Crappy Voice Acting Undercuts an Otherwise Strong 'Life Is Strange' Prequel


#1

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, a prequel series to the unexpectedly brilliant episodic drama, shouldn’t have worked, but it does. The relationship between Chloe Price and Rachel Amber is genuine, pure, and most of all, believable. This is despite notable turbulence behind-the-scenes, which resulted in the game’s production relying on voice actors who were willing to record lines during an active voice actors strike.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/yw55zx/crappy-voice-acting-undercuts-an-otherwise-strong-life-is-strange-prequel

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Discussion
#2

Overall I liked Before the Storm. Episode 2 hit pretty hard and felt the most put together. (The Tempest? Oof.)

But the whole series, from the voice acting to the dialogue to the technical execution, felt rushed. Episode three felt like it was released before it was finished. I played it the day after release and it was full of odd scripting issues and graphical glitches, like this (non-spoiler) one:

It’s possible it’s been patched since then, but the whole thing felt like it needed another pass to polish it up. Still worth putting up with for more Life is Strange, though.


#3

Even with the original voice actors, BtS would still have an incredibly shitty and exploitative post credits stinger that would undercut the game anyways.


#4

Same bug as I got, possibly extremely widespread but I’m not sure if they’ve had time to patch it due to the holidays.

It’s interesting that the voice work for the last game was also heavily criticised (while using SAG talent) which somewhat blunts any linking of the performances here and which unions the talent was associated with. In terms of labour rights, this Japanese company taking an IP developed in France and moving development to the US* adds serious questions about worker conditions all round. Previously, we knew all workers had proper maternity leave, 35 days of paid holiday, and so on while this game was developed without any of those legal protections and mandatory rights being guaranteed.

* (even if the VO work was outsourced to an area of low worker rights even in the first game)


#5

I know it missies the point of the article a bit, but part of me misses the days before fully voiced games.

  1. A particularly poor bit of voice acting can really spoil a game that would otherwise be fine. BtS sounds like a candidate for this issue.
  2. Sometimes I just don’t think the voice suits the character, or I don’t think the line should be read that way, particularly when the character is supposed to be “me”.
  3. I can read a heck of a lot faster than voice actors can talk. I often throw subtitles on and skip dialog, either because I’ve heard it before, or it’s just not important enough of a moment to listen to in its entirety.

On the other hand:

  1. Really bad voice acting is sometimes a pretty good lol factor.
  2. Really good voice acting can really elevate an experience. For example: I’m listening to what should be a mediocre audiobook right now, but the voice actor is so good, I look forward to it every day.

More on topic:

We also can’t entirely blame the Voice Actors for poor voice acting. Most of them would deliver the line pretty well, if they had any idea of the actual context of the line. That’s not always or even often the case.

(edit: missing words)


#6

Of all the imaginable reasons why strikebreaking is wrong, “it delivers a low quality product” is certainly one that Waypoint chose to run an article about.


#7

My hunch is something more owing to contractual obligations. Deck Nine probably had to get it all out in calendar year 2017 in order to fulfill their contract with Square Enix and Dontnod.


#8

This article made my register for these forums.

I have a couple of problems with it as a non union voice actor.

  1. BtS has a different director than LiS and a director is the most important part of a voice project. A director that was willing to go along with the decision to rush this project through without the original cast is just as much to blame as any talent hired to replace them.

  2. Please stop calling us scabs. SAG/AFTRA is very difficult to get into. You have to work on a number of SAG/AFTRA projects before they will let you join the union, while SAG/AFTRA is doing their best to discourage producers from hiring non union actors for those projects. It’s the reason you only see a new movie actor every half a decade. Somehow they slipped through SAG/AFTRA’s defenses.

  3. Love you, Patrick. Thanks for the challenging read. I hope this was constructive.

P.S. I am pro union in nearly every other situation. I even think SAG/AFTRA is probably ultimately a good thing. It’s just frustrating when I see these new actors getting a shot they would otherwise have to climb massive hurdles to even take getting shit on because they don’t have a card.


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#9

With regards to number two, you don’t have to be part of a union to not cross the picket line, this wasn’t even an industry-wide strike, it was several select companies. I know it’s never as simple as refusing to take scab work and instead easily finding employment elsewhere, but it’s still scab work, and it’s still hurting the union actors.


#10

You’re right, I totally forgot this was more of a precision strike (heh). I was pretty salty when I wrote the post and now I’m only lightly salted. I saw the word “scab” and it flipped a switch. People I talk to regularly have been using it differently than how I now realize Patrick did.


#11

If you don’t mind a couple of questions (feel free to ignore if you’d rather not answer):

Are there any other unions (outside of SAG/AFTRA) you could join that cover your local area and could support your rights (with an understanding of the work) or is this a case of either joining the big union or being unable to get any other collective representation (possibly that better aligns for ease of entry, dues structure, or even just what they fight for as your representative - I know when I’ve had a choice between different unions representing me they were very clear about what they offered)?

If SAG/AFTRA didn’t work to lock non-members out of work/gigs (either via pressuring those who do the hiring or establishing contracts with some employers that requires them to not hire non-SAG staff), would it change your view of this (would you be more inclined to support the call for non-SAG workers to declined work on projects affected by any ongoing strike due to solidarity)?


#12

I’d love to answer these to the best of my abilities. I’m no scholar, and can only speak to my own personal career.

There used to be, in fact I’m sure there still are, but in 2012 SAG merged with AFTRA and became sort of a super union that claims jurisdiction over the entire entertainment industry. Other entertainment unions almost certainly exist, but SAG/AFTRA is a VERY big dog.

ABSOLUTELY! And in fact, from what I understand, there’s nothing ACTUALLY stopping a casting director from choosing a non union actor for a union project aside from professional pressure. It’s really down to whether they want to have that argument with a union representative, or just go with a big name no one will fight them about.

If that pressure disappears so do all of my hang-ups. I’ve just always thought a union should stand up for people that are easily taken advantage of. They’ve done that in this case with the strike, but for those of us who aren’t part of 160,000 member SAG/AFTRA, they’ve really done nothing at all except promise to blacklist us if we broke the picket line. This is America and media is our export. There are far more than 160,000 performers in our 300,000,000 plus population. It’s hard for me to look at SAG/AFTRA as doing anything other than trying to stop this rapidly growing market from escaping their submission hold.


#13

I can’t even begin to describe how blatantly incorrect this point is. There’s 100k+ people in SAG, its existence has nothing to do with the industry’s relying on a small talent pool.

I mean I’d even argue that the main premise of this point isn’t true to begin with.


#14

Awesome. Let’s discuss it. Telling me you can’t even begin to tell me is the same as saying nothing at all.


#15

Thank you for your replies! As someone trying to get into voice acting, your insights into SAG/AFTRA are appreciated. Unfortunately, this article reads like an review that’s only barely interested in discussing the strike, but still uses it to reach a faulty conclusion about nonunion actors and their ability to perform. As was mentioned in a few replies, there are a lot of reasons for the acting in Before the Storm (and other games) to be poor, so it’s disappointing that the conclusion Patrick reaches is “because they’re ‘scabs’.”