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Life is Strange: Before the Storm is now officially available on Linux

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm, the three-part prequel to the original Life is Strange ported to Linux by Feral Interactive is now available. After very much enjoying the first game, I had been eagerly awaiting this one to come out.

While the original was made by DONTNOD Entertainment, this time around it was developed by Deck Nine and published by Square Enix.

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About the game:

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a new three part; standalone adventure set three years before the first game in the BAFTA award-winning franchise.

You play as sixteen-year old Chloe Price who forms an unlikely friendship with Rachel Amber, a beautiful and popular girl destined for success.

When Rachel learns a secret about her family that threatens to destroy her world, it is her newfound friendship with Chloe that gives her the strength to carry on.

No longer alone the girls must confront each other's demons and together, find a way to overcome them.

The Linux release also has the bonus episode, "Farewell", which is included in the Deluxe Edition. This bonus episode follows Max (from the original) and Chloe’s childhood friendship.

Minimum System Requirements - As a reminder, this latest port uses OpenGL and not Vulkan:

  • OS: Ubuntu 18.04
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-4130T @ 2.90GHz
  • GPU: 2GB Nvidia GTX 680 or 2GB AMD R9 270 or better
  • System RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 28GB

AMD GPUs require Mesa driver 18.1.6 at least and NVIDIA GPUs require driver at least 396.54. They said that Intel GPUs are not supported.

Much like the original, it's choice driven and your choices will affect the story in a few ways including giving you a different ending. The soundtrack in the original really was great and helped the experience so knowing BtS has another great soundtrack had me excited.

There's no time manipulation mechanic here though, instead you get a "Backtalk" feature, with a risk/reward conversation mode. Your outfit will also change how people react to you too, according to the feature list.

Like all recent Feral ports, it includes their handy launcher customised to fit in with the theme of the game which is always a really nice touch. Although, this is the first time it hasn't include an option to pick you monitor. With it being a Unity game, their launcher probably isn't compatible with how Unity handles that.

As expected from Feral, the Linux port is excellent in terms of quality. Testing on Ubuntu 18.04 with my Intel i7-5960X paired with an NVIDIA 980ti, with the settings cranked up to "Hella High" (maximum) to hear my GPU purr and it's smoother than silk. High frame rates, no stutter—exactly what we want in a Linux port and it shows how Feral's effort has truly paid off for this one.

Seriously, through all of the episodes the performance has been absolutely outstanding. We couldn't really ask for any better here, I've not had a single problem with it.

It's certainly a bit weird with it being a prequel, since we know what comes after but exploring who Chloe is and how things got that way is actually quite interesting. I'm already a pretty big fan of the dialogue system, getting to insult everyone is quite amusing.

The new voice actor actually does a really great job, it's always hard to fill empty shoes but Rhianna DeVries actually did a fantastic job at keeping the same Chloe attitude that we know and love.

If you enjoyed the original Life is Strange, this will very much be your thing. Since it's so similar in many ways with the presentation and the atmosphere although it does feel quite different overall. It's a bit of an emotional roller coaster that's for sure and it does a good job at expanding a lot of the background details many were curious about from the original.

Since it's built in the Unity game engine, some may wonder why it was ported by Feral externally and not just done by Deck Nine and Square Enix directly. The key thing to remember, is that Unity is not a simple push of a button for larger games. This is especially true when you take into account middle-ware that doesn't support Linux or has major issues on Linux, Unity engine specific issues, ongoing support costs and so on. So, it's the same as all Feral Interactive ports as they handle it all for them and do a good job of it making Linux gamers happy.

For those who prefer to watch such games and get into the spirit of things with the larger community, we will have a livestream of it tonight, so be sure to follow us on Twitch.

You can pick up a copy of Life is Strange: Before the Storm right now from the Humble Store, Feral Store or Steam.

With Life is Strange 2 due out for Windows in September, let's hope Feral Interactive will continue the series on Linux if this sells well enough for them. They're definitely going to need to work on the delay from Windows release to Linux port though, considering the last episode of Before the Storm released back in December last year.

Feral have ported well over 20 major titles to Linux now, so it's really great to see even more. When we spoke to them for our thoughts on Valve's Steam Play, they clearly said their future plans haven't changed. They've already released Rise of the Tomb Raider and Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia this year along with Total War: WARHAMMER II still to come as well as another teaser.

26 Likes, Who?
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jens 13 September 2018 at 9:53 pm UTC
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mmh, aspect ratio seems to be fixed to 16:9, or at least I haven't found a way to change it to anything different. Not really cool to have black bars when having a resolution of 3440x1440 with 21:9...

Edit: Just checked the first LiS, that one plays nicely in 21:9.
Edit2: This seems also an issue with the windows version, thus not related to Feral's work. One could argue that this is on purpose to keep certain images fixed since this is more a movie than a game, but not sure...

Last edited by jens at 14 September 2018 at 6:45 am UTC
tonR 13 September 2018 at 11:44 pm UTC
Waiting for my paycheck....
Comandante Ñoñardo 14 September 2018 at 12:14 am UTC
Liam DaweAs expected from Feral, the Linux port is excellent in terms of quality. Testing on Ubuntu 18.04 with my Intel i7-5960X paired with an NVIDIA 980ti,

It will be interesting to see performance reports with more modest hardware...specially compared against the hardware of the Windows version.
rkfg 14 September 2018 at 1:21 am UTC
toorBut I don't really understand the effort that was put into it. Isn't Unity supposed to be kind of a one-push-button-port from the first place? Are there a lot of windows specific third parties in this game?

That's also my question. Unity game ported by Feral!?
Oviously the result must be a win as it is but why?

Thanks anyway Feral!
So I did a little research on the other Feral ports. It's as simple as running

strings LifeIsStrange | grep -i feral | less
strings LifeIsStrange | grep -i idx | less

on the first game (Life is Strange). Initially, I did just 'strings' to see anything interesting and found that 'feral' is indeed the watermark in their ports. Mentioned in some window, networking and input related functions like 16CFeralNetManager, 26CFeralGameWindowController, 19CLinuxFeralRawInput etc. Also, there's Mac OS path for the source files it seems, weird: /Volumes/BobSource/lifeisstrange/Companies/Feral/Development/Products/LifeIsStrange/Source/Src/D3D9Drv/Src/D3D9Commands.cpp

Idx comes from their IndirectX wrapper or rather, API implementation, referenced in the functions like 13IdxDXGIDevice, 21IdxD3D11ComputeShader and so on (the number is the string length, the common mangling for C++ method names but not quite the same I see with G++). So if these two traits are present in the binary, most likely Feral used their standard method of porting. I checked this on LiS and Dawn of War 2 at least.

All that said, LiS:BTS doesn't contain any of these strings so it must be a "native" Unity port, i.e. without porting the engine itself. It's logical, of course, if the engine already supports the platform but still one can have doubts. However, there are some interesting libraries in the game's directory like (not enough bits in the depth buffer that caused artifacts I guess? That's an interesting way to fix it) and a patch for libSDL in sdl_override/patch.

The game itself works absolutely flawless, smooth, fast, looks great. I completed the first episode on my big TV screen with the Steam Controller, loved it! The developers definitely took all we loved in the first game and carefully built a new game on top of that. The facial animations became much better! I'm used to quite exaggerated emotions and "wooden" (tired, uhuh) faces in games when they are animated by hand, i.e. not captured from actors, but here's something new: they made pretty subtle and life-like expressions. And not like in Disney/Pixar cartoons (good, smooth, detailed but not realistic) but like they should be in real life. Not for every character, not everywhere, but when they do, it shows.
bingus 14 September 2018 at 4:26 am UTC
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[quote=Comandante Ñoñardo]
QuoteAnd I WANT The Amazing Adventures of Captain Spirit (that is unplayable on Steamplay due to Denuvo.. but a report said that it works with the Steam client in offline mode)

Why does it have Denuvo if its a free download...?

Anywho, looking forward to playing BTS.
Cyber 14 September 2018 at 2:06 pm UTC
Thank you Feral!! Instabuy. Looks great, and runs like a charm!
mirv 14 September 2018 at 2:40 pm UTC
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toorBut I don't really understand the effort that was put into it. Isn't Unity supposed to be kind of a one-push-button-port from the first place? Are there a lot of windows specific third parties in this game?

That's also my question. Unity game ported by Feral!?
Oviously the result must be a win as it is but why?

Thanks anyway Feral!

Feral can do more than port custom engine code. They have experience with a few platforms now, and so can probably deal with a few issues (path names, texture formats, 3rd party libraries, distro-specific or window manager specific problems, etc) much easier than getting an internal team up to speed. Basically, even if it's a Unity3D based game, it can still be cheaper and of better quality to get an external team to do the port, especially if it's being done late in the game's development.
Which is encouraging really.
mirv 14 September 2018 at 2:41 pm UTC
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DrMcCoyWhelp, no sound without PulseAudio, it seems

apulse? I know it's not an optimal solution though, and doesn't always work. And shouldn't be needed in the first place.
Kimyrielle 14 September 2018 at 3:47 pm UTC
Playing this game will be indeed a somewhat strange experience, since everyone who played the original LiS already knows what will eventually happen to both protagonists. Honestly, I still want to throw rotten tomatoes at the person who wrote the LiS 1 ending. But I will still buy and play this game, I guess. Save for that super-stupid, super-not-satisfying and super-foreseeable ending, I consider LiS one of the best five adventure games ever made.

I agree with the point about excessive delay between Windows and Linux versions probably hurting Feral's business. Linux users want to play games when they are still new too, you know? I had at least a half dozen Feral ports popping up in my Linux library I already had for Windows, so Feral never saw a dime from these, sadly. This game is an exception. I didn't get it yet, for I was still mad at DotNod for above-mentioned stupid ending.
jens 14 September 2018 at 4:45 pm UTC
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Having played half an hour, the dialog system gave me a "The secret of Monkey Island" deja vu

Last edited by jens at 14 September 2018 at 4:57 pm UTC
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