Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Life is Strange has really become an interesting game. Something that Square Enix would probably have never touched years ago, Dontnod’s weird experimental entry into the episodic adventure games has managed to hit its highest notes yet with Chaos Theory.
I was a little weary going into Chaos Theory, and I figured Out of Time’s extremely dramatic ending probably couldn’t be topped. Chaos Theory doesn’t even wait a full day after the events to start showing the consequences. One of the scenes I found the most striking was actually a rather low-key moment: Max checking Kate’s Facebook page after her suicide. The same people that spent time harassing her and driving her to jump off that building are now publicly talking about how much they loved and cared for Kate and how they wished they could spend more time together. It’s a really interesting critique of the hypocritical high school behavior to put someone down until something terrible happens, and then use that event to further make themselves look like better people.
While Out of Time put it aside for the more Kate-centered story, Chaos Theory fully picks up the search for Rachael. As Max and Chloe begin to dig into Rachael’s actions and dealings with the various students and faculties of Blackwell Academy they start to discover her past and that she may not have been the super amazing wonder-girl that everyone paints her as. Accusations of her spending time with drug dealers hurt Chloe, and she’s out to prove them wrong. David’s continued obsession with security, Nathan’s erratic behavior, Joyce’s efforts to keep her family together… all of it is starting to really crash together, and Life is Strange is really leading up to a dramatic and potentially devastating last few episodes.
While the story continues to excite me, Chaos Theory is a little hit and miss when it comes to gameplay. There’s still puzzles, and by the course of the game I had constructed a pipe bomb to blow open a door, tricked an angry drug addict into giving up his car keys, and found enough information to guess a password and log into someone else’s computer. Yet while some of that was fun, there are a few downers too. A stealth segment in a locker room was kind of clunky, and for some reason getting caught means I had to rewind a large chunk of time rather than a few seconds where I could have just ducked into my hidey hole a little further. More than once I had to collect items that were hidden in weird locations. Apparently some people keep their eggs in a hallway rather than inside of a refrigerator. Like the other episodes Chaos Theory is about two hours long, but these fetch quests seemed determined to drag it out.
During its final scene Chaos Theory has once again managed to shock me with another meaningful conclusion. The benefits and dangers of time travel are becoming more and more apparent, and the mystery around the missing Rachael and the weird events surrounding Arcadia Bay are compelling. Life is Strange is still continuing to be another game that I’m excited for each episodic release, and Chaos Theory may be the strongest one yet.