Warning: Spoilers from previous episodes of Life is Strange to follow.
Life is Strange has been a fairly excellent series so far, with both Episode One and Two providing strong writing and a fantastic amount of player choice that’s fragmented the way each player’s sole story moves forward. Episode Three of Life is Strange – titled Chaos Theory – continues in the previous episodes’ footsteps, providing an entertaining journey through Arcadia Bay and finishing with one of the most significant twists I’ve ever seen in a game of this nature.
Chaos Theory picks up right where Episode Two left off. Depending on how your interactions with Kate went on the rooftop and who you blamed thereafter will coincide with how the episode plays out. In my playthrough, I failed to save Kate and blamed David for it, so my experience with Episode Three stemmed from that. I’m not entirely sure how the story will run with the other choices, but I’m interested to see how developers Dontnod have approached this scenario considering there’s a massive amount of choice following on from the previous episode.
Chaos Theory has a strong focus on investigation this time around as Max continues diving further into the secrets of Arcadia Bay and Blackwell Academy. As is to be expected, utilizing Max’s rewind ability is key in a handful of major and minor moments. There’s a lot of puzzle solving to be had in Episode Three as well, and I found that it was a really refreshing change from Episode Two’s character driven tone. Fleshing out the world and location in this episode gives the story more of a chance to breath, and I really enjoyed the ability to solve most of the puzzles at my own pace and look through all of the extra bits littered around the world to further understand Max, the world, and how she perceives it. The disadvantage in having the episode solely focus on puzzles and investigating is that it can become tiresome and repetitive, and I felt that was one of the major downsides to this episode in particular. Episode One and Two were fairly sporadic in the way they offered you puzzles and methods to get past them, but in Episode Three two thirds of your time will be spent figuring out how to move on to the next part of the story. It’s no deal-breaker, as the puzzles are easy enough to get passed without too much effort but it feels like more of a chore than anything else if you’re just in it for the story.
Life is Strange has continually teetered with its writing, as at times it can completely hit the right tone that works with the story whereas other times it can feel incredibly cheesy. Episode Three continues on with this trend, and while it isn’t as evident this time around, there were various moments during my playthrough where I couldn’t help but cringe at a line Max or Chloe delivered. It almost feels unnatural at times, and that really detracts from the immersion and experience I’ve most commonly associated with Life is Strange.
While the first and second act of Episode Three were solely focused on investigating Blackwell Academy and various instances of Arcadia Bay, it was the third and final act of this episode that completely blew me away. Not only does this part of Life is Strange turn everything I thought I knew about the game on its head, but it also leaves me in a desperate struggle to see what happens next. Dontnod completely nailed the final act of Chaos Theory, and it genuinely left me with a feeling of anguish. It’s rare in this landscape to execute such an excellent twist, and it’s something that just has to be experienced without minor or major spoilers to really appreciate.
I’ve been a fan of the soundtrack and score of Life is Strange from the beginning, and Episode Three continues on with that trend. There’s a handful of great tracks utilised this time around that all attribute to crafting the tone Episode Three sets. With licensed songs from artists like Alt-J, Bright Eyes and Syd Matters, developer Dontnod have really added to the tone of Life is Strange in a way that gives it life and real depth. I’m sure this will continue on into the final two episodes and I’m interested to see what music choices will be utilised after the ending of this episode in particular.
There’s not really much I can take away from Episode Three of Life is Strange that’s entirely negative. The first two thirds of the episode felt subdued in comparison to previous episodes, but I felt it was a necessary part of the story that players have to understand to really attach with the characters and Rachel Amber’s disappearance. There wasn’t a massive amount of detail given away about the storm that’s coming either, but I’m certain we’ll see more of that very soon. I thought Episode Three might have been more filler than anything else considering we’re now halfway through the series, but that wasn’t the case at all and it gives the final two episodes a real chance to flex their muscle in addressing the major concerns that Max has to deal with.
Dontnod’s third entry into the world of Life is Strange is superb, as it continues to give players a lot of context behind the mysteries surrounding Arcadia Bay and Blackwell Academy in particular. While those who just want to further their progress in the story might be frustrated by the amount of puzzles this time around, the end is certainly worth working for as it’s one of the best and most well crafted finales I’ve seen in an episodic game. Above all else, Episode Three of Life is Strange sets up the final two episodes perfectly, fundamentally changing the path I thought we were taking with Max and Chloe and throwing it onto a completely new one. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS3, PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
A review code was provided by the publisher.