So I finished Life is Strange the other night and I have a lot of feelings. Proceed with caution because this one will be super mega spoilery! If you’re curious about the game itself to see if you might want to play it (and you should!), check out my review of episodes 1-4, which are spoiler-free.
I joined the Life is Strange train a little late, so I didn’t have to wait between any of the first four episodes. I did, however, have to wait about a month for episode 5. And considering episode 4 left off with Mr. Jefferson shooting Chloe in the head and then injecting Max with something that made her pass out, that was KIND OF A HARD WAIT.
When this episode begins, everything is terrible. We’re in the whole Girl with a Dragon Tattoo-esque room of creepiness, or the Dark Room as is its game name, where Jefferson drugs his female students and takes photos of them when they are at their most vulnerable. Ickkkkkkkk. Chloe is clearly dead by now. Even Victoria has been taken and is drugged and tied up next to Max, who’s strapped to a chair. Through a series of flashbacks to earlier in the night, Jefferson reveals his intentions, along with the fact that Nathan Prescott accidentally killed Rachel to prove himself to his father figure Jefferson. Either way, Nathan is dead and Max and Victoria are next.The body count is already high. Max is desperate to escape through her polaroids and set things right.
And so begins the most timey wimey wonky alternative universe insanity in the world. Max is just so desperate to fix everything and, most importantly, save Chloe. But in every alternate world she tries to fix, something goes wrong. Either Chloe is still dead or Victoria is already dead or Jefferson still kidnapped her or everything is awesome, but then Chloe is trapped in the tornado. The worst part is having to relive Jefferson’s class over and over again. Especially after knowing what he’s done. She tries to get sassy with him in one alternate world and make him feel awkward about what he’s done, but it just makes her look crazy. Bummer. No world seems to be quite right and the more Max weaves her worlds together and plays god, the more terrible everything seems to become.
Until she’s finally in a world that has Chloe alive and Jefferson arrested. (When she and Max reunite through Warren’s photo…man was I crying!) Unfortunately, her actions here are still not enough to stop the looming apocalypse storm. And the main cause? Max messing with time. So, great, now everything is fine, but a giant tornado is going to destroy Arcadia Bay.
Before we can reach the top of the hill to get to the lighthouse with Chloe, we’re thrust into a series of nightmares. This is where it gets super Twin Peaks/Black Lodge-y again. There’s even a room where everyone speaks backwards! This was probably the only moment where I was actually like, Yay! Instead of tears pouring down my face or being insanely creeped out/horrified by Jefferson. Even the room of a million dorm rooms is very similar to Dale Cooper searching for people through the red curtains…
The most challenging part for me was trying to navigate through the gallery with Jefferson’s flashlight beam finding you every few seconds. I am TERRIBLE at being sneaky. This is why I am bad at things like Metal Gear. I am a guns-a-blazin’ type of gamer, dammit. And every time stupid Jefferson caught me with a “MAX!”, I jumped 834 feet in the air. Eventually I made it through and then was forced to endure reliving all the happy, fun, cute memories Max and Chloe shared over the last week.
And if I wasn’t emotional enough, when Max finally returns to Chloe – to reality – she has to make a choice. Chloe reasons that Max saving her life the first time in the bathroom was what triggered her rewind power and the coming storm. Plus, the main reason Max manipulated time was all for Chloe. Not to mention the fact that Chloe just keeps dying, over and over again in several scenarios. (Good thing she doesn’t know about the junkyard, eh? Heh.) And if Max just finally lets her die and doesn’t use her powers, Max could save Arcadia Bay. As though her death is meant to be. And the whole week they spent together was not.
So, then the screen is all: SAVE ARCADIA BAY / SAVE CHLOE.
How about this instead:
I thought a lot about it and after reliving all the memories with Chloe (I see what you did there, asshole game), I just couldn’t let her die. I spent 5 episodes of this game trying my damnedest to save her life and just HANG OUT WITH MY BEST FRIEND AGAIN. GOD. And Chloe is my favorite character, so…I just couldn’t. Basically, suck it, Arcadia Bay. Now Chloe and Max can run off to another city and have adventures together. And probably fall in love because that’s probably a thing.
As a sidenote, I watched the other ending to see if I made the correct choice. And you’re goddamn right I did! Seeing the photographs erase my happy memories with Chloe to FUNERALS and comforting Chloe’s mom about her death? No thanks. I’ll take a life on the road with my best friend.
PS: Dream Max is a DICK.