Life Is Strange (Before The Storm): Episode 3 “Hell Is Empty” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Title Card
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Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Title Card

The final episode of Before The Storm doesn’t connect us to Rachel’s end, but does give us the high point of her relationship with Chloe and shows why the few weeks changed her life.


Previous Recap: Life Is Strange: Episode 2 “Brave New World”

Production Company
Deck Nine
Play length
3 Hours and 6 Minutes

 


The Search For Sera Begins

As you could perhaps imagine, after James’ reveal comes the need to find Sera. She is the missing piece, the reason why Rachel is this extroverted young woman – she is like her mom. Yet, drugs and other things, the mom she wants is but a person who feels underserving of said title. But, there is still this need to meet her.

It’s Better This Way

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Sera

Something that James doesn’t at all make easy. With him witnessing, post-Rachel’s birth, Sera choosing drugs over her, he has long keep her from seeing her kid. He has even paid Sera $3,000 a month, no strings attached, just so she would stay away. However, she doesn’t want to anymore and wants to see her kid. She even brings a lawyer into this and that is when James gets desperate.

He brings Damon, Frank’s aggressive dealing friend, into his personal affairs and he kidnaps Sera. Then, to make matters worse, as you seek out where Sera is from Frank, he brings Damon along. Someone who isn’t fond of two kids in his business, and when he learns Rachel is James’ daughter? Oh, he ends up cutting Rachel at a particular point where he just misses her Brachial artery.

Thus leaving you alone to find Sera and after digging through James’ office, learning about him working with Damon to kidnap and scare Sera off, you face him. Leading to Frank saving your ass and you being left with Sera. Someone who gets drugged by Damon and is a bit down and out because of all this.

What Is Better – The Truth or a Lie?

Leaving you with the decision of how to not only convince Sera to stay but deciding whether Rachel deserves to know the truth or not. Her relationship with her father is already rocky but will you effectively end it in one swoop? For, depending on your decision, you may present Rachel with perhaps one of the few things she perhaps always wished for. Especially since there is no option that will ultimately change her fate. One we’re reminded of as the episode ends.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Rachel was 15 when she died and the girls are in the 10th grade.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Rachel's Phone

  1. Rose and James were married for 13 years and Rachel is 15, so brings the question of when did James give up on Sera?
  2. Why didn’t Rachel’s mom not do more when David grabbed her rather aggressively? Granted, I chose the options which pissed David off each time, but I never got violent with him.
  3. How exactly did Rachel end up in the situation which led to her death again? Was that covered in the original season? I feel like the gap between Chloe and Rachel being happy and lovey-dovey to her disappearing should have been touched on more. But I think I feel that way since I was expecting this to lead right up to when the first season started.

Collected Quote(s)

“[…] maybe there’s a reason we pretend? Maybe the lies we tell each other are less horrible than the truths we keep hidden.”

“Similar to my class schedule, [they] and I have history but no chemistry or drama.”

Highlights

You Can’t Always Get Your Way

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Chloe and Sera

While you can get the ideal ending of Rachel and Sera meeting, a part of me feels that not getting that ending is almost the point of this prequel. For a lot of people, it is just understanding the hole Max left and seeing how Rachel filled it up, but it is also just getting to experience what it means to be a teenager again. To not be someone with magical powers but just observation skills, some common sense, but usually not with a huge amount of autonomy.

Thus making it so, you can’t unfortunately rewind things and choose the better option. You’re not able to see a different path, without basically starting over, and you have to come to terms there isn’t really anything that’s perfect. All you can do is make the best decision you can at the time and deal with the consequences.

Which speaks volumes for this episode because one of the main decisions you are trying to deal with are the ones Sera and James made in regards to Rachel. Sera, like Rachel, was extroverted and outgoing but got consumed and mid-key, James aided in that. I mean, think about it, you know the mother of your child is an addict and yet you are paying her $3,000 a month with no strings attached? It almost sounds like you are doing more than trying to keep her quiet but have her kill herself.

Yet, on the other hand, while James doesn’t have the moral high ground, neither does Sera. She took the money. Sera is the one who decided getting high was more important than her daughter, and is only now, 15 years later, trying to come into Rachel’s life. Meanwhile, you’re stuck in the middle trying to play who is right, wrong, can justify their actions, and maybe trying to figure out a way for a happy ending.

But, in the end, no matter what you do, the love story ends. Rachel and you don’t get to run away together. She can meet her mom, maybe reconcile with her dad, but Before the Storm was never about you saving Rachel. It was just about learning how Chloe healed the pains of losing her father before Max came back. Much less, us getting to understand how Max’s absence affected Chloe and casting Max is perhaps not the most positive light.

You Still Haunt Me

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Chloe and Dad

While there is much to do about Rachel and her parents, Chloe’s dad continues to haunt us and while he doesn’t get involved in matters dealing with David, his advice and how he helps Chloe relate to multiple people in Rachel’s situation helps redirect the spotlight to our heroine.

The Complications of Addiction

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - James

You have to admire that as much as James may have tried to make Sera out to be some kind of villain, she wasn’t utterly stripped of her humanity. She got pregnant young and with her being extroverted and James a bore, maybe even controlling, as seen by his relationship with Rose, she fell in with the wrong crowd. In many ways, the Rachel we know was on the path to becoming Sera and when you really think about that, it makes you realize how complicated addiction is.

At one time, this person was like everyone else but then life hit them. It hit them hard, fast, and unless the right people or some safety net exists, there is the temptation to find ways to survive the best you can. Thus sending you in a downward spiral where even the best of intentions, which James claims to have had, isn’t strong enough grip to pull you away from your troubles.

But with Sera, we saw it was possible. Took a long ass time, but it is possible and we got to interact with her. Which is what makes all these episodic games so intriguing. Like television shows, they take but an hour or so of your time but you get to explore not just the locations, but the minds of these people. Why did you do this, why don’t you do that, and while you can’t always bring them to your point of view, it is nice to say you at least got the opportunity to try.

Overall: Positive (Buy)

Life Is Strange (Before The Storm) Episode 3 Hell Is Empty - Rose

Especially in terms of what Before the Storm offers us. For whether you are someone who can relate to these people or not, while you must give props to TellTale Games for really making this storytelling format big in the modern age, arguably what they have since lost DONTNOD and Deck Nine have found and expanded on. Thus really crafting an emotional and frustrating, in a good way, experience. One which shows one of the few ways DLC benefits modern gamers and doesn’t just extend the contract of designers for another few weeks or months. All the while slicing up what can already be seen as expensive and keeping the price and requesting $10+ more dollars to get all the bells and whistles.

But I digress, the reason you should buy Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is because the series remembers what video games are for: To be played, felt, and experienced. Not watched as you can see every last pore and have some overly complicated gameplay mechanics. What you are presented with is enough of a challenge to force you to use your brain, but not so much you are left wanting to rage quit. Also, while about three hours long, they are three hours well spent and depending on your lifestyle, could be the most stimulating, emotionally and/or mentally, three hours you have experienced in a long time.

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About Amari Sali 3103 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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