions and options within the story may not even present themselves to you because of those decisions. It's one of the few games where you truly feel like your decisions make a difference.

It'll take more than a bit of oil to fix thisIt'll take more than a bit of oil to fix this

The episode isn't all about conversations and those all important decisions — there's also some puzzles to solve. These begin as very basic problem solving, such as when trying to fix the truck and having to choose the right tool for the job. Later in the episode they become more challenging, like the multi-part puzzle that sees Chloe trying to persuade a psychotic drug dealer to tell her where he's located. Unlike the second episode where the puzzles were the weakest part of the game, these puzzles are well designed and don't make the player toil unnecessarily over a scene looking for the next clue.

Finally, the achievements for Episode 3 follow the same rules as those in the previous episodes. There's an achievement for completing the episode and then there's ten that are linked to completing the optional graffiti spots. As usual, guides will help you to locate all of these fairly easily, of course, and the game's Collectibles Mode will allow you to return to specific scenes in order to complete those that you missed. Finally, there's the repurposed achievement. Originally supposed to be rewarded for completing the bonus episode, Deck Nine changed the achievement so that it unlocked for completing all three episodes, making the full 1000G available to those who haven't purchased the Deluxe Edition. As such, the episode will award players an easy 400 Gamerscore for completion.

Check out our Best Xbox Adventure Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

"Episode 3 - Hell Is Empty" brings Life Is Strange: Before The Storm to its conclusion, resolving the story of not just Chloe and Rachel but also that of many other characters. Unfortunately some of the story points seem rushed to conclusion, likely a result of trying to tell a story in three episodes instead of five, and Chloe's backtalk mechanic is still criminally underused. On the other hand, there are improvements to the puzzles in this episode. Along the way, players will make many decisions, some far easier than others, all of which have some effect on the story to truly make it a tale of your own creation. Some players may well prefer Max and her powers to the more grounded story of Chloe, but the prequel is still a worthwhile journey through Arcadia Bay and an appropriate telling of the events before Max returned to the area.
4 / 5
Episode 3: Hell is Empty in Life is Strange: Before The Storm
Positives
  • Tough decisions to be made and they make a difference
  • Lots of characters' stories are resolved
  • Improved puzzle solving
Negatives
  • Some story points are rushed to resolution
  • Backtalk mechanic is still underused
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent three hours trying to fix Rachel's mess while trying to work out how to sign somebody's cast for a graffiti spot. She gained all of the episode's 12 achievements for a total of 400 Gamerscore. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.