Life Is Strange: Episode 3 – Chaos Theory – Review

Title   Life Is Strange: Episode 3 – Chaos Theory
Developer  DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher  Square Enix
Platform  Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Genre  Adventure
Release Date  May 19th, 2015

This review contains heavy spoilers for episodes one and two so stop right now if you haven’t finished them yet. It’ll also be a bit shorter than usual because it’s really hard to say much about this episode without spoiling stuff. You can read my reviews of the previous episodes here and here.

So, how did your episode two end? Did you manage to save Kate or did she leap to her death from the top of the dorm? Doesn’t matter, apparently.

Chaos Theory starts off on a very disappointing note; no matter what happened with Kate you go through a series of almost identical conversations, with lines such as “I can’t believe she jumped” being switched out with “I can’t believe she tried to jump”. Kate doesn’t make an appearance; she’s either dead or in hospital and everyone’s wondering either when the funeral is or when they can go visit her. Essentially the only real difference is that if you saved her everyone treats you like a hero, whereas if you didn’t then they don’t. It’s a real shame that they didn’t take the opportunity to do something more interesting with such a major plot point.

Kate aside, this episode sets a very leisurely pace, with a lot of conversation and not a great deal of action. Max and Chloe set out to find hard evidence about the disappearance of Rachel Amber and why Kate tried to kill herself and decide that the best way to do this is commit a series of minor crimes, safe in the knowledge that Max can rewind her way out of any trouble they get into. This seems somewhat foolish given that Max’s powers literally just gave out at a crucial moment while trying to save Kate – incidentally, while lip-service is paid to this fact on a number of occasions with “I shouldn’t use my powers unless I have to” dialogue, I never saw any consequences from abusing them, which was a bit of a shame.

The story focuses almost entirely on you and Chloe, with other characters pushed way into the background; Warren only shows up via a phonecall and text messages, Victoria has a short cameo, you have a single conversation with Nathan, and even David only shows up for a quick argument and then leaves again. This allows a lot of room for character development and there are some genuinely touching moments as the two of them reminisce about their childhood and try to catch up on everything that happened to each other while they were apart. That said, Chloe still behaves like a petulant child half the time, and even when you make decisions that are perfectly sensible, given the circumstances, she’s still liable to bitch at you because you didn’t “stand up” for her.

The end of the episode is either a huge game-changer or a huge fake-out depending on how the devs resolve it; I’m leaning towards the latter but I’m willing to be surprised. They’re really starting to delve deeper into the side-effects of messing with time and how “fixing” a problem can have serious consequences later down the line. I just hope they stick with it. After my complaints about the previous episodes’ habit of making you stupidly knock things over just so you can rewind and not knock them over, I did appreciate the lampshading of it this time around, hopefully as an acknowledgement that they’d been overusing the mechanic somewhat. As a counterpoint to this, the forced stealth section halfway through can fuck right off.

All in all, Chaos Theory is in a bit of a weird place. On the one had it feels kind of heavy on the exposition and kind of a little fillery, but on the other it develops a number of key plot points, resolves a couple of unanswered questions, and potentially sets up a really interesting episode four. Additionally, the dialogue continues to improve and while it can still be a little shaky in places it’s reached a point where I’m no longer really noticing it; I don’t think Chloe says “hella” all episode.

  • Great character development
  • No more stupid knocking things over "puzzles"
  • Improved writing
  • Potentially great twist at the end
  • Disappointing resolution to episode two
  • A little slow paced

While Chaos Theory can feel a little slow in places it does a really good job of developing the story and exploring the relationship between Max and Chloe. The disappointing follow up to the end of the previous episode is easily countered by the potential created by the end of this one, and now I'm really looking forward to episode four.

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