Sorry this is a little late. Been trying to organize my thoughts, and have other stuff going on. Here’s the thing about this game – it’s kind of a mixed bag. It’s not the original. Part of me is impressed that it is not trying to be. This game was created for one purpose and one purpose alone – to give players the back-story between Chloe and Rachel. But it does make your choices feel weighty. That’s one thing I’ll give this iteration that the original really didn’t have – player choice feeling substantial. Since there are so few episodes, there aren’t a huge amount of choices to keep track of. So the writing is easier. Plus, it’s easier to make your actions feel meaningful. Why am I going so far out of my way to preface this? I guess it’s because I honestly like this prequel. This review is going to be a little odd. See, there isn’t a huge amount of stuff to substantively talk about. The visuals are still in the same vein, and good. Hell, even the kissing animation you have access to later on isn’t the worst I’ve seen. It’s not Mass Effect 2 levels of clipping.
What do I think of this episode? As I said, the core of this prequel is to explain the growth of the relationship between Chloe and Rachel. And they got that right. My favorite parts of this episode are when you see the relationship between the two deepening. It feels pretty good. It’s not perfect. The dialogue is stilted as fucked. But where this game goes right is making the emotions match the scenes. You do believe these characters when they’re on stage together and Rachel is poetically confessing that she has a bond with Chloe that goes beyond typical friendship. That scene is heart-warming.
Here’s my issue with this prequel – so much of this really doesn’t feel like it’s tying in to the story from the original. It kinda feels like I’m ret-conning the lore of that game. After all, I have worked hard to make the relationship between Rachel and Chloe feel real. So if the events of the other game happen as you find out they did, then Rachel is doomed to basically cheat on Rachel with Frank. Given the passion between them, am I to assume that in the months or years from when the prequel ends the two got distant enough for Rachel to leave her girlfriend and not feel at least a little conflicted about it?
Not only that, you can affect where the two girls are looking to run away to, which plays a huge role in what everyone believes happened to Rachel in the original. Maybe all of this was developed just for fan service to fans of the original. Maybe I’m really over-thinking this. But as someone who genuinely enjoyed the original game, a lot of this plot stuff just rubs me a little wrong.
I don’t know. Maybe I need to change my perspective. Instead of seeing this as an extension of the original game, see it as its own story. Where I a guiding the romance between two characters, one of whom I have really grown to like. I still love Chloe as a character, along with the voice acting. As stilted as the dialogue is, at least it feels genuine with all the emotion she puts into it. I just know somebody is going to call me an SJW for liking this stuff. This game definitely takes inspiration from social justice talking points. Thankfully, that shit seems to be from characters in periphery. Chloe and Rachel are not just walking stereotypes of Tumblr feminists.
One thing I really wanna touch on is the dream sequences. I really do like them. Each one has a thematic purpose. The first is Chloe addressing the death of her father from her family, as more and more of him is being stripped away. The second was her addressing the pain of having her blossoming relationship with Rachel seemingly going up in flames, while her father is the voice of reason who tells her that she still has a place in her life. This episode had a really great sequence. It has William sitting in front of the car he crashed, burning, roasting a marshmallow with the raven. Really wondering what the raven is meant to symbolize in context of this story. The butterfly from the original symbolized Chloe as a character. The raven is a point of conjecture. Chloe sits and starts roasting a marshmallow herself, and William tells her that watching everything burn is beautiful, but she might be missing seeing what other beautiful things are being hidden from her by her perspective. We see this come to a point when she acts in The Tempest, with the stars in the sky sparkling like the ones on her outfit.
I also am really liking the new side characters you meet. There is so much more personality from them. Having a smaller cast let them give characters much more presence, and it really pays off. This episode has a conversation you can totally miss but I’m glad I didn’t between Chloe and Steph where you can grow closer or end up hurting her and I went out of my way to be honest about the fact that I had Rachel as where I was setting up the romance between the two. It led to a genuinely touching moment where Steph says you can talk to her about what it’s like, since she has been open about being gay. Subtle touches like that go a long way.
One thing I wanna mention is the fact that the walking animation is so fucking weird in cutscenes. During gameplay it’s fine, but in cutscenes the walking is just so strange. And the running is even weirder. Do the people who made this just not know how to animated that? So odd.
Overall, it’s a good continuance of the story. Granted, the opening act is painfully slow. But once you get back to the junkyard, things pick up pretty quick. I like this story. With a bombshell having been dropped on Rachel at the end of the episode, I am genuinely eager to see how it plays out.
7 out of 10