The interactive drama series that had audiences captivated for the last several months came to an end in the fifth and final episode last week, where all the choices built up to two devastating conclusions.
Here's a summary of the videogame's storyline:
Life Is Strange is a five part episodic game that sets out to revolutionise story based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present and future.
You are Max, a photography senior who saves her old friend Chloe by discovering she can rewind time. The pair soon find themselves exposed to the darker side of Arcadia Bay as they uncover the disturbing truth behind the sudden disappearance of a fellow student.
Meanwhile, Max begins to have premonitions as she struggles to understand the implications of her power. She must quickly learn that changing the past can sometimes lead to a devastating future.
The game originally started off as a bit teen angst drama, but took a more adult turn with plot twists that involved very moral decisions on the player's part and the mystery involving a missing teenager and the suicide (or attempted based on your play through) of another teenage girl. As this was a choice based game, I noticed that each word or action I chose had consequences or repercussions further into the game. Max was a very relatable character, she was quiet and uncertain of herself and grew into a stronger and selfless character as the story progressed.
As it was revealed Max had time-travelling powers, it gave the player the chance to relive previous moments and change decisions for different outcomes which will effect events in the past, present and future.
Spoilers ahead that consist of the narrative based on my choices:
All the choices I made in the previous four episodes played key roles in the final chapter as Max and Victoria were held captive by the psychopath Mark Jefferson - as it was revealed the photography teacher had a perverted obsession with photographing teenage girls tied up and victimised for his version of art. His exact quote was "I want to capture the moment that innocence turns into corruption. That shift from black, to white, to grey"
I was genuinely surprised when Jefferson was revealed as the main antagonist, his sinister portrayal as the villain was uncomfortable to watch as he held the girls captured and calmly admitted to murdering Max's best friend, killing Nathan (who murdered Rachel) and Victoria and causing Kate to commit suicide - the voice actors really upped their game in this powerful episode. After changing small details in a time-traveling trip Max was able to escape in an alternative timeline and Jefferson was arrested with Kate being saved - However, as Max won an art competition in San Francisco, Chloe was in danger from a deadly storm and thus Max returned to the original timeline. Due to small changes from the previous timeline Max was saved by an unlikely ally, but the post apocalypse storm vision from the first episode came to life as the town was slowly being destroyed and Max traveled back to save Chloe and change the future again. Once reunited with Chloe, Max confessed how altering time has had terrible consequences and tearfully explained how she went back in time to save Chloe's father and this created an alternative reality with Chloe paralysed and slowly dying - which lead to being faced with the most emotional choice, Chloe asking for Max to help her die. That was the most heartbreaking scene in Episode Four and beautifully acted and written - my choice was to say no because I honestly would not be able to do that and it was definitely the most difficult decision to make in the game. Chloe believed Max and they both agreed to warn Chloe's stepfather David (who was Max's saviour in the previous timeline, yes the non-linear narrative was all over the place), but Max passed out.
This caused Max to enter a dreamlike state as the player relived all of the key moments of the story with creepy thriller references to classic movies (Sitting in a classroom and a massive flock of birds fly into the window, causing them to cover the windows in blood - all I'm thinking is Hitchcock "Birds"). A moment that stuck out for me was the diner where the townsfolk were all crammed inside and all blamed Max while begging her to save them and Max came face to face with her evil doppelgänger. Evil Max challenged Max's choices, demanding whether leaving a trail of death and destruction in her path was worth it and she used her powers to save Chloe who was selfish and would destroy her - harsh Evil Max! After Chloe appeared and defended Max and hers relationship, Max entered a final dream sequence and finally regained consciousness. Regardless of the changes, the storm was still happening and unfortunately confirmed what Warren said before - Max was causing the storm by changing time and it would destroy the town, but Chloe reassured Max that she wasn't to blame and gave the most beautiful speech ever as she urged Max to save everyone by going back and letting her die instead of saving her. She went on to say that being with Max was the best farewell gift, because she did nothing but show her love and friendship and that no matter what happens the moments they shared were real and will always be theirs. Once Chloe gave her the butterfly photo to travel back to the moment she saved her, they shared a passionate goodbye kiss and Chloe professed her love for Max.
As a shipper of this pairing, I had an internal fan girl moment with this scene and it was a tragically beautiful ending to their love story.
When Max is back inside the bathroom, she breaks down in tears as she listens to Chloe die and the original timeline has been restored - sacrificing Chloe prevented the storm from happening and thus saves Arcadia Bay.
Life is Strange ends with Jefferson and Nathan being arrested for Rachel's murder, Kate is still alive (she was not driven to commit suicide as she was not drugged by Nathan for Jefferson's photography) and Max grieves the loss of her love. The final scenes showed Max attending Chloe's funeral where a blue butterfly lands on the coffin, which is Chloe's spirit animal and she smiles as she realises her best friend's soul lives on.
This was a beautifully written and acted video game, the butterfly effect featured allowed the players to create their own individual stories based on the choices presented. The writers created a deep and thought-provoking drama with complex and realistic characters and the science-fiction and fantasy elements made the plot even more exciting. This story also wrote a positive reorientation of an LGBT romance with depth and heart without labelling or stereotyping, it was just a realistic story about two childhood best friends being reunited after years apart and slowly falling in love as they are thrown in this supernatural mystery together - sorry Warren fans, but Chloe was a much better love interest for me in my play through.
The main female cast were phenomenal in their roles. Hannah Telle portrayed the insecure girl next door that is our heroine Max perfectly, her character development showed Telle performances grow stronger as she took on the darker storyline her character faced as she became a selfless young woman. I especially enjoyed the scene between Max and her doppelgänger as it allowed Telle to play an antagonist alongside the protagonist, which she did immensely well with. Without a doubt, Hannah Telle was a perfect fit for this role and the story's main protagonist.
Ashly Burch gave breathtaking performances as she captured the true essence of the punk rebel with a terrible past and fear of abandonment. Her acting was so believable and perfectly mixed her character's funny moments, serious moments and emotional moments in one scene. In the alternative universe where Chloe was disabled, Burch gave a heartbreaking moving performance as her character was now vulnerable and losing the will to live - Ashly Burch was perfectly cast as Chloe.
Dani Knights took on the role as Queen Bee Victoria Chase, Max's photography rival and bitchy mean girl. However, Dani Knights gives this character three-dimension as she portrayed both vulnerable and caring sides to her character. From my play through, I really enjoyed seeing the character development of Victoria as she showed remorse and guilt when Kate died, encouragement to Max to pursue photography and trusting her when they're both in danger.
Dayeanne Hutton played the sweet church girl who after one drunken mistake, a viral video sparked vicious bullying and drove her to tragically take her life. As she was one of Jefferson's victims, her character becomes darker and as I failed to save her, her suicide gave the game a darker theme as the mystery became more complicated. Dayeanne Hutton portrayed Kate really well, her tone gave the character an innocence and purity that none of the other girls had and to see it slowly crumble as her faith in God wavered as she saw the world through a darker lens was intense.
The male actors were good in their performances, but I was slightly disappointed that the male roles weren't multi-layered as much as the female leads and we only really got to see different sides to them in Episodes Four and Five - although I am guessing this wad to add suspense in the narrative. Admittedly, Warren was one of the nicest of the male characters in this game and Carlos Luna did great at playing this geeky and awkward nice guy - but he was TOO nice for my liking. He was the second possible love interest for Max, but I definitely thought he was too much of a friend zone character to become a love interest and although he showed a masculine side as he defended her against Nathan in Episode Four I unfortunately still thought they were better as friends - Warren and Kate would've made a great couple though.
Privileged rich boy Nathan, a teenager with drug issues and mental health issues is played by Nik Shriner. Starting out the story as an emotional unstable character who has a dangerous side as he nearly kills Chloe and attacks Max drugs Kate. His character took an even more sinister turn as it was revealed he was Jefferson's protégé and it was revealed he murdered Rachel. Shriner showed terrific acting skills in this secondary antagonist role, but the story revealed his character did all these terrible deeds as Jefferson took advantage of a vulnerable teen and groomed him in a twisted teacher/student relationship. I wasn't fan of Nathan's, but I'm glad the writers developed the character so that he wasn't your typical mean jock and instead a darker character that had demons of his own.
And now we come to Mark Jefferson played by Derek Phillips, who was really able to flex his acting muscles in this role. Starting this story as the charismatic and charming photography teacher, he showed his true colours as he revealed he was capturing teenage girls to twisted photos of them for his collection. This was one of the darkest characters I had seen in any form of fiction, as stated before it was uncomfortable to watch and also captivating as the actor really embraced the sinister and manipulative sides to his character. Jefferson being the main antagonist was a shock, but fit the tone of the story as it turned into a psychological thriller when the kidnapped Max - Derek Phillips gave a chilling performance and showed great diversity in his acting.
The rest of the ensemble cast did a terrific job - especially Don McManus as ex-soldier David and Cissy Jones as Chloe's feisty mother, but all the voice actors gave realistic performances and did great in their individual or multiple roles.
Dontnod Entertainment has done a terrific job at creating this video game that has gripped audiences with it's captivating story and characters, this would make a great movie adaptation or a possible sequel would be nice (just saying) - I look forward to seeing them continue with video games such as this in the future.
Let us know your experience with playing Life is Strange and how you feel about it's epic conclusion in the comments below.