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Mojo will remember that: A look at Games that out-TTGs TTG: On Before the Storm and Hidden Agenda

06 Nov, 2017

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm

I had some initial doubts about this Life Is Strange prequel. So much of the original game was centered around Max's emotional/ultra-angsty journey coming to terms with the consequences of traveling back in time, that the Chloe and Rachel backstory seemed somewhat pointless. Luckily, the Deck Nine helmed game (Dontnod developed the original) works surprisingly well, at least two episodes in.

Thumb Chloe is so misunderstood she has to tag out her angst.

If you played the original, you are familiar with Chloe and Rachel's relationship, and if you didn't, I won't spoil too much here. Suffices to say, the girls have a penchant for teenage angst and they want to run off to L.A., because that is what a true 2010 punk does.

Replacing time-traveling is a dialogue system similar to Monkey Island's insult sword fighting. It's basically just a matter of responding "properly" to an opposing character's dialogue lines. Do so enough times (there is an indicator on the bottom of the screen), and you'll get the "proper" response from them. It's simple -- I haven't failed once, yet -- but kind of a fun way to pepper up the gameplay mechanism.

The story works, too, as long as you can deal with reminders of your teenage years. Chloe's story adds some depth to the character, and her interaction with Rachel works well. Other characters, too, receive a similar treatment, and the game serves well as a substantial intermezzo before the proper sequel sees the light of day.

Hidden Agenda

The follow-up (not the sequel) to Until Dawn is, for my aging mind, a bit bizarre. The story itself is interesting enough, all Se7en-y with a creative and demented serial killer and all. Is the killer on death row the actual "Trapper", or is the wrong man convicted? This is where you step in and things veer sideways.

Maybe I just don't get the whole "PlayLink" thing. (Yes, Hidden Agenda is PS4 only.) Here you are supposed to connect and vote on outcomes of certain sequences with a group of other players. That's right. Democratic gameplay. If we've learned anything over the past few years it's that democracy is flawed, and hell if I have any interest in having other people interfere with how I play a video game.

Thumb Swipe that phone!

Luckily there is a regular one-player option, though you wouldn't know solely going by marketing material. This mode, too, is somewhat odd. You do not use the regular PS4 controller, but rather your phone to interact with the game. There is no particular reason why that is a requirement, as the standard controller would have worked just fine, and the controls aren't always responsive, which pretty much kills timed sequences. Furthermore, as I tend to play games at night, my battery often is close to drained.

That's all too bad, as with Until Dawn, the action is fun and directly impacts the game. It all looks good, too, and the acting is exactly what you would want from this kind of grimy story.

Worth checking out, but be ready for some iffy controls.

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