Video Game Review: Life is Strange, Episode 3
Chaos Theory brings lateral thinking to solving lockpicking puzzles.
Please note that since each episode of Life is Strange features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Chrysalis.
Life is Strange’s second episode ended with a literal life-and-death situation. Based on Dontnod’s percentages, it looks like most players wound up with the positive outcome. However it played out for you, the result echoes through much of the third episode, Chaos Theory. At the same time, most of the episode focuses almost exclusively on the Max–Chloe relationship, for better or worse.
Unlike the previous two episodes, Chaos Theory doesn’t leave you meandering the Blackwell dorms for a good hour or so. Instead, the conflict is immediate, and minus a few optional bits, you’re pushed into the main overarching story quickly. This is a plus, since parts of Life is Strange have felt a bit too nonchalant at times.
Chloe is by your side almost the entire way, which means more and more of her clunky forced dialogue. There is a payoff for this, but the game’s script writers still should have pulled back in order to make her (and Nathan) sound less like a stereotype.
Puzzles now require a bit of lateral thinking, which is a great way to exploit Max’s rewind powers outside of simply exploring dialogue trees. The game still has fetch quests, but there’s a bigger payoff by integrating rewind abilities into them thanks to Max’s evolving powers. There’s also an awkward stealth sequence that can be completed without a lot of stealth. We give Dontnod marks for trying to add variety into the gameplay, but it could have been thought out better, particularly with the unique mechanic of rewinding time.
The episode all leads to a huge twist at the end, and the consequences of that are explored very briefly before leading to the cliffhanger ending. As a whole, Chaos Theory comes off as a more cohesive episode than its predecessor and the setup for the concluding two episodes is juicy enough that the wait time will leave you wanting to fast-forward.
Chaos Theory is a welcome addition to Life is Strange. By presenting a more focused episode while exploring gameplay possibilities, it overcomes the series’ consistent faults and concludes with a twist that sets the stage for the final two episodes.