WARNING: The following content will contain massive spoilers regarding the ending of Life is Strange Episode 5.
Life is Strange was arguably one of the most impactful games during all of 2015, and its story is a major reason why, as is the element of player choice. For those who have experienced Life is Strange, you are well aware of the types of decisions, both small and large, you had to make from Episode 1 all the way through Episode 5. DONTNOD Entertainment did a fantastic job of handing the game’s biggest moments to the player, and as a result, created some unforgettable memories.
The final episode of Life is Strange ended with gamers having to choose for Max whether or not she would save her best friend and love interest Chloe or the town of Arcadia Bay. It was a decision that struck many people differently, and as Life is Strange’s Co-Game Director Michel Koch told byteclay.com, it turned out as they intended.
“It was about 55 percent saved Arcadia Bay and 45 saving Chloe. That’s really cool because that was our intentions. There was no right or wrong ending. There’s only the ending that a player chooses as the right ending. We were not trying to make a judgment. For me, it’s not better to do one or the other, it really depends on how you connected with the characters. It’s really up to you to make this final decision. Often I have the question, what is the canon ending? The canon ending is the one you choose,” Koch said.
Allowing gamers to make choices for themselves and in a sense, enabling them to create the world they wanted to experience is part of what has made this game so revered. Life is Strange explore so many different themes and topics from start to finish, and really, not many other games showed the type of courage and boldness that this game showed.
DONTNOD Entertainment deciding to make the game’s final decision between Chloe and Arcadia Bay did stir up some debate among fans as to how that should have been handled. Personally, this game was always about Max and Chloe and the ending decision reflected that, however, many people thought there should have been more choices or that the choices should have been different.
“I completely understand those critics. It’s something we thought a lot about. It was a decision we made very early in making the story. We knew we wanted to end with this final choice, where there are two outcomes. This is the coming of age story of Max and the rewind is a metaphor to show you should stop trying to fix everything, stop trying to have a perfect life, stop trying to look to the past and have regrets of what you did before and just accept that nothing is completely perfect,” Koch said.
Life is Strange is so brilliant in the way it allows people to interpret its story and characters in their own way. When thinking about the game’s choices, there is a lot of room for the gray area, and it is in that gray area where gamers can paint their own picture. It’s in that gray area where gamers can understand the messages from Life is Strange on their own.
The rewind is a metaphor to show you should stop trying to fix everything, stop trying to have a perfect life, stop trying to look to the past and have regrets of what you did before and just accept that nothing is completely perfect.”
DONTNOD was intentional with the way choices were crafted in the story. From the very beginning, the developers saw a gradual build for all of these different decisions and saw the game’s crescendo in that final choice.
“We wanted everything to converge on this moment where every decision you made in the game before helps make the final choice meaningful. Without them, it would’ve made the final choice more random. Even if [past choices] don’t change what we show in the game, every choice you made before changed the way you perceived the world. I’m pretty sure that the 45 percent of people who chose to save Chloe wouldn’t have if they didn’t make all of the previous choices,” Koch said.
This is an interesting example of how game developers can use psychology as a way of leading players. Even though your actions don’t necessarily change the ending, they are still your actions and Life is Strange did a magnificent job of placing meaning and value behind each of them.
Depending on whether you chose to save Arcadia Bay or Chloe, you were given a glimpse into the aftermath of that choice. Some people wanted more context provided for what happened to Chloe and Max, but the unknown and unsaid was far more appropriate in the eyes of DONTNOD, compared to actually painting a picture of what happened next.
“For people who were wanting an Epilogue for Max and Chloe, we thought about that, maybe we could show vignettes of what happened, where Max and Chloe went next or what happened to them two years after. We thought if we did that [though], we would somehow [be] stealing the freewill of the player of creating their own version of Max. I’m really a big fan of open-ended endings,” Koch said.
Fans of the franchise hope to see another installment of Life is Strange, though it’s difficult to imagine what that would look like right now. Until we hear what’s next for the series, the first season of Life is Strange is available now on PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360, and I highly recommend you experience it if you haven’t already.