The Life Is Strange prequel, Before the Storm, hits shelves this month. We spoke with Deck Nine Games producer David Hein about what his studio has brought to the LiS franchise.
How do you go about developing a game with so many different plot paths?
David Hein: Very carefully. In all seriousness, it’s a really involved process. Early on we talk mostly high-level concept then do a story break just like your favourite TV show. From there we build a scene structure that contains the branching options. We spend countless hours pouring over the narrative and the script. It’s crucial for us that your decisions are full of consequences and that there’s no easy choice, or right path.
Why did you decide Chloe needed a backstory?
Chloe was a polarising character for many people in the first game. The amazing thing that Before the Storm gets to do is delve into why she is who she is. Before the Storm is ultimately a game about Chloe’s grief and how one person, Rachel, can change everything. Telling a story of loss and recovery was a powerful experience for everyone on the team.
Tell us about the introduction of the BackTalk mechanic.
BackTalk allows us to double down on what makes Life is Strange so awesome: choices and consequences. It adds a whole layer of complexity on top of the branching narrative. Did you choose to BackTalk? What outcome did you have? Those difficult choices set you down different paths with different consequences. BackTalk really raises the stakes with its fast paced banter and wit.
How important is the music to the story and the themes you wish to portray?
I would say crucial. When you think of your favourite moments from games or films, so much of the emotion is driven by the music. It’s absolutely imperative that the dialogue, the narrative themes, cinematography, lighting, and music work in perfect symphony in every second.
Why did development move to Deck Nine rather than Dontnod for the game?
Dontnod is busy creating another entry in the Life is Strange universe. And as fans of the first Life is Strange, we can’t wait to play it. One of the amazing things that Deck Nine has is the StoryForge toolset. This is a twofer of a branching script writing tool and a cinematic tool. These powerful pieces of tech unshackle the creatives from a lot of the mundane work, allowing them to be as creative as possible.
What’s next for the franchise?
I mentioned that Dontnod is working on another Life is Strange game and we’re stoked to play it. We also have our Farewell bonus episode coming out on March 6th alongside the boxed copy of the game. It’s a really special experience that we can’t wait to share with the fans.