Life is Strange Before the Storm Episode 3: Hell is Empty – Review (PS4)
Hell is Empty is a beautiful conclusion to a prequel that exceeded all expectations.
Like anything that ends on a good cliffhanger, Hell is Empty picks up minutes after Brave New World. If you haven’t read our reviews of the previous episodes, we recommend you do that for episode 1 and episode 2.
In this episode, Chloe and Rachel will be tested in every way imaginable. The one thing in life that is constant as we grow older is that everything will change. Rachel finds out that things are not as they seemed and she finds herself questioning everything. She feels like her entire life to this point could have been a lie. Was any of it ever real? Luckily Chloe is there to help her through the tough times.
The duo goes on an adventure that eventually leads to most of the main characters from the game conveniently congregating at a central location. Through the course of the final act Chloe has a good conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Amber and we get one last game in with Steph and Mikey. This time, even Drew is there to join the fun. This motley crew has grown to really care for each other in only a few short days, and it shows. After spending time with these friends and family, Chloe goes to see Rachel. Rachel sends her on one last journey, although this one she must go alone. Once we leave Rachel to go it alone, Chloe will have one last interaction with Eliot and, as mentioned in our earlier review, his noticeable infatuation could only lead to a dark place – one that we witness here in full force.
The last chapter leads her on a personal journey that will make her final decision in the game the hardest. Tell Rachel the truth and ultimately cause her more permanent pain, or lie to her which will cause temporary pain yet save her from the life long agony that comes with the truth. While this final decision may not have the macro repercussions that the original game’s ending came with, the micro impact hits almost as hard.
After making your final decision and completing the game we are left with a final montage of events that take place between the two games leading up to Max’s return to Arcadia Bay. Prepare for a roller coaster of emotions here for anyone familiar with the original Life is Strange. Knowing where it all leads makes it that much more satisfying and heartbreaking all at the same time.
As far as actual gameplay, Hell is Empty probably has the least of the three episodes. That in no way takes away from the experience since the game has always been about the characters and the stories they tell, but we would have loved to have seen exploration and backtalk utilized more. Backtalk here was less about being rebellious to authority and more about convincing friends of various things. Chloe uses this in much less aggressive ways than she had previously and it really fells like this is a conscious decision made due to her character growth. We are seeing the best version of Chloe since the passing of her father and it shows.
Hell is Empty is a beautiful conclusion to a prequel that exceeded all expectations. Deck Nine was tasked with showing us a world that we already knew existed and giving us a peak at events that we could have only imagined prior to this. They accomplished this with such love and care that is rarely seen in this day and age. We can’t wait to see what other stories this studio will be telling in the near future whether they take place in Arcadia Bay or not and we look forward to seeing where the Life is Strange saga goes next as well.
Author: Phil Neyman
Philip is better at buying video games than he is at playing them. He was once told “it must suck to love something so much and be so terrible at it.” As a boy he would write terrible poems about himself and Ross Perot. He enjoys the best and worst of all forms of media, but nothing in the middle. Puyo Puyo Tetris has almost caused unreconcilable differences between him and his wife. He’s never had a hangover, but not from lack of trying.