The consequences of time-travel hit home in this brilliant episode…
SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD: IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED EPISODE 1-3, DO SO FIRST
The first two episodes of Life is Strange have been slow-burners, getting us used to Arcadia Bay, Blackwell Academy and of course, Max’s time-travel power. Episode 2 showed that we can’t always rely on it to stop someone from dying, but more on the decisions that we make. I managed to save Kate Marsh from committing suicide at the end of the episode, but I know just from the in-game stats that many were unable to, as Max temporarily lost her power and only had the power of reason to talk Kate off the rooftop.
Episode 3 picks up shortly after as Max sneaks out of Blackwell to regroup with Chloe as they look more into the disappearance of Rachel Amber, an old friend of Chloe’s who vanished. They are both convinced that Blackwell will hold some clues and while it pushes the investigation forward slightly, they decide to go for a wee nip in the school pool and are almost caught by Chloe’s step-dad, creepy stalker David.
The duo escape and make their way back to Chloe’s for the night and resume their search in the morning by going through David’s laptop, only to find files and photos of Max, Rachel and Kate on it. Chloe’s mother is naturally shocked by this and tells David to check into a motel till they can figure out what to do, which obviously gets a thumbs-up from Max and Chloe. With David as a possible suspect gone, their efforts turn to Frank who was Chloe’s drug-dealer as they search his RV for clues, only to find that Rachel had a thing with Frank behind Chloe’s back. Chloe goes off the rails as a result and drops Max back at Blackwell.
When Max was at Chloe’s, her mother handed her an old photo of Max and Chloe just before Chloe’s father died in a car accident. While staring at the photo Max is suddenly whisked to the time and parameters of the photo in a situation that is reminds me of a Red Dwarf episode with the same situation. Max can change the outcome of what happened 5 years ago, she can save Chloe’s father from getting in that car, but in doing so changes the timeline dramatically. Rule number one of time-travel: Don’t stop people from dying. It will bite you in the backside in one way or the other.
It’s unclear how much Max’s drastic choice will impact her own timeline at this point, but what happens to Chloe is genuinely shocking, I was not expecting the consequences of the choice to be so severe. I wonder if Max will decide to go back and let the accident happen or if she can live with the outcome. 3 episodes in and we are no closer to finding the true culprit of Rachel’s disappearance, while this episode’s natural mystery is 3 dead whales washed up on shore, strange right?
Overall, Chaos Theory was the best episode to date. Just when you think you have established the characters of the series, the timeline is ripped from below your feet like a rug and suddenly Life is Strange becomes all the more interesting. I almost wish I had Max’s power to fast-forward 6+ weeks to find out what will happen next, all I know is it’s probably not going to be what any of us expect and that’s what makes it stand out from other choice-based games. Let’s hope Episode 4 can continue the trend.