Developer: Deck Nine Games – Publisher – Square Enix – Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC – Release Date: October 19, 2017
What’s The Story?
With Awake’s dull narrative retreads out of the way, Brave New World focuses its full attention on developing Chloe and Rachel’s increasingly captivating and moving relationship. Their interactions are a joy to watch, such as a touching segment during the Blackwell’s performance of The Tempest. I find myself rooting for the girls to escape their tumultuous situations despite knowing full well how that pans out. Unfortunately, dreams are rarely achieved that easily in Arcadia Bay, a point Brave New World hammers home hard.
The drama surrounding Rachel’s family takes a surprising turn that pays off with an even crazier revelation. Besides just being a good, suspenseful story, I’m captivated because it’s a welcomed unknown element for the series. Rachel’s family was hardly touched on in the original game, so I love having some unpredictability in a premise that initially appeared somewhat self-explanatory. Disappointingly, however, the question surrounding the previous episode’s final scene (i.e. how did Rachel do that?) goes strangely unaddressed here.
Chloe comes off as far more endearing this time around, which improves the experience substantially. Brave New World presents more situations that allow her to, at the very least, attempt to do genuine good–even if it typically makes things worse. And that’s fine, because it generates sympathy for her beyond the whole deceased father angle. My favorite example of this involves her (possibly) trying to protect other students from a menacing drug dealer. I like seeing the cracks in Chloe’s jerky veneer because it makes her feel more undeserving of the rotten cards life keeps dealing her .
Other plot lines, like the mysterious woman connected to Rachel and Frank’s insane criminal friend, receive some needed elaboration. While the former thread plays smoothly into the main story, I’m mixed on latter. The drug dealer angle feels like an attempt at establishing a clear, objective villain. I don’t think you need that in a story where the complex misfortunes of life offer sufficient obstacles. While it’s not a bad story, at this point it feels like it exists instead of enhancing anything.
How Does It Sound?
I’ve gotten used to Chloe’s new performance and I’m loving Rachel’s. I wish I could say the same for certain others, chiefly an unconvincing and tension-robbing performance from Drew during a pivotal scene.
How Fun Is It?
Choices feel bigger and occur more frequently. Combine that with more precarious situations and Brave New World is an consistent attention-grabber. The Backtalk mechanic in practice still doesn’t do much for me, but at least their weightier consequences make it more meaningful. For example, Chloe convincing Frank to divulge crucial information about a key character. Beyond the usual interactions and some so-so puzzle-solving, the aforementioned theater scene stands out as it actually calls for actual memorization in a neat change of pace.
Brave New World offers a captivating middle chapter by building upon what worked best in Awake and planting fascinating narrative hooks for the finale. A larger offering of impactful choices make for an engaging couple of hours that left me feeling better about Before the Storm as a whole. Mainly, I’m a little bummed we won’t be hanging with Chloe and Rachel for much longer.