This piece contains spoilers for the first Life is Strange game.
Since its release six years ago, I have played Life is Strange at least once every year. Maybe it’s because I love to punish myself by going through the emotional rollercoaster, to ground myself, or maybe because the Life is Strange series is so compelling, I can’t help coming back to it. Either way Chloe and Max’s story is one that I’ll never forget.
Having recently finished this year’s playthrough, I can’t stop thinking about an exchange between William and Chloe in Max’s flashback scene. After finding a picture of herself and Chloe when they were younger, Max then finds herself in the picture as her younger self, posing for the picture, confused.
In the flashback, we are introduced to William, Chloe’s dad, who we know passed away by the time the game begins. In this sequence, you play as young Max trying to prevent William from leaving the house and getting in his car, which we know will lead to his death.
Max tries hiding his keys, but William eventually takes them from her and heads for the door, discussing dinner plans with Chloe. As he nears the door he asks, “Max you’ll be here too, right?” Chloe shouts back from the kitchen, “She’s never leaving me!” William gets to the door and replies, “That makes all of us”.
Why did this stick with me? Probably because of the weight of that line: “That makes all of us”. As you’ll know by the time you finish the game, everyone in Chloe’s life leaves her in one way, shape or form, and the irony of this flashback line makes the game devastating for me.
Let’s consider it: William dying in the car crash was the catalyst in this domino effect of pain in Chloe’s life. When he passed away, Chloe tried to turn to her childhood friend, Max. However, soon after her dad’s passing, Max left Arcadia Bay, leaving Chloe to deal with her grief alone.
Although Joyce, Chloe’s mother, doesn’t physically leave, after the death of her husband, the mother daughter relationship fell apart. Chloe feels betrayed by Joyce because Joyce remarries. Chloe feels like she’s alone in her grief for her dad.
Then there is Rachel. The girl who went missing. The girl who saved Chloe when she felt like she was unravelling. I think it’s safe to say that Chloe loved Rachel: they planned to leave Arcadia Bay together and have a fresh start. But as Chloe was finally feeling content, her happiness was once again snatched from her. And she was all alone again.
The weight of this quick exchange contains so much. As I thought about the people in Chloe’s life, one thing was certain, they didn’t leave because they wanted to. it was out of their control, William died in a car accident, Max’ family were moving away, and Rachel was kidnapped and killed. It’s safe to say most of them couldn’t help the situations they were in.
But as I thought about this scene more and more, it made me realise how much Chloe was and still is loved. She is never alone. When playing the game, I focused on the negative: Max left her, Joyce remarried, and Rachel was missing. But whenever someone leaves Chloe’s life, someone else appears.
Even during exchanges between Max and Joyce, all they ever speak about is Chloe and how much Joyce she loves and wants the best for her. The flashback exchange made me realise that Chloe is loved. I mean, Max does sacrifice Arcadia Bay to keep Chloe alive. That’s got to mean something right?
Unless you picked the other option. Then, well, you abandoned Chloe too.