Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 3, Chaos Theory (PS4)

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Title: Life Is Strange: Episode 3, Chaos Theory
Format: PlayStation Network Download (3.96 GB)
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: DONTNOD
Original MSRP: $4.99 (Single Episode) / $19.99 (Complete Season)
ESRB Rating: M
Life is Strange is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2015
– Best Newcomer (PS3)

Reviews of the Rest of the Episodes:
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 1, Chrysalis (PS4)
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 2, Out of Time (PS4)
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 4, Dark Room (PS4)
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 5, Polarized (PS4)

Gameplay:
Chaos Theory starts with the obligatory “On previous episodes of Life Is Strange” montage. DONTNOD has left out the conclusions in the plot made by your previous plays-through. It would have been hella cool to see those choices reflected in the opening sequence but I understand the extra work that would have been. Hella cool but not necessary so no DING to the game. Just an observation, yo.

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I heartily suggest everyone who plays this game uses the multiple Save options to play multiple times, making different choices. To refrain from any spoilers, that is all I will say apart from the fact that this practice will double your pleasure, double your fun. And also maybe double your enjoyment of the space/time continuum.

I have been playing these episodes through twice each time to get different branching paths and different endings. I want to see various ways the story can move and report these movements to you, gentle reader.

On my second playthrough with my other save I noticed that some things weren’t or were available which were or weren’t on the other save. Some of the simplest things which might even garner a trophy may not have been available. That knowledge coupled with the sheer fun of multiple plays bolster what I have said from the beginning of this series. You must play the episodes more than once while making different choices. That is the sole way to “Josh”** this game.

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The hand-holding with regard to turning-back time has lessened with this episode. There will be an icon letting the player know they can make a different choice but by Episode Three one should get that by now.

Do not forget to check out Max’s journal. Just… don’t. And check texts.

… Eggs. Eggs and bacon or eggs and milk. …
Feeling stuck ten minutes into the episode? People with their backs turned can’t usually tell what’s going on behind them. Especially when drunk.

The previous episodes generally presented two choices during conversations. Now there are three or more. The branching possibilities become more complex. The idea of maintaining only two game saves in order to see all the story possibilities has vanished. Perhaps this is why the game provided three saves from the beginning.

At one point there is a puzzle of sorts. Ingredients have to be collected… but you’re only given a brief moment to see what they are and then you’re off on a fetch quest. Don’t become frustrated. Remember that everything in the game is point-and-click in nature. When you see an ingredient you can take it.

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On the other hand, while I understand that some items shown to be clickable, as far as game design goes, must be dead ends, I don’t think I should be made to feel like an idiot for clicking on them. Particularly when, due to the game design, I HAVE to search everything. Work more smartly, DONTNOD!

… it kicks me in the nethers with the simple stuff it does wrong …
Eggs. Eggs and bacon or eggs and milk. Do you find that cryptic? It’s the same in the game. I keep my darned eggs in the fridge because I always unpack my groceries as soon as I get home with them. Some people do not? Actually, DONTNOD, everyone does. Everyone! That is the point. So be careful about constructing puzzles which indicate the characters are ignorant. If a character works in a diner, she puts her damned eggs away as soon as she gets in the house. That was incredibly stupid for a game which concentrates on character as much as this. Very disappointing. It also means I have to now play as if all the characters in the game may or may not behave as though brain-damaged at any moment.

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Um…morBID is how we say “morbid”? With everything this game does right, it kicks me in the nethers with the simple stuff it does wrong. The simply easy stuff like saying words. Yes, this doesn’t kill the game. It doesn’t ruin the game. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter, like “morBID”. My problem is that they are trying to make a video game into a “Tell Your Own Adventure” book. Imagine if half the words in those books were misspelled!

Visuals:
Life Is Strange, Chaos Theory is just as pretty to look at as its preceding episodes.

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Audio:
This third episode doesn’t have the engaging music that the first had, or even the second for that matter. The beautiful theme is still in effect but the pop singles that were evident in the first two episodes have not been replaced with anything other than instrumental themes.

The voice over work is better than ever.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online components.

… It’s time everyone gets to see themselves reflected in gaming …
Conclusion:
Life Is Strange is so good I kinda wish I was a shut-in giving me time enough to dig deep and see all possible eventualities. That, my friends, is ultimate replayability and value for money!

I do have nit-picky problems here and there but nothing worthy of hyperbole.

I really enjoy how references to pop culture are casually woven into the script. Even pop culture from decades ago like Punk Rock Girl by The Dead Milkmen. And yes, these references are catalogued under Vitally Important in my mind. Like a flyer calling the devil Pazuzu. Which you would only know from The Exorcist II as the name of the demon which possessed Regan in The Exorcist.

These writers have raided my brain! I’m also really stoked that a video game exists at the same time I’m writing for PS Nation allowing me to prove to the world how actually important MTV was when the M stood for Music and not Moron.

There are some confusing signals in the game for LGBT youth. I wonder why Chloe has certain images on her walls yet has other things in her pockets. I am keeping an eye out, like when do I not?, for positive and inclusive plot points. It’s time everyone gets to see themselves reflected in gaming. I hope DONTNOD knows what they’re doing.

That said, Episode Three does have some graffiti and a line said by a mean person which are blatantly homophobic. I interpret these things for nothing more than their realism, although they do set my teeth on edge in the current climate where LGBT youth are so much more at risk for suicide than their heterosexual counterparts by a factor of four. I hope DONTNOD is making a point with this.

Even with the few criticisms I have, I was so impressed by this episode I even raised the score from the first two which were both great.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

** Joshing a game refers to PS Nation Co-Host Josh Langford’s penchant for exploring every little corner of a game world while playing, piling on hours of exploration to what would otherwise be a much shorter game.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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