Life is Strange – Episode 3: Chaos Theory

 

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Review by · May 23, 2015

As Maxine forges ahead to find her identity, as does Life is Strange. Episode 3 feels much less like a Telltale clone, and more like a series of fetch quests in a story-centric adventure title. Puzzles aplenty, Max discovers more mysteries and some answers as we enter the halfway point of the series. Although the body of this installment lacks and feels repetitive, the ending makes up for the lackluster journey.

Continuing right where Episode 2 left off, Chaos Theory reminds us that we are, in fact, at school — at least for a little while. Most of the episode takes place outside of campus life, foregoing its roots, much like Maxine herself. The answers uncovered are mostly predictable, while others satisfy question marks ably. At no point was I wow’d, struck, or felt as if the writers were one step ahead of me — until the ending. Kind of. Even that was predictable, but actually seeing the ending grabbed me.

Potential spoilers aside, character relationships grow ever-so slightly, but flow in predictable directions. The dialogue remains strong and mature, sometimes shockingly so, though I commend the developers for remaining true to each character’s voice. Speaking of which, the actors continue to perform in stellar fashion, bringing an otherwise ho-hum plot to life. To say I dislike the journey would be disingenuous, but I have yet to chomp at the bit in anticipation.

Parallel to the still-budding plot, the gameplay falls back on traditional fetch quests. However, because of Max’s personality and Blackwell’s archetypical rich kid cast, these asides contain entertaining observations along the way in what could easily be a mundane environment. As alluded to earlier, the third episode is less about dialogue choices and more about solving puzzles and finding the right clickable. This is certainly an unwanted departure from the more engrossing alternative, but not completely devoid of entertainment. Turning back time remains a gameplay staple, but is almost entirely used as a method to peek at choices one has already decided against. Although each gamer will likely have their own approach to using regression, most of the choices are so polarizing that the result doesn’t even need to be seen for one to know which direction to travel.

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The visuals remain constant — if you like what you’ve seen thus far, then you will be happy. I ran into some odd graphical glitches, like missing props, that took me a bit out of immersion, but I wasn’t that immersed in the first place. Episode 3 controls just dandy, as usual.

At this point, I want to continue Life is Strange because I’m already invested. Although it would be unfair to say “I might as well finish,” Square Enix’s attempt at adventure titles is a cut below the competition. That isn’t to say that the attempt hasn’t been admirable thus far, but with so-so pacing and repetitious storytelling, the RPG-famed publisher and developer will need to ensure that the series closes strong. Like with a giant tornado or something.


Pros

Stellar use of camera, voice acting, nice vibe.

Cons

Conventional adventure game practices, re-treading old territory, misuse of novel gameplay mechanic.

Bottom Line

A Telltale-esque title set in suburban America that hints at maturity.

Graphics
90
Sound
95
Gameplay
70
Control
100
Story
70
Overall Score 74
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Bob Richardson

Bob Richardson

Bob has been reviewing games at RPGFan since 2009. Over that period, he has grown in his understanding that games, their stories and characters, and the people we meet through them can enrich our lives and make us better people. He enjoys keeping up with budding scholarly research surrounding games and their benefits.