What I think Life is Strange is really about…
By Kevin Kennedy
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!
So, I just finished Life is Strange, and played through both endings (each so very bittersweet), and some thoughts I’ve been thinking throughout the game have crystalized. You see, I don’t think that any of the events after the initial bathroom scene actually happen. I think that this game is really about Max having a psychotic break when she recognizes exactly who is getting seeing getting shot in the first moments of episode one.
While I started to come up with this theory early in episode two, it seems more probable given the two endings. The first, where Max sacrifices Chloe to save everyone else, is Max coming to terms with reality, with the fact that she is powerless to save the best friend she abandoned. The other ending, where the town is destroyed, is Max giving in to madness. That truck ride into the sunset is totally in Max’s mind. The clearest representation of this are the deer wandering the town, the hallucination made real. All along, Max has been seeing ghost deer, leading her along her path, and the family of deer, wandering the center of town, prove that this is the final stage of Max’s journey. In this scenario, Max probably loses complete touch with reality, meaning that she will never return to the real world.
But wait, you say, what about all the other stories, about Kate and Rachel Amber? Well, that’s simple. Max is an observant teenage girl wrapped up in drama, constantly looking at posters for a missing girl. She can tell, just in class, that something is wrong with Kate, so her mind completes the picture, wrapping in ideas about serial abductions and preying upon Max’s own insecurities along the way. Throw in several scenarios where Max gets to get revenge on the mean, popular girl, and where she gets to see that even the most unrelatable people are human too, save her friends from unknown terrors, and live out some small teenage fantasies (complete with a realization that the cute nerdy boy is REALLY into her) and it seems that Max’s story may be grounded squarely in her teenage unconscious. There’s even an elusive “perfect” girl in the form of Rachel Amber. Rachel may represent Max’s unobtainable ideal: talented, popular, a little more dangerous, and a perfect friend to Chloe. The fact that Rachel’s body isn’t really ever seen helps cement this fact, leaving the truth to exist only in photographs and memories.
The final “nightmare’ sequence in episode five goes a long way to cement this theory, blatantly having characters say the things in Max’s subconscious. And the final sequence, where Chloe and Max say that their memories will last forever, that’s just Max’s brain trying to ease her guilt. The alternate timeline where Max realizes that even her time-altering powers can’t save anyone is just her brain’s way of trying to get her to recognize her own powerlessness, and to make her cope with the guilt she feels for abandoning her old friend.
Ok, so maybe this theory seems far-fetched, but I think it makes sense. How about you? Do you think Max is a time-traveling, mystery-solving super friend, or just a girl in distress? In the end, does it matter?