Life is Strange: Episode 3 – Chaos Theory Review

Continuing the story of Max, the last episode ended not only with that moment, but also a rather ominous eclipse. Following this, Max and best friend Chloe are ramping up their investigation into the disappearance of Rachel Amber aided by Max’s time rewind powers. Her power allowing her to rewind time to specific points, changing the outcome of certain events, and if you choose, changing a particular dialogue path you went down.

Back during my review of the first episode I mentioned that if you actually stop to think about it then the time travel mechanic makes zero sense. Well, that’s sort of back with a vengeance in episode 3 as the puzzles you encounter actually integrate these logic breaking moments into the solution.  For instance, being able to pick up items, rewind time and then still have them in your inventory is actually used to solve a puzzle. Something that I did by accident because it doesn’t make any sense!

Most mind bending of all is the fact that as you rewind time Max is stationary as everything else moves around you, which I also mentioned in my episode 1 review. Something I was finally able to accept in episode 2, but is again brought to the forefront in episode 3 as this unique mechanic is used to get into a locked room. And again, it took me a while to figure this out as years of time travel movies and video games has hammered into me that this isn’t how time travel is supposed to work.

On the plus side though, puzzles! Seeing as Telltale Games are moving further and further away from actual gameplay into more interactive fiction (not that there’s anything wrong with that) it’s good to see that a developer can meld puzzles and story together in this way. And it’s all done with quite a lot of style. Of course, if you’re reading this then chances are you’ve already played (and hopefully) enjoyed the first two episodes. The almost drawing like art aesthetic is quite brilliant, and almost made me look past the, at times, poor lip syncing when characters speak.

The first few scenes of Chaos Theory aren’t the strongest, a few character moments that don’t say anything new and feel very much like treading water before the big moments occur. And the love it or hate it dialogue is back with a vengeance. Chloe once again the wise cracking sidekick who sounds like she just dropped out of a badly written teen flick. Whenever she refers to her step father as “step douche” it makes me violently want to strangle something. Shame because she’s an interesting character when she’s speaking like a human being.

Despite the slow, pondering start, the pace soon picks up as new powers are discovered and difficult decisions are made. Decisions still managing to never be black and white, providing a great balancing act where every choice could have positive or negative repercussions. And just like all good episodic games, the cliffhanger ending is enough to bring me back to see exactly what it all means.

While Chaos Theory may not hit the highs of episode 2, it does carry on its tale of loss and mystery with aplomb. A few pacing issues aside, episode 3 manages to further cement Life is Strange as an episodic title that could end up on a few game of the year lists at the end of the year.