Deck Nine’s Zak Garris Wants to “Shatter Illusions” in Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Deck Nine's Zak Garris

Fans of the Life is Strange franchise were delighted to discover that Don’t Nod’s wildly popular game was getting a prequel. The announcement came at E3 with a cinematic trailer and a second gameplay trailer. While we’re seeing familiar faces in a familiar setting, according to Deck Nine’s Zak Garris there will be many differences to the next installment.

Yeah. So I think you’ll see a lot of puzzles. A lot of gameplay is not just cinematics. Chloe will find herself in all sorts of situations, and from a puzzle standpoint and a gameplay standpoint and a narrative standpoint, these situations feel very right for Chloe.

So the mill is an example. That’s a place Max would never go to. Chloe will fight her way inside. She actually has to fight her way inside, there are a variety of ways she can accomplish that. The gameplay can accommodate success or failure in different paths. But they’re fitting to her because the environment is reflective of her personality and the consequences and the nature of those puzzles, without spoiling the gameplay features … Will really map on to Chloe’s kind of, more aggressive, more in your face, approach to things. She’s more of a wrecking ball than Max was.”

Deck Nine’s Zak Garris opened up about the game in a recent interview at E3. The lead writer had a lot to say on the changes and the themes behind Before the Storm. While some may have enjoyed the private mystery surrounding Chloe and Rachel, this game delves into that story and into what makes them human.

Deck Nine's Zak Garris

Obviously absent in the coming prequel are the supernatural abilities wielded by the original protagonist Max Caufield. In its stead, the developer is promising a game that will focus more squarely on Chloe’s mindset when she was 16, just as she and Rachel were becoming friends. This puts players in the position to make choices that stick this time around, and it has a very Chloe feel. Here’s what Deck Nine’s Zak Garris had to say about it:

Yeah, I’ll say we stripped away the power from the player character. That we definitely did. The supernatural does live in our Arcadia Bay. We have a lot of surreality to the world, a very Twin Peaks style of normalcy, masking strangeness, right? And we think that was core to the first experience and we’ve really embraced that. But yeah, choosing not to have a power Max has, the rewind, it felt like it was really fitting for Max. But for Chloe, it’s a different story, it’s about a different part in a person’s life. Different lessons that she’s learning for her personality and for what we’re examining. We felt like having to really double down on the discomfort about, “You’re gonna make a choice and you’re just gonna have to live with the consequences of that.” That felt really right for Chloe.

The writer was candid about his feelings when undertaking the task of breathing life into Before the Storm. He commended the game’s courage in facing real problems faced by regular people. Garris went on to call the effect it has had on fans as “sacred”, showing a great deal of respect for what the game has created being a fan himself.

Deck Nine’s Zak Garris admitted to being nervous about the challenge of bringing to life a story that comes with certain expectations and a throng of fans to impress. Ultimately the aim was to bring back the vivid life of those beloved characters fans had come to identify with and grow attachments to. Citing fan passion, Garris noted that Square Enix focus is on meeting that passion and bringing something new to fans that they will love just as much.

Deck Nine's Zak Garris

Before the Storm very much focuses on Chloe’s frame of mind after her father’s death. She is obviously broken, sad, and lonely. Fans are getting a peek behind the curtain to understand what lies behind both Chloe and Rachel as friends and as people. Coming from the writer, the story is taking a deeply human approach to the game and showing how sometimes our first impressions of people can be mistaken.

Our Chloe is a lot more vulnerable than the Chloe from the first game. She’s younger, she’s 16. She’s closer to the detonation, after her father’s death blew apart her life, right? She’s alienated, she’s all alone. And we’re examining what it’s like when Rachel shows up in Chloe’s life like a comet. We’re looking at these two people who are seemingly opposite, with Chloe being at the bottom of the Blackwell social ladder, really kind of adrift, really lost. Rachel being the top, loved by everyone. This mythic character from the first game. And we’re actually kind of shattering that illusion and we’re exploring how, oh yeah, the girl who looks like she has all her life together? No no, she’s broken too. And the girl who’s absolutely obviously broken, no no, she’s strong. And there is unique ways in which both girls kind of desperately need each other in this particular moment in their lives. And in that way, we’re really excited to just be exploring this universal aspect of human connection. How everyone, I think at a certain moment in time in their life might have that one person who just kind of walks in and kind of changes their world.”

According to Deck Nine’s Zak Garris, the choices made in the game will ultimately affect whether or not other characters are perceived as good or bad. He notes, however, that this game will more peer at the gray space of being human and vulnerable. While some characters may seem problematic, there may not be as purely evil like Mr. Jefferson. Before the Storm seeks to look at how messy the good and bad of people can be.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm debuts its first episode August 31st. Fans can pre-order the game now with an 8% discount on the Deluxe Edition bundle. The game will feature three episodes expected to offer 6-9 hours of content. Be sure to keep up with DFTG for all your Before the Storm updates!

With the level of vulnerability, will this new side of Chloe change how the character is viewed in the original game? Join in on the conversation in the comment section below! Don’t forget to follow DFTG on Twitter for live gaming and entertainment news 24/7!

Charles Douglas734 Posts

Deep in the mountains of the south west lives a man who writes game editorials, makes YouTube Videos, and is an overall mega nerd. An avid believer in Unicorns, and your new all star line backer, Number 34, CHARLES DOUGLAAAAAAASSSS!!!!

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