Life is Strange: Episode 3 - Chaos Theory (PC) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 23 May 2015 / 3,935 Views
WARNING: The following review contains major spoilers for Life is Strange Episodes 1 & 2, and more minor spoilers for Episode 3. If you have yet to play the game but do intend to do so in the future, you should probably avoid reading this review.
As I played Chaos Theory I couldn’t help but be reminded of the 2004 film The Butterfly Effect. In the film a high school student is able to change the entire world around him by revisiting his bad childhood memories and altering the decisions he made at the time. Each new decision alters the course of the future, resulting in completely different set of life experiences, and ultimately everyone he knows and loves is changed as a consequence of his actions.
Episode 3 of Life is Strange continues to utilise the rewind mechanic and in doing so increasingly raises parallels with The Butterfly Effect. The rewind mechanic has truly allowed Life is Strange to stand out from the rest of the adventure game crowd, but it has often felt contrived and too restrictive... until now.
The dramatic turn of events in the last episode - with Kate jumping to her death in my playthrough - has a large impact on the tone of this third episode. Not only was I still very much regretting my inability to save Kate, but the metaphorical spectre of her suicide dominates the mood at Blackwell Academy. Dontnod’s decision to set most of this episode at night highlights the importance of atmosphere in this series; the dark hallways and despondent populace compounding your own feelings of remorse.
But then Chloe and Max suddenly decide to break into the principal's office to search for student records. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for a sense of urgency considering that the world is expected to end in three days' time, but I just couldn’t help but feel a bit of cognitive dissonance over how Dontnod decided to portray Chloe and Max in this scene - the two laugh and joke around as if nothing's happened, which is a huge disconnect given the gravity of what's happened.
The fetch quest during this scene is also a bit dull, although it becomes entertaining in retrospect; colour me impressed by Dontnod's ability to constantly push Max’s powers to the limits in new and fascinating ways.
Subsequent scenes are much more impactful, serving to flesh out the series' two main characters and further explore the dynamic between them. The events of the series so far are cleverly put into perspective; Chloe’s hair colour is slowly fading and Max is having to wear other people's clothes, but you get the feeling that their old friendship is finally starting to fall back into place.
Dontnod also has a knack for pulling the rug out from under your feet. The conclusion of this episode genuinely had me in shock, and was certainly a “Holy shit!” moment.
Despite its slightly odd sci-fi premise, Life is Strange is a very well-grounded series. It explores serious topics and portrays the world of a teenage girl with great accuracy and sensitivity. Texts are sent by concerned parents, relationships are slightly awkward, and characters feel genuine and real.
But with the entire world around Max changing, from the relationships she’s rekindled to the decisions she's made, it makes one wonder; how important, really, are the decisions the player makes along the way? Time will tell, but I'm certainly eager to find out, and the journey so far has definitely been worth it.
This review is based on a retail copy of Life is Strange: Episode 3 - Chaos Theory for the PC