Hell Is Empty, the final chapter of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is one full of difficult and emotional choices. Placing emphasis on the importance of morality and deception, Hell Is Empty stands out as a story based game in that the choices you make really do matter.
Following on from the shocking twist of episode two, Hell is Empty opens with the player leading Chloe through the revelations revealed by Rachel’s father. It is here that we get a bigger insight into Rachel herself – a look at her room and the posters and keepsakes she displays help to cement the idea that she is a dreamer and always looks for a deeper meaning in everything in her life.
The player is quickly thrown into a whirlwind of drama as Rachel and Chloe begin their attempt at unravelling the mysteries of Arcadia Bay, a storyline that quickly becomes dangerous for two girls on the cusp of adulthood. Amidst family drama and cues of teenagers discovering themselves (Chloe dying her hair, a promise between the two to get tattoos), the girls find themselves facing life or death situations that come awkwardly paced with no room to breathe. With the wealth of relationships and information provided in this episode and its predecessors, Before the Storm would have benefited from a fourth episode.
In an attempt to tie up plot threads from the previous episodes, the player is faced with subplots that feel forced and can be ignored; but when faced with the emotional choices Hell is Empty demands of the player, you may feel grateful for the extra time to play a table-top game with your friends.
Making true of a promise to Rachel, Chloe begins an investigation into the identity of a character introduced in the first episode – an investigation that brings other characters into their own and places Rachel in a hospital bed fighting for her life.
Decisions from the previous episode, paired with Rachel’s all-encompassing need to discover the truth lead to an altercation with Chloe’s dealer, Frank and his boss Damon and begins the unravelling of a thread that brings to light a lifetime of secrets, lies and deceit.
Elliot, a long-term friend of Chloe who fosters a crush for the angsty teen, forces himself into the storyline and Chloe’s immediate future, his creepy stalker arc coming too little too late and without much bravado. Like much in this episode, it’s over before it really has a chance to begin and the player is once more hurtling at breakneck speed to the story’s conclusion.
That being said, Hell is Empty is a beautiful, heart-wrenching game. The story may be fast paced, but the decisions the player makes and the effect they have on the characters, the gameplay, and the feel of the game are not easy to make and do an excellent job at ensuring the hold of Rachel Amber is strong enough to translate to the sequel. Out of all the decisions, only one felt straightforward and at the time of playing only 5% of players had managed to achieve a particular endgame outcome for Rachel. The choices made in this game really do matter, and come rife with consequences.
No matter how you play the game or what decisions you make, there is no real answer – although the game and its writing suggest that some secrets are better left uncovered.