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Life is Strange: Episode 3 (Xbox One) Review

 
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At A Glance...
 

Formats: Xbox One, PS4, PC
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.0
8/ 10


User Rating
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We Liked?


  • Great depth of story with some genuine intrigue
  • Maxs powers are still just about new enough to carry things through
  • Solid character development and good use of decision making from previous episodes

Not So Much?


  • Script is much, much better but still needs work to make it less stilted and more natural
  • Down times during the game quickly become directionless and border on tedium
  • A small smattering of graphical issues, a couple of bugs too but nothing too terrible


Final Fiendish Feelings?

Life is Strange continues, in its third episode, to offer up a compellingly unique story. A story that at times engages better than almost any other and at other times leaves you floundering. DontNod bring us Chaos Theory, the third outing for out reluctant heroine Max Caulfield. The end of episode two left us with […]

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Posted June 16, 2015 by

 
Final Fiendish Feelings?
 
 

Life is Strange continues, in its third episode, to offer up a compellingly unique story. A story that at times engages better than almost any other and at other times leaves you floundering.

DontNod bring us Chaos Theory, the third outing for out reluctant heroine Max Caulfield. The end of episode two left us with a fellow student, Kate Marsh, either alive or dead dependent on your actions as Max. The story picks up directly after these events with the whole school abuzz with talk of Kate and, in my case, attempted suicide.

You can see the hooks and seeds that the developer has in place to push the story angle one way or another but for the most part it is handled incredibly well. These initial dorm tasks talks take up very little of your actual time though and you are soon rushing off to meet with Chloe, your drop-out childhood friend who’s currently helping you to locate a missing person, Rachel, which Max also hopes will help her get to the bottom of what has been happening to Kate.

Max’s story being told here in chapter 3 is the most compelling so far offering a much deeper look at the people you’ve only had glimpses of before. Classmates reveal more of their insecurities and true natures. The many-layered mystery that is the local town also starts to deepen. All these aspects combine to make this the best story of the three parts.

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The only knock I can make against the developments this time around is that Max seems to develop very little herself this time around. The reactions and ramifications to her powers seem to have gone out the window again apart from some obvious moral temptations. The last 20 minutes goes a huge way to redeem this though setting up one of the most intriguing cliffhangers I can recall in any episodic videogame.

One of the few issues I have had throughout the series so far is the script. The voice work has been, for the most part, serviceable to great. The script they ask those poor actors to read though has not been! Thankfully this has been taken in to account somewhat in the third iteration with only two uses of the word “hella” and mostly ironically. The natural flow of teenagers talking has yet to be fully grasped but this is a significant step closer.

Graphically, this title seems a little rougher around the edges with lots more pop-in happening as new areas and textures are being loaded. That said the aesthetic is still a pleasing one and overall it’s hard to be too critical as they get the job done. Lip-syncing is a large area that needs to be improved though as characters still flap their gums around like a guppy chewing bubble gum.

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The real issues here with episode 3 of Life is Strange come from the times you’re not using Max’s powers or talking through story beats. It comes during the actual puzzle and adventure portions of the game when you’re doing something lazy and mundane like finding 3 objects to help open door X or get item Y. These times of just ambling about the scenery feel far too loose and directionless. Freedom to explore is great, and I appreciated exploring some of the corners, but there comes a point where you move towards stagnation and futility. Chaos Theory unfortunately embraces these times all too often.

Final Thoughts

Overall Dontnod seem to have started the process of folding in some of the feedback received from critics and fans alike. This has lead to some positive changes to the way the game sounds and plays.

The directionless nature of some of the downtime parts of the game can leave a lot to be desired and undo some of the wonderful work being done by the story to pull you in to this world.

More than any previous episode Chaos Theory takes a deep-dive on the story and world that Max inhabits. The final parts of the episode will leave your jaw down and a massive “no… wt.!” almost worthy of an episode of Game of Thrones.

If you’ve yet to take a chance on Max and her story then I urge you to rectify that, especially if you’re a fan of Telltale games or point and click titles in general. The Life is Strange series has been rough in places and so close to excellent on so many levels it’s frustrating. The fact DontNod are still pushing for improvements though means we’ve still got hope for that perfect episode yet.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.