Top 5 Life Is Strange Theories
Life is Strange Review
If you enjoy plot-centered, choice-driven games like Heavy Rain or Until Dawn, you'll love the long-lasting consequences of Life is Strange, where you play as Max Caulfield, a high schooler investigating her classmate's recent disappearance. You won't need quick reflexes or perfect aim to master this title; rather, gameplay involves leisurely exploration and making difficult choices that shape the world around you. Max quickly gains a supernatural "rewind power" that lets you undo any recent choice, but even with this gift, the long-lasting consequences of your selections are difficult to foresee.
LiS is produced by Square Enix, the company behind the infamous Final Fantasy games, and I highly recommend testing it yourself; it's like watching a movie but actually influencing its narrative. Fortunately, LiS has drastically dropped in price, now costing well under $25!
But even after the credits roll, fans still have several questions and speculations about characters. Which ideas are worth exploring? These are the five best fan theories surrounding Life is Strange! Be warned: spoilers ahead.
1. Chloe Didn't Have to Die to Fix the Timeline
The game's final, terrible choice makes you pick whether to save your best friend Chloe or the entire town of Arcadia Bay. How does this work, exactly? Well, apparently Max's initial rewind (to prevent Chloe from being shot by Nathan in Episode 1) damaged the space-time continuum, which causes the game's odd weather and eventual storm. So, to prevent this (assuming you don't choose to save Chloe), Max has to travel back to before she used rewind and then, well, not rewind, letting Chloe die. Heck, even Chloe's last name (Price) hints at her fate, as she's the price you pay for saving the town.
Some fans argue this idea, stating the storm was coming even when Chloe dies after being shot by Jefferson in Episode 4, and they may be right—perhaps it's not Chloe's death that stops the storm, but Max's refusal to mess with time. If she thought about it, Max might have been able to travel back, then protect Chloe without rewind (just jump Nathan or something), saving both her and the town.
2. Nathan Killed Chloe by Accident
Shoot, (wait, poor choice of words), if our first theory is true, Chloe possibly didn't have to die to save the town after all. If that weren't tragic enough, try this—Nathan likely didn't mean to kill her. Think about it. He's never intentionally killed anyone (his overdose on Rachel was an accident), he seems to immediately regret his shot after he fires, and the medicine we see he takes (Risperidone) is known to cause twitches as a side effect.
I'm not trying to say Nathan is a sympathetic character—he still threatened, drugged, and accidentally killed numerous women, but his murder of Chloe was more likely than not unintentional. Seriously Max, just save Chloe without rewind!
3. The Doe Represents Rachel
Max often sees a mysterious doe (a female deer) throughout her travels. Custodian Samuel believes it represents her spirit animal, which may be true, but it also symbolizes Rachel Amber's spirit, the girl who has been missing (and is later confirmed to be deceased). The doe isn't affected by Max's rewind, and it doesn't show up in pictures she takes, suggesting its otherwordly nature.
In prequel game Life is Strange: Before the Storm, we see Rachel's Native American earrings, connecting her with nature, and in the main game, the doe initially appears in the location where Rachel's body is buried. School security guard David also has a mounted deer head decoration, showing he's "hunting" the truth about Rachel's disappearance. These ideas were actually confirmed by the game's developers: the doe is indeed Rachel, and her appearance in Episode 4 shows her "moving on" after her body has been discovered.
4. Warren Is Much Darker Than We Thought
Depending on your choices, science-buff Warren can either serve as Max's love interest or close friend, and he's generally a likable and kind character, something I believe holds true even with the following revelations. Still, keen players may notice hints that Warren is more unstable than previously thought.
For instance, you can catch him staring into Max's dorm window at the start of Episode 2, and he has surprisingly favorable opinions of bloody and smut-filled films Cannibal Holocaust and Ultravixens (though perhaps it's simple amusement at their poor production values). More than that, Max's surprise after seeing his photo of them indicates she may not have been aware of it; combined with his statement of image editing skills, he likely Photoshopped them together. Finally, if you don't stop him, he inflicts a brutal beatdown on Nathan, though you could argue he had it coming considering his attack on Warren earlier in the game.
5. Samuel is a Time-Traveling Version of Jefferson
Fans love Samuel, the odd but surprisingly insightful Blackwell janitor. However, it's strange just how much he knows about Max; many of his statements suggest he's aware of her time powers. And in Before the Storm, he accurately assesses Eliot's inner turmoil and Chloe's insecurities, ominously stating "You are lonely and afraid", despite probably not knowing either very well.
But what does this have to do with psycho Mr. Jefferson? Well, keep in mind that a few of Jefferson's comments also reference time, and the two characters bear some physical resemblances; Samuel could be an older version of Jefferson. But most interestingly, examining Samuel's storage room reveals an even stranger side to him, as you find a women's scarf, fashion magazines, and (most condemning), pictures of Rachel. That would likely get most faculty fired in real life.
Some fans believe that Max's frequent time reversals in the Dark Room scenes of Episode 5 distorted time and somehow created Samuel as a warped version of Jefferson, which could explain his knowledge of Max and interest in Rachel. Whether or not this you adopt this theory, something's definitely up with Samuel considering those pictures, and he and Jefferson are interesting parallels. Samuel is an outcast, but wise and kind; Jefferson is adored, but actually nefarious.
What do you think of Life is Strange?
Life is Strange 2
LiS remains one of my all-time favorites games with its deep symbolism, intriguing plot, and well-written characters, and the numerous ending discussions among fans show just how invested everyone is with Arcadia Bay. With a prequel and now sequel release, we'll undoubtedly return to discuss the inevitable theories of Life is Strange 2, but until then, I'll see you at our next gaming review!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill