Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Please only continue reading if you’ve completed Life is Strange. Last chance to turn back!
Life is Strange shifted from a high school after school special to a time travelling sci-fi drama. The character development is extremely well-done, as well as the writing being hilarious and realistic. However, I felt unresolved as the game came to a close. (The soundtrack is kick-ass though.)
The doe is a symbol throughout the game and Max uses it to find clues and follow the path. I believe that the doe is some sort of symbol of Rachel Amber, as it’s aiming to help her throughout her journey. Finding that Max can travel through photographs to that particular time was a pivotal part of the story. Although questionable, she immediately goes back to save Chloe’s dad from dying. The unfortunate outcome of that is that Chloe gets in a car accident and is paralyzed and dying. Episodes 3 and 4 went by quickly as they were an emotional rollercoaster of seeing alternate realities and putting together pieces of the puzzle regarding Nathan, David, and what you think is going on. Episode 5 is a whirlwind of twists and turns, throwing the player into uncomfortable scenarios and being confronted with death, murder, drugs, kidnapping, and more. After a series of Max’s nightmares as the game comes to a close, the player is confronted with what feels like a Twilight Zone recap of the game in images and flashbacks. Soon thereafter, Max is witness to Chloe talking badly about her and acting differently around Warren, Victoria, and Mr. Jefferson — a bit of a surreal and disgusting experience after you spent the whole game trying to save her. The ending(s) were a bit of a letdown as you’re forced to pick between saving Chloe and the town of Arcadia Bay. A few things stood out as I played through the episodes that are great themes to take from the story. When Kate and Max find a way to forgive and even find love for Victoria, it shows how Max is truly the hero of the story. As the player, your focus shifts from blaming Victoria and Nathan for the wrongdoings to putting together the pieces that Mr. Jefferson is responsible for the whole debacle. Suddenly, you become worried for all the characters you’ve grown to love throughout the story. There’s a moment in the hospital (if Kate lived through your story) when you inspect a card that’s of particular religious identification. Max’s voice tells you “If this is what Kate needs and it makes her happy, then I’m happy for her”. This general ideal is what religion stands out to resemble- it’s faith for some people, and necessary to get through the hard times. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The ending of Life is Strange had little significance to me. It didn’t feel like it wrapped up the game at all, or gave me any sort of resolution. I disliked the requirement to choose between Chloe and the whole town of Arcadia Bay. Empathizing for both spectrums of characters, particularly Chloe’s mother, seems innately human and denying that outcome felt overdramatic and forced. The scientific explanation of the storm could have been better told, aside from Warren seemingly deducing it from nothing, randomly. Overall, the game was an enjoyable emotional rollercoaster. A game hasn’t made me feel so close to the characters in years. What hit me the hardest were when Rachel Amber was found dead, and again when Chloe was on her death bed and asked Max to put her out of her misery, so her last moment could be one they shared together. I can’t help but empathize particularly with Max, as she’s been designed to be our generic protagonist that many people can relate to. She’s a true hero, always wanting to please others (which is actually confronted in one of the final scenes of the game, when Max has an eerie conversation with herself). However, the game is inevitably about Chloe, even though she’s not our main character. I found myself disliking Chloe in the first few episodes, as she was constantly making stupid choices and forcing Max to clean up after her. However, over time you can see that they truly work together as a team, and that makes them something worth fighting for. All screenshots taken from the game Life is Strange and are property of Square Enix/Dontnod.