Chaos theory claims that a butterfly flapping its wings in china can cause a tornado in a small coastal town in the United States weeks later. In other worlds: every action, no matter how small and insignificant, can have big and unforeseen consequences in the future. Developers Dontnod Entertainment hope to impose the same principle on Life is Strange: Chaos Theory, the third episode of the adventure series. However, they miss one crucial aspect of chaos theory – the action.
Life is Strange: Chaos Theory is another episode where nothing really happens until the very last few minutes of the game. Well, “nothing” is maybe too strong a word for multiple accounts of breaking and entering, but they all amount to pretty much that. Max’s and Chloe’s investigation into the disappearance of Rachel Amber does finally go forward, and we do get to see a glimmer of character depth and development, and yet for some reason the episode still feels like it never gets anywhere. That is until the ending that throws you for a loop and pretty much changes everything.
I won’t say much else about it, except that thanks to an excellent choice of song, the ending of Chaos Theory is the most touching moment in the series so far. In general, the soundtrack remains one of this series’ strong point, as well as the aesthetics, though by now I’m getting pretty tired of cats with mustaches and ironic posters.
What doesn’t improve are the characters. I don’t know if it’s the writing or the voice acting, but every single character you talk to, including Max herself, comes off as one dimensional and superficial. As I mentioned earlier, we do get to a peek into Chloe’s inner world when we realize just how important Rachel is to her, but that’s not enough to pierce her cliché punk-rock chick veneer. The game never breaks any of the stereotypes we are used to see in other media, and every character behaves just as its archetype dictates. It says something about the game when the character I most care about is Lisa, the plant in Max’s room.
And I killed Lisa. Apparently, watering your plant two days in a row is not a good idea. Lisa drowned, and I’m left to live with the guilt. While not as emotionally devastating as Lisa’s fate, other consequences start manifesting themselves in Chaos Theory. Most of them are small, like who’s nice to Max and who wants her gone, but there are a few that venture into the realm of life or death. It actually feels good (and sometimes terrifying) to finally see the results of your decisions.
Another pretty good aspect of this episodes are the puzzles. There’s no more hand-holding in Chaos Theory, and the player must know when and how to use Max’s rewind powers to achieve the desire results. While not overly-complicated, the puzzles do require you to pay attention and think in four dimensions – something you might struggle with at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it very satisfying. And Chloe’s almost childish enthusiasm every time Max demonstrates her powers is sure to make you smile.
Life is Strange – Episode Three: Chaos Theory is neither here nor there. In some aspects it’s an improvement on previous episodes, but in others it’s a step back. For instance, this is the first episode I could play all the way through in one sitting. The structure is much better than before, and chapters blend more naturally together. The whole episode goes by a lot faster, with the ending leaving you on edge for the next one, which is what you want in an episodic series. Still, there are a lot of moments that feel like filler and have zero contribution to the story or experience. All in all, episode three waits till the very end to start flapping its wings, hoping episode four and five will be enough to turn the series into the hurricane it so wants to be.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.