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Life is Strange’s worst catchphrase has a beautiful backstory

It’s hella cute, y’all

Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Chloe and Rachel Deck Nine Games/Square Enix

Life is Strange got a lot of flack for its script, which was peppered with some grating teen slang. The worst of it? “Hella,” a word heard mostly out of the mouths of Bay Area punks in the 1990s.

But in Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a prequel series whose first episode is out now, one perfect moment dismisses all of those complaints about the annoying overuse of “hella.”

(Now, here’s your spoiler warning for Episode One of Before the Storm, just in case.)

The heart of Before the Storm’s story is the friendship between angsty Chloe Price, our protagonist, and mysterious popular girl Rachel Amber. The pair are similarly sick of it all: of their families, of expectations, of the torture that is teen life. The two kindred spirits become fast friends, and their growing feelings for each other drive Episode One’s back half.

One revealing moment finds Chloe and Rachel playing “two truths and a lie,” a game that teaches us a lot about Rachel in just a little time. Her lie? That she’s from New York — she’s actually from California, homeland of the “hella.”

“You’re hella mysterious, Chloe Price,” Rachel says at the end of the game.

“Hella?” asks Chloe. “Who says that?”

“It’s a Cali thing.”

And there it is, the origins of Chloe’s excessive use of “hella.” Chloe’s love for Rachel is a major part of Before the Storm, so it makes sense that she adopts that affectation. What makes it more touching — and heartbreaking — is that in between Before the Storm and the original Life is Strange, Rachel goes missing and is gone from Chloe’s life for good.

Chloe’s “hella,” it turns out, is an ode to an old friend, whose disappearance drives much of the original Life is Strange. With that in mind and in hindsight, I feel so much worse for ever making fun of Chloe’s awkward slang.

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