Video Game / Life is Strange

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It's time to be an everyday hero.

"I love that you're my partner in crime."
"As long as you're my partner in time."

Life is Strange is a 2015 Episodic Adventure Game, and is the second game by DONTNOD Entertainment. Their previous work was Remember Me, and Square Enix took up publishing duties from Capcom for this one.

Maxine "Max" Caulfield (Hannah Telle) is an 18-year-old high school senior who just recently moved back to her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, after an absence of five years. When she sees a girl get shot by a fellow student, Max discovers she can rewind time, allowing her to change what happened and save the girl. The girl is later revealed to be Chloe Price (Ashly Burch), Max's former best friend, and the two have a rather strange but heartfelt reunion.

As Chloe and Max try to patch their rusted friendship (and figure out how the other has changed in their mutual absence), Max learns of Rachel Amber, a beautiful former Blackwell student who disappeared six months ago under mysterious circumstances after meeting someone who allegedly "changed her life". Chloe, who had formed a kinship with Rachel after Chloe's father died and Max moved away, is desperate to find her. In an effort to try and reconnect with her old friend, Max decides to help Chloe look for Rachel. At the same time, Chloe and Max try to investigate the ramifications of Max's new power, spurred by Max's recurring visions of a tornado wiping out the town in four days.

This new power comes in handy with the other major difficulty in Max's life: Arcadia Bay. Coming back after five years of total absence is difficult enough, but Max is enrolled at elite high school Blackwell Academy on a scholarship, studying photography. The town and school are filled with a diverse cast of characters, all of whom have their own secrets and agendas. Max must not only do her best to help Chloe find the missing Rachel (whom everybody seems to know) — she must navigate the treacherous waters of personal relationships with the people around her, and not all of them have good intentions at heart.

Focusing primarily on the relationship between Max and Chloe as the world goes wrong around them, Life is Strange is an emotional, story-driven game that offers a twist on the typical adventure game: Max's ability to rewind time. This power allows her (and thus the player) to explore the immediate outcome of choices and dialog options, then rewind to test other possibilities, even creating new ones using information gained from previous interactions. It creates an interesting in-universe form of Save Scumming for our heroine. Max must make choices that will deeply affect herself and those around her, and seemingly small or insignificant decisions can have a huge impact down the line. With time running out and the tornado looming, will Max's choices save Arcadia Bay, or doom it?

Season one consists of five episodes, which were released roughly 8 weeks apart throughout 2015. It is available for download on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox ONE, Mac, Linux, and PC (the last three through Steam), and you can download the entire first episode for free to try it out if you're on the fence. It's available for disc retail (with an optional limited edition) only on PlayStation 4, Xbox ONE, and PC. The limited edition featured the game's licensed soundtrack on CD, a 32-page art book in the style of Max's journal, and a director's commentary which was released to all players. You can find launch trailers, developer videos, and other such context at the official Youtube channel.

Similarities to another indie adventure game taking place in Oregon and featuring a relationship between two women as the focus have been noted, but according to the dev team are simply coincidental, as Life is Strange was in development long before Gone Home was released. DONTNOD actually talked to the Gone Home dev team to get some tips on things like building a realistic world, music licensing, and other shared aspects. Other works with noted similarities, in tone or plot, are Heavy Rain and Twin Peaks.

In late 2016, Legendary Pictures obtained the screen license, and they've announced their plans to create a live-action digital series based on the game. Further details are forthcoming.

In late May 2017, DONTNOD announced that a new Life is Strange game was in production, by the original team. During E3 of that year, yet another game in the form of a three-episode prequel (made by Deck Nine instead of DONTNOD) entitled Life is Strange: Before the Storm was announced, with the first episode being released at the end of August 2017 and the release schedule for the other two unconfirmed.

No relation to the film Love is Strange, but yes relation to the visual novel Love is Strange, which is a fan game for Life is Strange.

Character tropes go on to the Characters Sheet.

BEWARE! Due to the choice-based nature of the game, there may be spoilers even if you've played or haven't through all the episodes. Proceed with caution!

Tropes found in this game:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: The Prescott barn is kept locked on the outside, but the side door is blocked only by two thin sheets of rusted metal that Max easily moves.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Max finds Victoria's "go fuck your selfie" line to be mean, but funny.
  • Adults Are Useless: None of the adults in this game seem particularly helpful.
    • Principal Wells is almost guaranteed not to believe Max in any situation. If you tell him about Nathan Prescott having a gun in the bathroom, Wells will cite Nathan's family and status as an honor-roll student as reasons why this is unlikely. The worst he does is call him to the office. The action also backfires on Max, as he'll then contact her parents and accuse her of "telling tall tales". If you try to report David Madsen before class in Episode 2, Wells always finds an excuse to not trust what Max says no matter what choices the player has made. The only time he's remotely helpful is in the aftermath of Kate's suicide. Depending on your previous choices, he can be convinced to suspend Nathan on suspicion of drugging Kate and recording the salacious video of her, suspend Madsen for antagonizing Kate (but only if you have proof), or lightly punish Mr. Jefferson for Victim Blaming Kate. Chloe picks up on this, deriding him as a drunk more concerned with the school's bottom line. In Nathan's case, Wells is being pressured by his rich father, to the point that Nathan's records are outright falsified.
    • The local security guard, David Madsen, is outright antagonistic to Max and Kate, though he's at least shown intervening in the fight between Nathan and Warren after Chloe takes off with Max. He can be seen grilling Nathan in Episode 2. He does seem to mean well, it's just that he has trouble separating his prior military from civilian life. He ultimately turns out to be a subversion: David is actually the only authority figure investigating Rachel's disappearance and he's the key to defeating the villain.
    • Mr. Jefferson is a nice guy in Episode 1, but when confronted with cruel gossip about a student in Episode 2, he resorts to Victim Blaming. He also turns out to be the Big Bad all along and murders Chloe upon his reveal. It's likely he willfully invoked this trope to manipulate Kate and clean up a possible loose end.
    • Ms. Grant is also shown to be nice, but the extent of her help so far is a petition to stop Madsen from putting up security cameras. If Max signs the petition, it will pass.
  • Agree to Disagree: Victoria will note to Max that it appears the two of them just aren't meant to be friends. Max can in turn point that it might be the case, but it doesn't mean they have to be enemies. If Max has been nice to Victoria, she will agree with this.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: During Max's Nightmare Sequence near the end, a lot of places are "revisited" while trying to escape from it. They include Jefferson's classroom, the girls' dormitory hall, the school, the swimming pool lockers, the junkyard, Chloe's house, the Dark Room, the Two Whales Diner and a lot of Max and Chloe's moments that happened during the game.
  • Alone with the Psycho: At the end of Episode 4 Max winds up alone with Jefferson in the Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere. She manages to alert David via time travel who then comes to her rescue.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • The game takes place in present-day Arcadia Bay, about five years after Chloe's father, William, died in a car accident. However, if he hadn't, things would be much different. He and Joyce would still be married, David Madsen becomes a bus driver, Max would be part of the popular clique at Blackwell, and she'd be semi-sorta popular for a photo contest. Unfortunately in this timeline, Chloe ended up in a car accident instead and has been paralyzed from it. Also, Rachel still goes missing. In Episode 5, it's revealed that each of her time jumps creates a new universe where something different happens.
    • By all technicality, the entire course of the game takes place in an alternate reality in which Chloe does not die in the bathroom in Episode 1. Choosing the "Sacrifice Chloe" ending brings back the "real" timeline in which she did die.
  • Always Save the Girl: Potentially your mindset at the end when choosing to save Chloe over Arcadia Bay.
  • And Some Other Stuff: Averted. Episode 3 offers the combination of sodium chlorate (weed killer), sugar, and a soda can to make an improvised pipe bomb. The first two do produce a violent chemical reaction with an ignition source, though it's doubtful a mere soda can and duct tape would serve as an effective container to make a bomb with.
  • And This Is For...: In Episode 4, when you let Warren beat up Nathan, he does so in such a fashion.
    Warren: You like to hurt people, huh? <kicks Nathan in the gut> Like Max? <kick> Like Kate? <kick> Like me? <kick> Feel this, motherfucker!
  • Animal Motif:
    • There's a lot of birds featured in the game. You can take photographs of birds, they are frequently seen sitting around and in Episode 1 you can save one of them from flying against a window. If you look closely at the sky at some parts of the game, you can see flocks of birds flying erratically in the distance. They might even have some connection to time, since in Episode 2 when Kate is on the roof and Max stops time, birds are everywhere. In Episode 3, one of the phenomena happening is birds falling dead from the sky. You could argue that they might be a symbol for life and death.
    • Does. Max sports at least two shirts with a doe on it. Then there is The Marvelous Deer that occasionally pops up to guide her. Word of God confirmed that this doe is Rachel's presence. Note that the spot where it appears in the junkyard is exactly where Rachel was buried.
    • Butterflies are associated with Chloe. The butterfly we see early on is blue like Chloe's hair and in the funeral ending the butterfly lands on Chloe's coffin. Also, Chloe has a butterfly tattoo.
      • The butterflies could also be representations of the butterfly effect: the scientific concept that a small change in the beginning can have a large effect later down the line. This is commonly associated with time travel; if you mess with the past, you will change the future.
    • Whales show up in the theme of the diner Joyce works at, and the numerous beached whales in the alternate timeline at the end of Episode 3 as well as both timelines in Episode 4.
    • Samuel tells Max his spirit animal is a squirrel. Looking in Samuel's shed, you see that he likes to collect things.
    • Dogs for Frank. He has a beloved pet and it's a good clue that despite all his figurative growling and biting, he's loyal and a bit more complex than you'd expect from a abrasive drug dealer.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Each episode has ten collectible photographs. If you fail to get all ten in one playthrough, the chapter select tells you how many are in each chapter and offers a handy "Collectible Mode" that runs the chapter independent of your save file, allowing you to mess around to your heart's content. A patch just prior to Episode 5 enabled this feature to be used with any chapter, not just those with photographs.
    • Though the game doesn't let you skip cutscenes or dialogue normally, you are allowed to do so if you've already seen them after a rewind, or if you replay that chapter in Collectible Mode.
    • Objects that Max can take a closer look at (like posters and books) are recorded in Max's journal, and can be re-examined at any time in any episode.
    • In Episode 2, during the bottle Fetch Quest at the junkyard, going long enough without finding a bottle causes Max to voice a hint as to where one might be. The hidden bonfire bottle is rather infamously difficult to find in spite of this, being nestled between two cars and pretty hard to spot, which isn't helped by Max's hint being fairly vague. A patch added more clues to make this even less frustrating.
    • If you're being really dense during some of the puzzles, after a few minutes Max will gently remind you that she can rewind time.
    • During the Nightmare Sequence in Episode 5, Max is locked in the bathroom of the Two Whales Diner by a keypad. Once you fail the combination once, all the walls are covered in numbers, any one of which could be the right one. If you wait a bit, Max will give you a hint on how none of the numbers appear in the mirror.
    • A patch eventually added a feature to the focus minigame where if you take too long to complete the minigame, a notification will appear telling you to press a certain button to autocomplete the focus.
    • When searching for hints to unlock Nathan's phone, after three tries it'll ask for the phone's PUK code, which is more conveniently found on his SIM card package.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • Spirals/vortices. Examples include the icon for Max's powers, the Vortex Club and their posters, and the tornado. Not to mention the swarm of ants beside the Two Whales in Episode 3. Even Max herself points out how ominous it seems. INDEED.
    • Cameras and photography. Even characters not associated with photography are seen with cameras, like David. Several photography references show up in the game, including one of the episode titles and of all the pictures you can take for achievements/trophies. In Episode 4, it's revealed that Mr. Jefferson has been running a covert photography operation involving drugged women.
    • The butterfly, referencing Chaos Theory (aka Butterfly Effect) created through time travel. Max sees one shortly before she discovers her ability. Consequently, butterflies in the game symbolize an upcoming decision point. It's also associated with Chloe, given that it's blue and it first appears when Max first sees her. If you choose to sacrifice Chloe in the game's finale, it lands on Chloe's coffin, which somehow comforts Max.
    • Does. Two of Max's outfits have a doe on them, Chloe's snowglobe has a doe inside of it, and she runs into a phantom doe at a few points in the game.
  • Artistic License Chemistry: In Episode 2, Warren's science experiment is correctly completed by adding chlorine. At room temperature, pure chlorine is technically a chemical weapon. It's likely meant to be a chlorine compound (e.g. sodium chloride, hypochlorous acid, etc.).
  • Artistic License Geology: A vortex that builds up over water is not called a tornado while over water but a waterspout. Once the waterspout makes landfall though, it can be called a tornado. Additionally, tornadoes don't stay in one place but move in an approximate straight line. Thirdly, given the size of the tornado, Arcadia Bay would have been utterly destroyed with buildings completely removed from their foundations.
  • Artistic License Physics:
    • The game uses chaos theory as a rough explanation as for why Max's powers are causing disasters, but chaos theory only deals with the behavior of a system which can have radically different outcomes based on the initial conditions. In this situation, chaos theory would only apply to the changes that result from the choices Max makes, and would not explain phenomenon that are strange and/or outright impossible.
    • The creators admitted that tearing Polaroids apart like Max does twice in the movie is not possible, but they put it in for dramatic effect.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • In Episode 5, Max receives a text from Jefferson reading "How hard is it to turn in one fucking selfie?" during the backwards sequence, referencing the "I told you to hand in your fucking photo" meme that appeared after Episode 4's ending.
    • The bottle hunting sequence from Episode 2 became so notorious for its difficulty and pointlessness that in Episode 5, Max's nightmare sequence includes a large amount of bottles which, when picked up, will elicit an appropriately snarky response from her.
  • Attempted Rape: Possibly. Nathan drugged Chloe and took photographs of her while she was unconscious. Fortunately, she awoke and managed to fight back and escape before he got around to doing anything really nasty. Kate, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky, which resulted in a scandal when she was recorded doing it. Episode 5 states outright that though Jefferson and Nathan drugged, kidnapped and took creepy photos of a number of girls, none of them were in fact sexually assaulted. However, as both Kate's and Max's reactions show, the difference is largely academic.
  • Axes at School: Nathan pulls a gun on Chloe for trying to extort him early in the game, and shoots Chloe with it when they get in a struggle. Luckily, Max is there to undo things. Or not, in the Sacrifice Chloe ending, but Nathan does get caught and punished.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti:
    • Once Max enters the girls bathroom, we see "Rachel Amber is a bitch!" written on one of the stall doors. In the little space next to the stalls where Max can hide, someone has written "I hate Victoria Chase!". Odds are pretty good Victoria wrote the former. Several other locations have similarly derogatory graffiti; apparently the venue for Rachel hate is limited to wall-tagging.
    • The Two Whales diner bathroom also has some. Or way too many.
    • More can be seen inside the pool building changing rooms/bathrooms in Episode 3.
    • A particularly nasty example appears in the Two Whales' bathroom if you saved Kate in Episode 2: "KATE MARSH SHOULD HAVE JUMPED". Max is rightfully disgusted.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: While taking a shower in Episode 2, Max will overhear Victoria and Taylor gossiping about her and Kate.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The greatest concentration of beauties makes up the Vortex Club. Rachel Amber deserves special mention because no matter what her contemporaries think of her personality, everyone agress that she's drop-dead gorgeous.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: In Episode 5 Max finally tells Warren about her powers and he immediately begins theorizing about them causing the storm. If you choose the option to ask "You believe me?" he says he does because of this trope.
    Warren: ...and you've always treated me like a person, not... not a beta nerd. I told you before that I'll always believe you.
  • Behind the Black:
    • The game starts with Max's very first tornado vision. Said tornado is in plain sight for most of the segment, yet Max doesn't comment on or even consciously notice it until she's literally standing at the edge of the cliff overlooking the town and its coastline.
    • Early on in Episode 3, Chloe does a Jump Scare on Max in front of the school building. However, the place was empty when Max gets there and there was nothing for Chloe to hide behind to surprise Max from.
  • The Big Bad Shuffle: At least three characters are presented as candidates for being the Big Bad of the story.
    • David's paranoia and rudeness towards Kate make him look suspicious. However, he turns out to be a misunderstood Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Frank is shown wearing Rachel's bracelet which immediately makes him a prime suspect. However, the bracelet turns out to be a gift from Rachel who was dating him. This leaves Frank as an unintentional accessory through his drug dealing.
    • Nathan seem to be the most evident suspect of Rachel's disappearance due to his reckless gun usage on Chloe as well as Kate's testimony about the drugging incident at the Vortex Club party. However, as revealed in Episode 4, Nathan is only The Dragon to Mr. Jefferson who manipulated Nathan.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Episode 3. Max discovers a new power that allows her to save Chloe's dad, thus not having Joyce marry David and Chloe not be in her situation. However, the ending shot is a now-quadriplegic Chloe confined to a motorized wheelchair and with a ventilator, who is nevertheless happy to see Max. Episode 4 lets the air out of that by revealing that Chloe's treatment is driving her family to bankruptcy, and the nature of her injury means she is going to die soon anyway. Then she leaves it to Max to decide to euthanize her or not.
    • The game as a whole:
      • The "Sacrifice Chloe" ending. At Chloe's urging, Max uses the butterfly photo to travel back to the start of the game and allows Nathan to kill Chloe, preventing Max's powers from manifesting and preventing the tornado from ever happening. Chloe dies, her murder leads to Jefferson and Nathan getting arrested, Kate, Victoria, and Frank survive regardless of what happened to them during the game, and the tornado never happens.
      • The "Sacrifice Arcadia Bay" ending. Max refuses to kill Chloe to save Arcadia Bay and tears up the butterfly photo. The town is destroyed, with the implication that a good number (if not a all) of its inhabitants are dead, but Max and Chloe survive and are together.
  • Black Bug Room: The Nightmare Sequence during Episode 5, where Max has to directly confront all of her subconscious fears.
  • Blatant Lies: Victora claims that she only posted the video of Kate because she got drunk and did it as a joke, vut in Episode 2, a quite clearly sober Victoria writes the link to the video on the mirror of the girls bathroom, meaning she lied to Max's face.
  • Body Horror: While exploring The Dark Room in Episode 4, you see an anime style poster of a young girl tearing her throat out with tentacles ripping out of the wound.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Used to codify the villainy of both Nathan and Jefferson since they tie up the girls that they drug, kidnap, and then photograph.
  • Book Ends:
    • The game begins and ends in the lighthouse, moments before the tornado destroys Arcadia Bay.
    • Both Episodes 1 and 5 end with Max and Chloe witnessing a phenomenon created by Max's powers with Syd Matters' Obstacles playing if you choose to Sacrifice Arcadia Bay.
    • The blue butterfly that signalled Chloe's first appearance in Episode 1 also lands on her coffin in the Sacrifice Chloe ending, signalling her last appearance.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 3 is noticeably slower and more low-key than the first two episodes, especially after the whirlwind of drama that was the end of the second episode. That is, until the ending.
  • Brick Joke:
    • If you examine Chloe's truck in the parking lot, Max will comment on her poor parking job. Later on, if you look in Chloe's trash, you'll see that she's racked up a number of parking tickets. A parking ticket is also one of the four items in Episode 2 that you have to guess to prove your power to Chloe.
    • In the main school building, you can see a poster asking about a backpack and a tablet with pictures of dead cats. A small post-it note on another board indicates that the thief is attempting to sell the tablet. Around when you first go to the Vortex Club party you can hear Stella say to someone that she didn't find a tablet with cat pictures. An apology note from the tablet's thief can be found in Episode 5, as Max navigates the street while attempting to get to the Two Whales diner.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • When you need to talk down Kate from committing suicide near the end of Episode 2, Max has overtaxed her powers and can't rewind, meaning you only get the one go at it (Save Scumming notwithstanding).
    • At the ending of Episode 4, Max gets sedated and cannot sustain her rewind powers, leaving her to helplessly watch as Chloe is shot in the head.
  • Burning the Ships:
    • In Episode 4, Max burns the photograph she had used to change history in the previous episode, making sure she isn't tempted to do it again.
    • Happens in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending, where Max rips up the butterfly photo and lets it fly into the wind.
    • Also happens in the Sacrifice Chloe ending; by not intervening, Max created a timeline where her powers never manifested, and therefore she cannot change her mind.
  • Bury Your Gays: An accidental implication of the endings is this trope. Only in the Sacrifice Chloe ending do Max and Chloe kiss. Word of God is that they thought it was clear in the other ending that they were in love.
  • Bus Crash: Nathan suddenly disappears during Episode 4. In the beginning of Episode 5, when Max asks where is he, Mark Jefferson says "dead and buried", implying that Nathan was Killed Offscreen.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: You spot a beautiful blue butterfly right before Chloe is shot in the bathroom (death) and you save her life (rebirth). Of course, by doing so, Max may have caused greater ramifications. Episode 5 confirms that she has by saving Chloe's life.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Implicitly, Max's continued use of her powers is causing odd weather events and other problems, apparently leading to a tornado destroying the town at the end of the week. This is preceded by snowfall (the game is set in early October during fairly mild weather), an unscheduled eclipse, birds and fish dying, whales beaching themselves in both timelines, and a second moon appearing, which may be from the alternate timeline. Episode 5 confirms this theory - saving Chloe's life is what caused all the crazy stuff to happen, and Max can fix it by letting Chloe die.
  • Butterfly of Transformation: The first episode is titled Chrysalis, and a butterfly icon appears anytime you make a decision that will have consequences, good or bad.
  • But Thou Must! There's one part in the nightmare sequence when Max is forced with four equally horrible things to say to Mr Jefferson and the game won't continue unless you choose one of them. Max even comments, "No way am I saying that!".
  • Catapult Nightmare: At the beginning of Episode 3 Max is seen asleep on her desk and getting startled screaming "Kate".
  • Cel Shading: Each texture in the game is hand-painted to achieve this look.
  • Circling Monologue: Victoria disses Max while circling around her when the latter tries to enter the dormitory.
  • Cliffhanger: The endings of Episodes 3 and 4 are this, especially cruel ones at that.
    • Episode 3: Max went back in time to the day William Price died and saved his life, but in the altered present, Chloe is a quadriplegic due to a car accident.
    • Episode 4: After resetting the timestream back to its previous form, Max and Chloe find Rachel's body buried in the junkyard. When they try to get revenge on Nathan for his apparent responsibility, they're led into a trap where Max is drugged suddenly and Chloe is murdered. The villain is then revealed to be Mark Jefferson, with the teaser insinuating he takes Max to the Dark Room.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: During the Nightmare Sequence, Max is chased by shadowy characters asking her to come out to get captured (Mr Jefferson) or to play (Nathan).
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Kind of. Max's encounter with Nathan in the parking lot in Episode 1 culminates with Chloe driving up and Max jumping in with her to get away from Nathan.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Max, Chloe, and Rachel are all in their late teens. The story deals in some part with Max learning that becoming an adult means dealing with the consequences — good and bad — of her choices.
  • Compartment Shot: Seen when Max finds Frank's gun in the overhead locker of his van.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: The game will try to nudge you into getting on with the story if you take too long looking at objects or otherwise not progressing. For example, both Warren and Chloe will send an additional text to Max if she takes too long getting to them.
  • Controllable Helplessness: After Jefferson captures Max and takes her to the Dark Room, you can move the camera and look around, but there are very few objects you can meaningfully interact with.
  • Covers Always Lie: A minor case. The game's official art (pictured up top) shows Max using her power while holding out her left hand. In the game, she does this with her right hand. Max actually reproduces said image in her journal.
  • Creator Cameo: Christian Divine, one of the game's writers, voices Truss Limpbow in Episode 5.
  • Credits Gag: "To All of You", the first licensed song in the series, plays backwards in Max's nightmare. Naturally, when the credits arrive at the music section, it's spelled backwards.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option:
    • The only way to get Victoria to stop blocking the door to the girls dorm is to ruin her outfit with water and paint, though this is followed by a choice of being kind or cruel about her predicament.
    • In Episode 5, Max has to turn on a sprinkler that will put out the fire that is blocking her way. In the process, a nearby fisherman will get electrocuted and die. While Max can rewind from the other side of the fire to save him and turn on the sprinkler from there, there is no way she can save him without killing him first.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series slowly moves into this territory, starting out as a somewhat lighthearted coming-of-age story with high school drama and a mystery to solve. As the truth behind Rachel's disappearance comes to light, things become less and less light, with Max making harder decisions and the weather events getting steadily worse. By the time we've gotten to Episode 5, the town is on the brink of destruction, and at the end of it all Max has to make quite possibly the worst decision of her life.
  • Darkest Hour: The ending of Episode 4. Chloe is dead, Max has been kidnapped by the Big Bad, and the day the tornado is supposed to strike Arcadia Bay is approaching with Max unable to do anything to stop it.
  • Death Is Cheap: Played straight most of the time, but subverted in three occasions. Chloe dies on multiple occasions: shot by Nathan, shot herself while doing trick shots, ran over by a train, either euthanized or die of respiratory system failure in the alternate timeline and finally shot by Mr. Jefferson. Max uses her powers to reverse all but the last one. Her powers fail when Kate tries to kill herself and she has to save her without them. Finally, she manages to save William, but the consequences are so bad she decides to undo it. Also subverted with the revelation that Chloe's not dying creates the massive weather disturbances and tornado that eventually destroys Arcadia Bay - in this case, death prevents a disaster.
  • Decided by One Vote: The success of Ms. Grant's petition to stop David Madsen from installing security cameras hinges on Max's participation.
  • Deconstruction: Of being a superhero. Max's storyline is similar to a Superhero Origin, what with the sudden gaining of superpowers and using them to help people and prevent an impending disaster, but saving people is not as easy or simple as "punch out the villain".
  • Defiled Forever: Because of her fundamentalist Christian beliefs, Kate has begun to think this about herself after being drugged and probably raped at a Vortex Club party. The reactions of her mother and aunt certainly don't help.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • In Episode 2, one of the five bottles in the junkyard is located on a boat which is too tall for Max to climb. To get there, you have to go up the nearby hill and move a large plank to make a bridge. After collecting the bottle, you can rewind this action and trap Max on the boat. Max will comment on how she's just trapped herself, then jump down so the player can keep going.
    • Also in the junkyard, you can find a doe that will move a few meters away from its spot once it sees you. Attempting to rewind it back to that spot will not work and Max will even comment about it. It turns out that this doe is not normal.
    • In Episode 3, when you visit the Blackwell pool with Chloe, she'll let Max choose which locker room to go through. If you pick one, enter it, then rewind and unlock it from the other side, Chloe will call you on using the same trick you used to get into the principal's office.
    • In Episode 4, Max's journal has unique cellphone texts and diary entries in the alternate timeline in Episode 4.
    • In Episode 4, the player is given four long lists of GPS coordinates associated with different license plates, the intent being to find the one associated with Nathan in order to track where he's been. However, one of the other pages is associated Mr. Jefferson's car, and if you compare those coordinates with the places the game says they belong to when you figure out Nathan's whereabouts, they make total sense. In fact, if for some reason you decided to work this out before the ending, you'd probably figure out that he was actually the ringleader.
  • Diabolus ex Machina:
    • In Episode 2, Max's powers go awry right when they would be most useful. In the first instance, Max has a vision, during which Chloe gets her leg caught in the railroad tracks. This resets Max's rewind potential and she can only go back to the moment she left the vision, preventing her from just warning Chloe beforehand. Later, her Psychic Nosebleed kicks in when Kate commits suicide, and though Max is able to rewind enough to get to the roof, her powers are burnt out for the duration of the following conversation, meaning she has to get it right on the first try.
    • In Episode 4, Mr. Jefferson drugs Max before shooting Chloe, which prevents Max from focusing and rewinding it. It wasn't like he knew about Max's power, but he took exactly the action he would have if he did.
    • At the beginning of Episode 5, Max uses her photos to create an alternate timeline where Mr. Jefferson is arrested early and she goes to San Francisco as the winner of the Everyday Heroes contest. However, she forgets about the tornado and goes back to when she took her winning photo, destroying it so she stays to help Chloe. As a consequence, Jefferson somehow finds the torn photo and burns her entire diary with all of her photos in it out of anger for her not turning it in.
    • The whole concept of Max's time travel is arguably this. She got her power, or discovered it, by first using it to save Chloe. This turns out to be the root cause of the strange weather that will ultimately will destroy the town, unless Chloe dies — in which case, if that's what's needed to set things right, why give Max the power in the first place? Why make the impetus for it her saving Chloe? Why allow her to realize what life is with Chloe, what life can be, and then force her to undo it or watch as her hometown is destroyed? The game's explanation seems to be that, in Chloe's words, "shit just happens." However, if Max had not been able to rewind time, she would never have found out the truth about Rachel Amber, or Nathan, or Jefferson. Chloe points this out herself in the ending.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: On a cosmic level, the universe is really pissed that Max saved Chloe and decides to exact payment for her life (so to speak) by blowing the entire town of Arcadia Bay off the map. All because she saved one person.
  • Distress Call: At the art gallery Max receives a garbled call from Chloe who is stuck by the beach.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Nathan and Jefferson drug girls at parties, take them to an unknown location and do... something to them. It's stated definitely in Episode 5 that the "something" does not strictly speaking involve sexual assault, but the objectification and loss of bodily autonomy still has a very similar emotional impact on victims like Kate and Max.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: In-universe. Max quips that an abstinence poster must drive people to have sex, which isn't that far from the truth.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Episode 2. For anyone unable to save Kate, who will jump to her death after being bullied and victim blamed through the two prior episodes.
    • Episode 4. Rachel is revealed to be long dead, Chloe is killed by Mr. Jefferson, and Max is drugged by him beforehand so she can't rewind it, leaving her at his mercy.
  • Down in the Dumps: American Rust, a junkyard on the outskirts of Arcadia Bay. It used to be one of Chloe and Rachel's secret hiding spots, and Chloe takes Max there to further test out Max's powers after the first test in the diner. It's also where Rachel is buried, and Jefferson uses this fact to lure Max and Chloe into a trap here at the end of Episode 4.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • With Max's time travel powers, this is a given. One of the primary uses for rewind is gathering information through dialog and then going back to appear as if Max already had that information, making her appear more attentive or clever than she may actually be. For instance, when Max questions Juliet in the hallway, Juliet will accuse her of not really caring and ask if Max even knows her last name. Unless you read the dorm map and know the right answer, Max will take a guess. If it's wrong, Juliet will call Max out and correct her, at which point the player can rewind and get it right. Juliet will express surprise at her remembering her name, but odds are Max only knew because she used her powers to learn it.
    • The player knows that there are ominous red binders with Rachel Amber's and Kate's names on them, but there's no way for Max to know that until the fourth episode.
    • Near the end of Episode 3, Max calls out Chloe on her It's All About Me outlook and stop blaming others for her problems. Trying to go to the source of her outlook ends with Chloe paralyzed.
    • "Nobody would even miss your punk ass, would they?!" Said as Max (and potentially the player) weep just out of Nathan and Chloe's sight.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Max's Daydream Surprise in the opening scene of Episode 1 is a premonition of what's gonna happen to Arcadia Bay four days into the future.
  • Dream Intro: The game starts with a scene of Max at night by the lighthouse during the storm which turns out to be a Daydream Surprise she was having in class.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Nearly everyone in Arcadia Bay has some kind of issue.
    • The Price family. When Max meets them again after 5 years after William Price's death, Joyce Price is married to a new husband traumatized by combat who physically and verbally abuses the borderline delinquent Chloe. After Max changes the timeline, William and Joyce are struggling to make ends meet and face the threat of eviction from the expenses of caring for Chloe, who is severely disabled and close to death.
    • The Prescotts. Their corruption spreads back over a century - in their secret barn you can find photos and letters showing they were ruining people's lives right from the beginning. They're running (or at least funding) an illegal photography operation and might have been doing so for a long time. Sean Prescott is a greedy Corrupt Corporate Executive who seems to be trying to take over the whole town, and who willingly withholds help and treatment for his son Nathan's severe mental health issues. Meanwhile Nathan is an aggressive, high-strung Jerk Jock who legally and violently threatens anyone who treads on his toes, appears to carry a gun with him at all times, and, willingly or not, drugs and abducts girls for Mr. Jefferson to use in said illegal photography operation. The only exception out of all of them is Nathan's sister, Kris Prescott, who works in the Peace Corps and seems to be oblivious to everything that's going on in Arcadia Bay.
  • The End Is Nigh: Everyone in Arcadia Bay seems to think so, given the Signs of the End Times (flash snowstorm, the unscheduled eclipse and all those dead birds). Max can even comment that they might be right for once. There's also one particular person you can forewarn about this, and though it's not a major choice it does save her life when the storm finally hits.
  • Enter Stage Window: Chloe and Max leave Chloe's room via her window in order to avoid David.
  • Evil Gloating: Mr Jefferson does this to Max in the Dark Room for the sake of exposure.
  • Evolving Title Screen: Depending on the progress of the active save file, the title screen will reflect the time of day and other conditions. At the end of Episode 4, it depicts the tornado.
  • Experimented in College: Max will mention this trope in her journal if the player chooses the route where she kisses Chloe.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire game takes place over the course of five days. It seems longer because of Max's rewind abilities and the alternate timeline.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: In Episode 4, Warren beats Nathan to a pulp if you let him. It's meant as a revenge for when Nathan beat Warren up in the parking lot and also for his mistreatment of Max and Kate.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • In the confrontation with Frank in Episode 2, rewinding causes Max to try and avoid the confrontation altogether by getting Chloe to leave immediately. However, Frank's already close enough, and Max was out long enough, that there simply isn't enough time to do that.
    • Ultimately, Max can't save everyone. Either she sacrifices Chloe for the town, undoing most of the week and letting her best friend and/or lover die in the bathroom, or she sacrifices Arcadia Bay to keep Chloe alive, killing who-knows-how-many people.
  • Fanservice Faux Fight: While they're in the school pool after hours in Episode 3, Max and Chloe play-fight by splashing one another with water.
  • Fantastic Aesop: The game has a theme of actions having consequences, which it demonstrates in the final act by having the act of saving Chloe's life be directly linked to the tornado which will destroy the town.
  • Feminist Fantasy: You play as a female character who can rewind time and she uses this superpower to help others and catch sexual predators. Also, half of the game's main cast are females who have as much prominence as the males.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • If you look closely at Kate's notes in Jefferson's class at the start of the game, you can see that she's drawn a noose hanging from a tree with a pool of blood below it. An early sign that Kate is suicidal.
    • "Santa Monica Dream" by Angus and Julia Stone plays late in Episode 1. The song's chorus, which begins with "goodbye to my Santa Monica dream" foreshadows that Chloe will never make it to California to live out her dream with Rachel, much less find her alive.
    • While sitting in the diner in Episode 2, Max mentions that she wishes the moment would last forever and that though she could technically keep rewinding, it wouldn't really be a "moment". In the climax of the episode, she manages to completely freeze time by essentially doing a slow, constant rewind.
    • In Episode 2 there is an optional Photo at the Two Whales Diner. The hint in the journal shows the Diner Sign next to the sun, however when taking the picture the sun is blocked by the sign The sign foreshadows 3 of the upcoming anomalies:
      • The sun is blocked: the solar eclipse of ep.2
      • "Two Whales Diner"-Sign: the whales stranding of ep.3
      • "Two Whales Diner"-Sign: the twin moon of ep.4
    • In Episode 1, Max first sees Chloe's truck double parked in a handicapped spot, and in Episode 3, they can choose to steal money from the handicapped fund in the principal's office. By the end of the episode, after Max has altered the timeline so Chloe's father lives, the alternate Chloe is paralyzed from the neck down and in a wheelchair.
    • In Episode 2, the spirit doe appears in the junkyard despite nothing supernatural going on in that area. In Episode 4, Max and Chloe learn that Rachel was buried in the junkyard. The spot where the doe appears is exactly where she was buried.
    • In that same junkyard, there are some syringes that look like they were just used recently. This place is likely where Rachel was overdosed and killed.
    • There are some hints to who has been the Big Bad all along.
      • In Episode 1, Jefferson dismisses a particular philosophy of photography by saying he could easily frame any of the students in a dark room and capture their moment of desperation.
      • Another hint comes from his artwork, which almost exclusively focuses on younger women in vulnerable positions.
      • In Episode 4, you find a note addressed to Nathan telling him to "stop calling (the writer's) name in public". Max guesses that this must be from Nathan's father, but why would Nathan call his father by name?
      • The mere fact that you could blame Mr. Jefferson for Kate's suicide attempt in Episode 2 indicates that that character plays a larger role than the player might think.
      • While the 'Dark Room' functions as a sinister sounding name for what amounts to a torture dungeon, it is also a photography reference, where a darkroom is a workshop for processing light sensitive photographic film.
    • Max first discovers her power in Episode 1, when Nathan shoots Chloe in the stomach. Chloe is wearing a shirt with a skull on it at the time. In Episode 4, Chloe receives a bullet to the skull.
    • When Max is talking to Mr. Jefferson in Episode 2, she tells him that she doesn't want Kate to become "the next Rachel Amber". In Episode 4, we discover that Kate and Rachel were both drugged and nonconsensually photographed in humiliating and sexually suggestive positions.
    • If you look closely at Max's character model during the opening cutscene of Episode 1, when she wakes up during the storm, you can see a tiny little mark on her neck, right where Mr. Jefferson sticks her with a needle in Episode 4, set the night before the vision takes place.
    • In Episode 4, Max mentions Star Trek in her journal. She refers to a moment where having saved a doomed person messed up time in the series - the thing she has to painfully understand in Episode 5.
    • The graffiti littering the environments in the game foreshadow that saving Chloe's life in Episode 1 causes the storm. This includes phrases like "JUST GOTTA LET GO" (which is positioned right behind Chloe when she dances on her bed in Episode 1), "THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU" and "PLEASE JUST KILL ME" written all over the place.
    • During an early scene in Episode 5, Max tears her Everyday Heroes photograph in two with the words "Sorry San Francisco, but Chloe comes first". Choosing to Sacrifice Arcadia Bay has Max repeat this action on the butterfly photograph, making the same statement non verbally.
    • A relatively minor one: At one point, Mr. Jefferson begins to deliver a lecture on Chiaroscuro. When the Big Bad is finally revealed to be Jefferson himself, it's by way of a Face Framed in Shadow thanks to Max dropping her cellphone.
    • One of the few failure screens that shows the immediate consequences of not being fast enough to solve a puzzle is when you prevent Chloe from getting murdered by Nathan in the first episode, where Nathan tries to get Chloe to get up. As it turns out, this was how that encounter was supposed to go from the beginning.
    • Short-term example: Kate being Driven to Suicide at the end the Episode 2 is foreshadowed early on when Max looks at her violin and notes that she stopped playing a week ago. Giving up preferred activities is a warning sign of suicidal ideation.
    • When you put together the clues to find the Dark Room, David's coordinates will reveal that he was following four cars: The first, TWNPKS, is Chloe's truck. The second, SXFTNDR, is Nathan's. The third, TWLGHTZN, belongs to an unknown individual who has a car that strongly resembles Nathan's, and the fourth, TPFTHLK, is Jefferson's, seen at the end of Episode 2. If you pay attention to the coordinates that each car was recorded at, it turns out that Nathan and Jefferson's cars were at the exact same location the night Kate was drugged, the Prescott Farmhouse. This turns out to be the location of the Dark Room, and foreshadow's Jefferson's involvement in the whole thing prior to the twist at the end of the episode.
    • Episode 2 sees Max having to manipulate a lever in order to switch a train onto another track in order to prevent Chloe from being run over. This could be taken as a visual reference to the trolley problem, which asks whether it's more ethical to allow five people to die or to kill one person to save them. The game presents you with this same choice on a much larger scale at the end of Episode 5.
    • Nathans license plate is "SXFTNDR" (Six Feet Under) which is a clue as to what he did to Rachel, and what Mr. Jefferson will do to him..
    • The first thing that the player will actively rewind when Max discovers her powers is accidentally smashing her camera. A short time later, it gets destroyed anyway in a scuffle with Nathan (which Max realises too late to rewind). In the ensuing scene, she tries to fix it (using tools borrowed from David), only to find that it's futile and accepts William's old camera from Chloe. The very next thing you do is save Chloe from being killed in a scuffle with Nathan. You then spend the game saving her from strange accidents, until the beginning of episode 5, where she's killed in circumstances that make it impossible to rewind. You spend the chapter trying to save her (after being rescued by David), only to realise that the only way to save the town is to let her die or let the town be destroyed (leaving her as the only thing Max has left).
  • Forgot About His Powers: In Episode 4, one major choice involves trying to get Frank's customer list. While there are several ways to get it, including killing him, it never occurs to Max to take the list herself, at which point she could rewind and avoid the whole confrontation. Instead, Chloe always takes it.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Episode 3 plays it straight. Near the end of the episode, Max goes far enough back in time to save William Price's life, then returns to the present, where she finds a few things changed — David Madsen is now the bus driver, Max is part of the Vortex Club, and Chloe has become paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.
    • Episode 5 has several instances due to Max's repeated hopping around through photographs, and it turns out the entire game is one - Max saving Chloe's life in the bathroom is what's causing the storm and other environmental catastrophes. This trope is also discussed by Warren and Max at Two Whales.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • A small one in Episode 2. If you take long enough searching for bottles in the junkyard scene, a freight train will rattle by. Quick eyes (or a well-timed rewind) will allow the player to note the engine's number: 1337.
    • Near the end of Episode 4, Chloe receives a text message from Nathan who is looking for her and Max. However if you look closely, the way the message is texted is very different compared to the ones Max received from him. Turns out it is from Jefferson who may already have killed Nathan at that point and used his phone to lure them.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: Nathan and his father are constantly threatening to sue everybody for defamation any time someone says anything they don't like, which indicates that they have a rather large misunderstanding of exactly what defamation is.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: A small-scale example. The Vortex Club was originally founded in The '80s as a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits group meant to counter Blackwell's dominant yuppie culture and offer support to the school's social outcasts. At the time the game is set, about three decades later, they have effectively become the school's new elitist hegemony of cool kids.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-Universe: If Max ignores Kate's call in Episode 2, Chloe says that she'll survive. Taking it automatically clears one of the prompts at the climax. However, if the player ignores it, she very well may not.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Max wakes up at the start of Episode 2, you can see Warren peeking out from behind the corner of the building if you look out the window.
    • In Episode 5, when Max is in San Francisco for the Everyday Heroes exhibit, you can run across a man and woman talking about Mark Jefferson being arrested. The man is played by Jefferson's voice actor Derek Phillips, who is doing the exact same voice he uses for Jefferson.
  • Gallows Humor: Mark Jefferson is a sadistic psychopath with an artist complex, but the guy can turn a clever death-related phrase with the best of them.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In Episodes 3 and 4, the photo focusing minigame glitches out with certain graphics cards, causing the photo to remain in focus constantly. Though it can still be solved, it has to be done by sound alone, which is much more difficult. The developers eventually just added an auto-focus option so players could bypass it.
    • During the Nightmare segment in Episode 5, Max will be pursued by warped versions of people she subconsciously fears and you have to rewind to get around them without being seen. If you happen to rewind too quickly, you'll get caught in a loop where Max will always be seen and you won't be able to rewind far back enough, forcing a restart. This largely occurs if you try to speed up or use the quick rewind.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The contents of Max's diary and texts change at certain points in the story. In Episode 4, thanks to Max creating an Alternate Timeline at the end of Episode 3, the alternate version of her has an entirely different set of texts and barely any journal entries. In Episode 5, Mr. Jefferson burns her journal and thus the only page is charred, which is restored after Max changed history to prevent herself from being kidnapped and save Chloe. Later on, during the Nightmare Sequence, her journal is changed to a bunch of hostile ramblings and her texts are likewise threatening.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Any items you pick up and achievement photos you take remain in your possession if you rewind past the point where you obtained them, the former being important to certain puzzles. In Episode 1, however, two of the game's major choices give you the opportunity to either take a photograph or involve yourself in a situation. In both these cases, these options are mutually exclusive despite the fact that Max's rewind power should allow her to keep the photos in the same manner. In the subsequent conversations involving the photos, Max will claim not to have taken them if the player chose to intervene. While withholding the first of these is justified, as it would be rather mean-spirited to reveal the photo of Victoria after she took down the one of Max, there's really no reason why Max would choose not to use the photo of David harassing Kate as leverage, especially since she'll use it against him later if you didn't intervene, and the fact that you don't have proof is important in several later choices.
    • Max's rewind power does not affect her, meaning any time she uses it she effectively teleports if she's not in the same place. This is vital to numerous rewind puzzles, such as saving the dead bird in Episode 1. You even use it to teleport into a locked room in Episode 3, which impresses Chloe. As far as other people go, though, no one ever notices that Max more or less just vanishes into thin air or appears out of nowhere.
    • Max suffers a Psychic Nosebleed in Episode 2 after using her rewind too many times in the diner and junkyard scenes, indicating severe exhaustion of her powers. You can abuse Max's rewind powers to your heart's content otherwise.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot:
    • Invoked by Chloe if the player has Max kiss her. She'll claim Warren is out of luck unless he's into girl-on-girl. In a meta sense, it's worth noting that roughly 75% of players chose to do so.
    • Frank seems to have a spot for this as he has a poster of it in his RV. Which becomes ironic when he admits to Max in Episode 5 that he was jealous of Chloe and Rachel's relationship.
    • At one point, Max can come across a man admiring a photograph of two women kissing. He claims to be appreciating fine art, but it's pretty obvious that this trope is the true reason why he likes the photo.
  • God Test: The first few chapters of Episode 2 have Chloe testing Max's rewind power to make sure it's legit. This includes guessing the contents of her pockets and predicting the immediate future.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The first time Max uses her focus power, she winds up rendering Chloe paralyzed and terminally ill and has to let William die once more to reverse that. Max resolves to never use that power again, but when she's captured by Jefferson she realizes that the focus power is the only way she's getting out alive.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Occurs when Kate attempts suicide.
  • Groin Attack: Chloe will knee Nathan in the groin after you prevent her from being shot. She also mentions trying to do the same during his (possible) Attempted Rape, but she missed and hit a lamp.
  • Guide Dang It!: As the game encourages exploration and playing with the rewind mechanic, it's easy to miss minor things on the first playthrough.
    • The achievement photos can vary on being obvious to somewhat obscure, and several need to be taken from specific angles. The game does offer hints in the placeholder photographs, but these can be hit or miss. For example, the first photo in Episode 3 requires taking a picture of a figurine in Victoria's room. What it doesn't tell you is that the figurine is glow-in-the-dark, which you learn by rifling through the trash and finding the box it came in. Then you have to trigger that effect by shining your light on it for a few seconds. The object isn't even selectable until you've made it glow, so players might pass right over it as a mere background element without realizing it. Probably the most sadistic examples are the final photos in Episode 5. They're very well hidden in the nightmare sequences, which are not only much more difficult to navigate than any other part of the game, but also the last place you'd even suspect to contain photo opportunities because, you know, it's a living nightmare where taking photos is the least of anyone's worries.
    • Several of the minor choices can be easily missed, particularly the ones that happen right near the start of the chapter. There are several choices that happen before you even see them, and thus you have to figure out that you need to rewind to affect the outcome. For example, in Episode 2, it's very easy to miss Alyssa being hit in the head with a roll of toilet paper because you weren't looking, and thus run right by that possible choice without realizing you can fix it. The game aids in this by detailing every possible choice at the end of the episode, so you can always go back and replay choices you didn't realize were there.
    • Thanks to a scripting error, most players who bought the game at launch didn't realize that watering Lisa the plant twice in as many days will kill her. Max's mother is supposed to send a text warning against this, but it was only corrected upon the release of Episode 3.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: If you kept Kate from jumping, she will later express how happy she feels to still be alive.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: After you've played through the prologue, Max pops in some earbuds while she heads to the bathroom. This has the effect of drowning out everything but the music, and the credits run over the scene as you walk through the hall. Max will comment if you examine objects or people along the way, but that's it.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Max and Chloe both suffer from this in Episode 4. Max because she realizes that no matter what she tries to do, Chloe's life is going to be terrible. Chloe's turn is when it's revealed that Rachel, Chloe's one best friend since Max left, has been Dead All Along. She breaks down crying.
    • Frank if you tell him that Nathan and Jefferson killed Rachel with drugs that he supplied Nathan.
    • David, should the player decide to tell him that Chloe is dead. It will result in him shooting Jefferson before breaking down sobbing, asking himself how he can ever explain this to Joyce and that he was never able to tell Chloe that he loved her.
  • Heroic R.R.O.D.:
    • If the player attempts to rewind past the limit as indicated by the spiral, the edges of the screen redden like a burning photograph and Max will complain that she can't go any further.
    • In Episode 2, Max sees Kate jump to her death and tries to rewind it, but her Psychic Nosebleed kicks in and threatens to derail the attempt. Max pushes herself to the limit, inadvertently stopping time until she can reach her destination, but at that point she's so burnt out that even attempting a rewind just leads to a migraine. You thus have to play through that sequence without the safety net. In Episode 3, Max worries that she may accidentally trap herself in this state if she isn't careful.
    • In the finale, Max's overuse of her Time Master powers finally comes back to bite her as she is trapped in her own personal hell via a Nightmare Sequence, complete with a stealth sequence, a withering "Reason You Suck" Speech by an Alternate Universe Max, and a How We Got Here corridor leading up to the ending. Oh, and the sole journal page remaining takes on a Room Full of Crazy quality.
  • Homage:
  • Homoerotic Subtext: As the main relationship is between two teenage girls, one of whom is still reeling from the loss of her also female friend, there is quite a bit. According to the developers, this was deliberate. If you try to shoot Frank, Chloe will be so impressed she (in a text later on) half-jokingly proposes to Max and suggests they elope, since gay marriage wasn't legal in Oregon yet. Even more prevalent in Episode 3, as Max and Chloe's banter gets increasingly flirtatious, and Chloe dares Max to kiss her (it's up to the player to make good). This is Played for Drama during the finale, where Max can give Chloe a very passionate goodbye kiss, if the player chooses to sacrifice Chloe.
    Chloe: I just don't think anyone's good enough for you... aside from me, of course.
  • Hostile Weather: A tornado is set to destroy the town on Friday, which Max discovers when she jumps forward to that day and sees it from the lighthouse. This is a direct consequence of Max using her powers to save Chloe. It's either her or the town.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: In Episode 3, Max will note in her journal that Victoria is always trying to manipulate people despite already being successful. She immediately follows this by hoping she isn't doing the same with her rewind. She'll make a similar comment if you look in the mirror at the pool. Her alternate self calls her on it during the nightmare sequence as well, using it to tear down any other justification Max may give for her actions.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: During their nightly break-in into the school building Max reveals that she always wanted to say the word "nab".
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In Episode 4, the quadriplegic Chloe in the alternate timeline asks Max to assist in her suicide. You can choose whether or not Max goes through with it.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • In Episode 5, instead of running for shelter, Max and Chloe (for some inexplicable reason) are at the beach, standing in front of the giant tornado that is about to destroy the town, and talk about how they'd do anything to keep each other safe.
    • There's the scene in the graveyard at the end of Episode 4, when Max, in this extremely creepy scenario...walks backward. Right into Jefferson's syringe.
    • In Episode 5, when Max desperately needs a photo that Warren shot the night before, she drives a long way through the murderous storm to find him. Granted, the photo in question is a Polaroid, but the game never gives a reason why Max' powers wouldn't work just as well with a digital image, so Warren could've just taken a shot of the physical photo with his smartphone and sent it to Max.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In Episode 2, Chloe will hit herself with a ricochet if Max suggests shooting the bumper of a car in the junkyard. Thankfully, rewind is there to save the day.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: Mr. Jefferson says this three times. The first two are to Victoria in Episode 3, first for coming on to him and second for trying to blackmail him. Strangely, in Episode 4, Jefferson declares her the "Everyday Heroes" contest winner anyway, said contest being one of the main reasons she kept coming on to him. The third time being to Max in Episode 5, where she can snark him out in the middle of his lesson after she finds out that he helped cover up Rachel's murder, he helped Nathan kidnap Kate, and he murdered Chloe and Nathan.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • Jefferson uses the phrase "selfie-expression" when Max takes a selfie with her old camera, then apologizes to the class.
    • If Max examines the tampon dispenser in the girl's bathroom, she mentions that she's "good to flow".
    • Victoria tells Max to "go fuck your selfie". Max admits this is "mean, but funny" if you're nice to Victoria later on.
    • Near the beginning of Episode 2, you can check Max's computer. There you'll see that Warren has left some movies related to time, and he makes some pretty good puns.
      Warren: That's all the TIME I have for now as I have actual quantum physics to plow through.
    • In Episode 2, Max tells Warren to "go-dium" when she recommends using sodium for his science class experiment. He calls out the pun, but does it anyway. He's not quite as harsh with "go-tassium" (potassium).
    • In Episode 3, Max calls Chloe her partner in crime. Chloe responds that Max is her "partner in time."
      Max: Insert groan here.
    • There's two puns on the the last name Price in Episode 4. Max calls Chloe "priceless", then swears it wasn't meant to be a pun. Later, William says "the Price is always right" and apologizes for it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Said by Chloe after Max makees her shoot Frank in Episode 4.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The plot tends to play out mostly the same regardless of your choices.
    • Nathan and Victoria will always be sitting at Max's desk before class in Episode 2, no matter how she's acted towards them. If Max was nothing but nice to Victoria, she'll lampshade that it doesn't really change anything. Being nice to her is important for warning her in Episode 4, though.
    • Events conspire to make sure Chloe has a gun by the end of Episode 4. Even if you lose her gun, don't take it from Frank's RV, and don't take Nathan's gun, she'll get the original back from Frank after the confrontation with him.
    • The circumstances of Rachel Amber's disappearance still play out, even in the alternate timeline.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Victoria published video footage of drugged Kate going off the rails at the Vortex Club party, which drives Kate to commit suicide, unless you manage to talk her out of it.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: When Victoria and her two friends block the entrance to the dormitory, there is still enough space on the left to bypass them but the game doesn't allow such action.
  • Interface Screw:
    • The journal acts strangely at certain points:
      • At the beginning of Episode 4, the journal now belongs to the alternative timeline Max, who is much less contemplative than the original one. As such, the diary portion of the journal is only two pages and Max is the only major character listed.
      • After Jefferson destroys the journal, attempting to access the diary section just results in seeing burnt pages. This lasts until shortly before the final choice.
      • During the Nightmare Sequence, the diary section is replaced by a bunch of Room Full of Crazy style scrawling of all of Max's self-doubts.
    • One portion of the Nightmare Sequence has everything running in reverse and all the interface text mirrored. To take one of the optional photos in this section, you have to open your journal when the game tells you to, starting a reverse sequence of Max taking the picture.
  • Interrupted Suicide: The climactic scene with Kate at the end of Episode 2 has Max attempting to talk Kate off a high leap. It's up to the player if she succeeds.
  • Ironic Echo: If Max doesn't take a photo of David hassling Kate in Episode 1, when you bring it up with Jefferson in Episode 2, he says "My number one rule - always take the shot". He repeats this line early in Episode 5, literally injecting Max with an extra dose of the drug he used to knock her out.
  • Irony:
    • Max complains about the Vortex Club, but when she changes history in Episode 3, her alternate self is a member and (as indicated by various texts and letters) acts the part.
    • Frank has been selling Nathan large amounts of GHB, which was likely used to dose his girlfriend Rachel Amber to death.
    • Episode 3 has Chloe tempted to steal several thousand dollars out of the school's handicapped fund in order to pay off Frank. Later in the same episode, Max decides to return to their childhood and make a small change to Chloe's past, which, as it turns out, results in her being a quadriplegic in the present and no longer being able to attend Blackwell (despite her outstanding academic performance) due to the school's buildings not being fit for the handicapped. Max even comments on this, slightly, in Episode 4.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The game starts with Max in a dark and stormy night at the lighthouse, until the scene is revealed to be a Dream Intro.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In Episode 2, if you choose to shoot Frank, the gun clicks and he says to consider getting bullets next time.
  • Just in Time: In the Railroad Tracks of Doom scene, no matter how you time your rewinds, Max will always manage to get Chloe free just moments before she's hit by the train.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • After ruining Victoria's outfit, you have the option to mockingly take a photo of her as she did with you, then tell her off so she'll move. She'll retaliate by vandalizing your room and stealing the picture.
    • In an example involving an actual dog, one of the two options for dealing with Frank's dog is to toss the bone into the street, where it'll be hit by a semi. Thus, this crosses with You Bastard.
  • Killed Off for Real: By nature of the game mechanic there are several instances where you can let a character die instead of rewind and save them.
    • Kate if she commits suicide.
    • Frank if Chloe kills him and Max doesn't reverse it in Episode 4.
    • Victoria, if you convince her that her life is in danger during the Vortex Club party.
    • Quite a few instances happen when the tornado is devastating Arcadia Bay in Episode 5 and you choose to save Chloe instead of the town.
      • Several of Max' schoolmates are encountered on the way to the Two Whales diner, all of which will die very sudden deaths if you don't intervene in time.
      • The homeless woman behind the diner will be found dead if you didn't warn her of the coming disaster during an earlier episode, much to Max' horror.
      • The trucker who's trapped in the burning building Max has to traverse at one point must be killed to proceed, and he'll stay dead if you don't rewind afterwards.
      • Even if you managed to avoid all these deaths, an unknown number of people die from the Tornado. Max and Chloe are the only unambiguous survivors.
  • Last Kiss: In one of the endings, Max goes back in time in order to let Nathan shoot Chloe, which leads to the tornado never happening. Depending on the player's choices, Chloe and Max will have a last kiss before that.
  • Last Request: At the Dark Room, Max requests to have another look at her photograph before being killed.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Which ending you get is decided entirely by the very last choice: either you travel back in time to the start of the game and let Chloe get shot in the bathroom, preventing the Butterfly of Doom that results in a tornado destroying Arcadia Bay, or stay with her in the destroyed town.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: We get a couple of close-ups of Blackwell's bus driver so it can be a surprise when David Madsen replaces him in the alternate timeline.
  • Lighthouse Point: Where the game opens, and a recurring viewpoint for the tornado which will destroy the town. It's also where the game's climax occurs in Episode 5.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • In Episode 2, Max will lampshade this when going with an almost identical jeans/shirt/hoodie combo (the shirt is different but still has a doe on it), claiming that Einstein got by just fine with one outfit. Averted in Episode 3; Chloe lends her some of Rachel's left-behind clothes (a plaid jacket, torn jeans, and a shirt) so Max doesn't have to wear her still-wet and chlorine soaked outfit from the previous day, and in the new timeline she has an entirely new outfit. In Episode 4, she trades the doe shirt for a black butterfly shirt.
    • Episode 5 averts this: Max gets several new outfits when she does her several jumps through time and wears several others from previous episodes during the extended nightmare sequence.
  • Lingerie Scene: Chloe's and Max' sojourn to the Blackwell swimming pool plays out as an extended one. Chloe then has another brief one in Max' Nightmare Sequence while making out with Warren.
  • Madness Mantra: "RACHEL IN THE DARK ROOM RACHEL IN THE DARK ROOM RACHEL IN THE DARK ROOM." Thanks for that creepy bit of artwork, Nathan.
  • Magic Realism: The game itself has Max's time-based "superpower" which works more like magic than anything else as it has bizarre inconsistencies both in and out of universe as Max and the player discover in different ways, unnatural phenomena that has all the local science buffs stumped affecting the weather and wildlife around Arcadia Bay and possibly the moon or the planet in general judging by the eclipse and second moon, and an ethereal deer that could be Max's spirit animal or the ghost of Rachel Amber all despite seeming to be based in a world a lot like our own.
  • Malicious Misnaming:
    • Chloe constantly refers to her stepdad as "step-dork" or "step-douche", and once even as "step-führer".
    • Nathan likes to make fun of Max' last name, calling her "Cockfield" or "Crackfield".
  • The Marvelous Deer: An ethereal doe shows up at a couple points. It's immune to Max's rewind and seems to lead her places. It's implied to be Rachel's ghost, trying to help Max learn what happened to her.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Explicitly discussed by the characters in relation to Max's time travel powers in Episode 5. Ultimately the trope is played straight - nobody ever figures out why or how Max gained her power.
  • Meaningful Funeral: If you choose to let go of Chloe at the end, you are treated to such a funeral. Even Frank is paying a visit (if Chloe has let him live).
  • Meaningful Name: The Price family name. Remember the old saying "Everything comes with a price"? Episode 3 is this in a nutshell.
  • Mental Time Travel: In Episode 3, Max is able to travel back into the body of her 13-year-old self by looking at a photograph of that day. This enables her to save Chloe's father, altering the past five years significantly. When that doesn't pan out as well as she hoped, she undoes it and swears not to use that power again. She does this for about half Episode 5 too.
  • Mind Screw: The Nightmare Sequence in Episode 5 is pretty twisted.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Several nighttime scenes show fireflies flying around. Max even comments that they look "magical", which they are — in the sense that bioluminescent fireflies are extremely rare on the west coast of the United States.
  • Montage Out: The first two episodes end with a montage of major characters going about their daily work while indie folk music is playing in the background.
  • Morton's Fork: No matter how you handle Nathan drawing a gun on Chloe, the outcome is virtually identical. If you report him, the principal calls Max's parents to tell them she lied, while Nathan deduces that it was Max who got him in trouble (presumably from the ripped photo on the floor) and angrily confronts her over it. If you don't report him, the principal instead calls Max's parents because he finds her dodging his questions suspicious, and Nathan instead confronts Max over his belief that she has seen and heard too much. The choice does play into later confrontations, but the immediate effect is the same.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • The game tells you when your actions will have consequences. This includes watering the plant in your room. Square Enix even got in on the fun for April Fools Day, putting up a merchandise page for the one object that lets you be like Max: the plant.
    • At two points in the game, you're given a choice between two kinds of breakfast. Like most choices, you can rewind and change it.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • You can rewind time at almost any point in the game. This can be used for dramatic things like stopping a potential shooting to mundane things like fixing a snowglobe you accidentally broke.
    • Max herself considers using it to catch more sleep.
  • Muse Abuse: Taken Up to Eleven by Mr Jefferson who explains that the torment in the faces of his "models" is what makes his photographs so special.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Chloe is overcome by remorse in case you let her kill Frank and his dog in Episode 4.
  • Mysterious Watcher: We see somebody in the foreground watching Max and Chloe leave the Two Whales diner. The character is later introduced as Frank.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The Nightmare Sequence in Episode 5 has a door with a keypad and possible combinations to it scrawled all over the walls. The mirrors in the room don't reflect anything other than the right code.
  • The Needs of the Many: What the final choice is about. Will you have Max save all of Arcadia Bay or just Chloe?
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: When Chloe and Max break into the principal's office, Chloe scans the monitor and calls Max to "better come and check this out" instead of telling her what she found.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer for Episode 4 was an egregious offender. Not only was Chloe edited out of every scene, but Max's exploration of Chloe's house was narrated with the line "there's no sign of life," which was taken from Max looking into the forest in an entirely different scene.
  • Newspaper Dating: Early on Max discovers her vision takes place on October 11, four days later, thanks to a newspaper clinging to a post.note 
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Every new episode, Max gains new abilities that help her when she needs it. In the second episode, she manages to stop time long enough to get to the rooftop before Kate jumps, and in the third one, she learns how to time travel with a picture just so she can prevent the death of Chloe's dad. It is implied that these are all different applications of the same power. She has no idea how it works, after all.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: One of the game's main themes is that Max's time travel powers can sometimes make things worse:
    • If you water Max's houseplant Lisa in both Episodes 1 and 2, it drowns. Due to a scripting error which prevented a text from Max's mother warning about this, most players didn't know any better until Episode 3, where it was patched.
    • At the end of Episode 3, Max changes history so William Price never died. As a result, the five years between then and the present are radically altered. Max is now a member of the popular crowd, Warren doesn't have eyes for Max, David Madsen is a bus driver, and Chloe is paralyzed from the neck down. Furthermore, since Max has Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, she has no memory of this version of herself or others.
    • In Episode 3, Max can erase a voicemail from a cop alerting David that the police (correctly) suspect that Chloe broke into the Blackwell swimming pool. If Max deletes the message before David and Joyce can hear it to spare Chloe the trouble, the police decide to question Chloe. Allowing David to hear the message causes him to lie to the police and give Chloe a fake alibi.
    • In Episode 5, if Max warned Victoria about Nathan and she believed her, Victoria will go running to Jefferson for help. Jefferson decides that Victoria has learned too much and kidnaps and murders her.
    • In Episode 5, Max finds out that saving Chloe from being killed in the first place is what causes the storm.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: During the Nightmare Sequence, Max's journal is changed to a bunch of hostile ramblings and her texts are likewise threatening.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Episode 5 has an extended one featuring a scary and strange landscape filled with subconscious fears.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • During the game you come across several self-help books written by a "Dr. Bill", an obvious stand-in for Dr. Phil.
    • In Episode 5, Max turns on a car radio to a rant by one Truss Limpbow, an obvious parody of American Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
  • No Ending: The Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending is like this. Max and Chloe watch the storm destroy the town and we see them drive through the destruction as they head out of Arcadia Bay, but aside from knowing they're alive, we know little else: who survived the storm (if anyone), where they're going next, what they're going to do, if the universe will keep coming after Chloe, and so on. Word of God says this was intentional, and that what happens next is up to the player's imagination.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Warren's fight with Nathan is more like Warren beating him until he's crying.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. There's a tampon machine in the girls bathroom. Max declares she's fine on that front if you examine it.
  • Notice This: Things you can interact with are outlined in a messy doodle-like texture and have an arrow pointing to them, even from a distance, allowing the player to easily see what can be fiddled with in a given scene. In the case of the first interaction, failing to figure out what to do will eventually cause the game to interrupt and move to the next task, by which point the player should get the idea.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Convincing Victoria to be wary of Nathan results in her turning to Jefferson for help and getting kidnapped and murdered in Episode 5. Going to the Cool Teacher for help with a troublesome student sounds like the right thing to do, except when said teacher is real threat behind said student.
  • Not So Different: Depending on your choice earlier, Jefferson will tell Max that she is not so different from him since she let Warren beat Nathan till he was bruised and bloody.
  • Once per Episode:
    • Alyssa suffers some sort of harmless misfortune in each episode, which Max can warn her of. Her final misfortune in Episode 5 is anything but harmless, though, and will get her killed without intervention.
    • Chloe, on the other hand, suffers much more dangerous misfortune each episode, which Max must then rescue her from. Episode 3 plays with this, making Max the cause of said misfortune as a cliffhanger.
    • Max can take a picture of a squirrel outside the dorms once per episode, culminating in Max taking a picture of two giant squirrels standing outside the dorms during the Nightmare Sequence.
    • A major environmental or astronomical anomaly that captivates everybody - usually as part of the end sequence.
  • One Degree of Separation: Chloe's stepfather just happens to be the Jerkass security guard Max has to deal with a couple times before bumping into Chloe for the first time in over five years.
  • One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other: The dormitory puzzle during the Night Mare Sequence. Only specific doors let you progress, all other doors lead back to the starting point.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted on several occasions:
    • Aaron Price and Harry Aaron Prescott.
    • Two odd examples with surnames; there's Alyssa Anderson and Anderson Berry, and Taylor Christensen and Samuel Taylor.
  • Pacific Northwest: The setting, a small coastal town in Oregon called Arcadia Bay.
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish":
    • David's password for his computer is the date of the day he met Joyce for the first time.
    • Nathan's pin code for his phone is his birthday, though if you can't figure that out you can always use the PUK to reset the password.
  • Pet the Dog: One of the few things Frank is said to care about is his dog. A cop relates a tale about how he freed a bunch of dogs that were part of a dog-fighting ring, one of them being the one he owns now. He later mentions he rescued Pompidou from a highly abusive owner.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Max is unable to use her time travel powers when she has to save Kate. It is implied to be due to earlier over-use of said powers.
  • Player Data Sharing: Downplayed; the game records your choices, and the final screen displays the total percentage of people who picked each choice.
  • Pool Scene: The End Of The World Party in Episode 4 takes place in Blackwell's indoor swimming pool, with the bars and dance floors set up around the pool and lots of beautiful young bodies on display.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Chloe suggests Max could use her powers to bang people with no consequences, even specifically suggesting that Max has hit on her with this method. Max disagrees. The player gets a chance to make good on this in Episode 3, after Chloe dares Max to kiss her. If you refuse, Chloe suggests you went for it then rewound.
  • Power-Strain Blackout: After using her powers a bit too much at the junkyard, Max faints.
  • Precision F-Strike: In Episode 5, Max is asked to answer a question. Unfortunately, she has just come round after changing the past using a photo so we have no way of knowing what the question was. The only options are "Fuck You" or "Eat Shit and Die".
  • Pretty Little Headshots: When Mark Jefferson murders Chloe in the last scene of Episode 4, there's only a small red hole in the middle of her forehead. It's the same gun Nathan had in the first episode, which appears to be an FNP-9. A 9mm and a .38 (and a .357 too, for that matter) all use a .357 caliber bullet; it's the amount of powder used which changes the force behind them. This should be a spectacularly gory scene, but it plays this trope straight and isn't.
  • Previously On: Each episode starts with a clip montage of earlier scenes.
  • Product Placement: An odd, yet hilarious subversion. One of the lead writers insisted on putting in a reference to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within despite Square Enix being hesitant due to how poorly received it was.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: In Episode 2, Chloe and Max hang out on the railroad tracks. When Max goes off to take a picture, she has a vision and wakes up to find that the track switcher has pinned Chloe to the tracks. She has to then free Chloe, either by breaking the switch or messing with the fuse box so she can switch it long enough to free Chloe without sending the train down the wrong track.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • It seems that Nathan is a typical popular jock at school. He's in with the Vortex Club (the popular clique) and if you accuse him of having a gun in Episode 1, the general reaction from faculty will be "but he's a Prescott!" However, his steadily-increasing unsettling behavior—violently lashing out, threatening students, and other sketchy doings—eventually catches on. Even members of the Vortex Club will admit to being freaked out by him.
    • The game gives a fail scenario if you shout a warning too soon about Max's kidnapper lying in wait for the rescuer. After all, he is in range to slug Max; why would he not silence her?
  • Red Herring:
    • The ax in the train puzzle. Max refuses to consider using it on Chloe, and it's of no use in cutting the wires in the fuse box.
    • Trying to stop William Price from taking Joyce's phone call. You'll get caught trying to intercept the call, attempting to call her first doesn't work because you only know her work number, and unplugging the land line causes her to call his cell phone instead. You have to hide William's keys to fix things.
    • The Prescotts. Other than being indirectly responsible for Nathan's unstable and dangerous behavior, they're ultimately irrelevant to the larger plot, despite their talk of Nathan inheriting his "legacy" and a number of conspicuous references to the Pan Estates in Episode 4.
    • The Vortex Club. They're heavily implied throughout the game to be a conspiracy with some connection to the apocalyptic storm, but in the end, they really are just an exclusive group of rich kids.
    • Nathan and his role in the drugging and photographing of young women against their will. While he's far from innocent, he isn't actually the Big Bad the games makes him out to be most of the time. Jefferson is.
    • Several characters, major and minor alike, turn out not to be what they seemed at first. David starts out as an unsympathetic Control Freak who seems to be stalking (especially female) students, but this very trait leads to him finding and saving Max from the Dark Room. There's a whisky bottle in the Dark Room implying that Principal Wells, the only character in the game known to drink whisky, might be involved, but he isn't. Samuel has a suspicious box filled with women's clothing and his comments to Max about time suggest that he knows more than he lets on, but none of this is ever resolved.
    • The only consequence that comes with watering Lisa the plant is that the plant will stay alive and healthy.
  • Relationship Values:
    • In the first three episodes, there are four choices involving Chloe: her pot in Episode 1, Kate's call at the diner and the confrontation with Frank in Episode 2, and taking the money for the handicapped fund in Episode 3. If at least three of these are resolved in a way that she approves of, examining Chloe's phone in her bedroom shows that she has changed her background to a picture of Max. Otherwise, it's a picture of Rachel. The relationship with Chloe is complicated in further episodes, with the argument between David and Chloe thrown into the mix. If Max sided with Chloe three times and kissed her in Episode 3, then she and Max will share a passionate kiss before Max travels back for the last time in the Sacrifice Chloe ending. Otherwise, they have an emotional hug instead.
    • Whether or not you intervene when David hassles Kate, support her idea to go to the police, take her call in Episode 2 and are reassuring and non-judgmental in other interactions will color Kate's perception of Max. If Max has been supportive, it is much easier to talk her down from her suicide attempt in Episode 2.
    • If you take the time to save Alyssa from misfortune Once an Episode, she becomes more trusting of Max. If not, she will eventually become convinced that Max is a Doom Magnet, and ask she keeps a distance. If Alyssa thinks the latter in Episode 5, she will fall down a hole and die if Max tries to talk to her when she's trapped in the storm. Max can still save Alyssa's life but it is harder.
    • Whether or not Warren and Max can share a kiss near the end of Episode 5 is based on four choices in previous episodes. If Max accepted Warren's invitation, helped him with his exam, changed the grade on his exam, and/or wrote on his whiteboard, she will have the option to kiss him before using the photograph to change history. If Max did none of these things, she will not be able to kiss Warren.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Chloe's father died, she became friends with Rachel to help fill the void that Max had left. Max is implied to fill it once more after she returns and Rachel is gone.
  • The Reveal: Two in Episode 4: Rachel Amber was Dead All Along and Mark Jefferson is the Big Bad.
  • Riddle for the Ages: So how did Max gain the ability to time travel? We don't know. It's never fully addressed, there are barely any hints as to how or why she got it, and we'll probably never know the answer.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: In Episode 3, Max can draw a butterfly for this purpose when she travels back to the day William died. Doing so is up to the player.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Max recalls everything she learned in alternate timelines before using her rewind to change things. This allows her to mine people for information, rewind, then use that information to coax further details from them. At the end of Episode 3, she winds up changing the past five years and remembers nothing of the new timeline, which is a problem considering everyone around her is essentially a different person.
    • Zig-Zagged in Episode 5, Max goes back in time to the night before, explains what's happening during the plot with Chloe and readjusts their plans, and explicitly tells Chloe to explain everything back to her as they go through the stages. Max mentions that this is an important step, since she won't remember anything until she catches back up to herself from the point that goes back to change it.
  • Roadside Wave: At one point Alyssa gets splashed with puddle water by the road side which you can warn her of.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship:
    • Chloe's friendship with Rachel with quite close. She calls Rachel her "angel", and the creators have remained ambiguous as to if the two were romantically involved. In Episode 3, Chloe admits she "crushed" on Rachel, though she did not think she was perfect. Chloe also does not take it well when she learns that Rachel was apparently in a full relationship with Frank. In the confrontation with Frank in Episode 4, Chloe can state after specific dialogue choices that she and Rachel loved each other. Alternatively, Frank speaks of Rachel and their relationship as something he deeply valued, and through specific dialogue choices he will tell Chloe that Rachel blamed her for the problems she and Frank had in their own relationship. Regardless, Chloe becomes absolutely distraught and bursts into tears when she and Max discover Rachel's corpse.
    • As the game progresses, Chloe becomes increasingly affectionate and flirty towards Max, mainly depending on player actions. With dialogue ranging from asking her if she prefers boys or girls, telling her she's even smarter and more talented than Rachel, calling her hot, calling her cute, commenting on getting her a stripper (if they steal the handicapped fund), commenting on sex, implying that she's daydreaming about kissing her, telling Max no one's good enough to date her "except me", getting all fluttery at the kiss... There's a reason the "PriceField" pairing is so popular, even among a few developers. The endings of the game solidify that, even if they aren't romantically involved, they both mean a great deal to the other. Though romance is the most frequent endgame, it depends on player decisions.
  • Running Gag:
    • The aforementioned missing tablet with cat pictures.
    • Alyssa having a Butt-Monkey moment (typically getting hit by balls, crumpled paper, puddle splash, etc) that Max gets the choice to help her get out of the way at the last second. Alyssa might or might not return the favour in Episode 5.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Episode 4 offers a pretty cruel one. Help Alternate!Chloe commit suicide or refuse. She gets mad about the latter, but Max has to live with the former.
    • The ending. The tornado was created when Max prevented Chloe's death by Nathan in the girl's bathroom. The only option left at the end of the game to stop the tornado from manifesting in the first place is by going back in time and letting Chloe get shot by Nathan. No other option (argued by Chloe and Max or not) can stop the tornado from destroying Arcadia Bay.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In Episode 5, Max travels back to the beginning of the game. She arrives exactly when Jefferson says that he could easily put any of the class in a dark corner and photograph their despair. What appeared to be Jefferson criticizing Diane Arbus was actually a sarcastic confession of doing exactly that.
  • Save Scumming:
    • Played both traditional and In-Universe. Max's rewind power is based on this trope. You can rewind time to get the choices/information that you want. In some conversations where you give the wrong information and are given the right one, the latter will appear as a new choice in your rewind. For the former, this is something that you would normally do in a Visual Novel when you try to get the desired choices. Even if Max cannot use her power to prevent Kate from committing suicide (as she is too burnt out to use it), you can still do this and it can be done at any point during this segment. This way, you can get the result you want on your "first" try while keeping the choices you have picked throughout the episode without having to start over.
    • Most of Episode 5's Nightmare Sequence will feature the various characters in them calling Max out on using her powers in this way. This reaches its apex when Max is receiving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from herself over how she's been abusing it and her inability to get by without it.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: Max mentions this when she successfully gains access to the Dark Room by trying only the faded numbers on the keypad.
    Max: Yes! I thought that only worked in the movies.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: When Max and Chloe sneak into the school after-hours to search for evidence, Chloe is confident David won't report her to the police if he catches her, since that would be an embarrassment. She turns out to be right, since David will cover for her if he gets the message from the cops about spotting her car on campus.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Nathan boasts of being above the law because his family owns half the town. Since the police is heavily implied to be on his father's payroll (the cop in the diner admits it when questioned by Max), and reporting Nathan to the principal does nothing so it's not an unjustified opinion. Though you can get the principal to suspend him in the wake of Kate's suicide attempt, he just threatens to sue the school and treats it flippantly. His father, however, does not take it so well, and by the time you see him in Episode 3, Nathan's not in that great of a mood. Episode 3 also shows that Nathan's father has bought Nathan's record expungement on more than one occasion, and if Nathan is suspended or expelled, he threatens to pull his funding to the school unless Nathan is reinstated.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The Dark Room is located under a barn in the middle of nowhere.
  • Searching the Stalls: In the bathroom early on, Chloe checks the stalls to see if anybody was there to overhear her talk with Nathan. However, she Failed a Spot Check and missed Max hiding in the janitor space at the end.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In the end, it's revealed that Max's use of her time travel powers is what causes the superstorm that destroys Arcadia Bay. Or at least, that's the characters' best guess. They have no confirmation of this at the time, nor on how it works, nor do they have any idea if going back one more time will actually fix things and not just make the storm worse: it's various characters making guesses and suppositions based on their familiarity with time travel tropes.
  • Serial Escalation: If you thought Episode 3 was a Wham Episode, Episode 4 tops it in every way. Nathan and Mr. Jefferson have been kidnapping, drugging, and possibly raping students after taking photos of them in tortured positions and fetishist poses. With Rachel, they murdered her. Furthermore, Chloe gets shot in the head, and since Max gets drugged, there's no undoing it.
  • Serkis Folk: Characters are animated using motion-captured performances.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In Episode 3, Max stares at an old photograph and travels back in time to the day William died. She saves his life, changing everything from then on. She still left town and came back, but now she's a popular girl in the Vortex Club. Chloe, on the other hand, is confined to a wheelchair and slowly dying. Then she has to reset again to fix what was wrong with this timeline.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • The "Sacrifice Chloe" ending demonstrates that the entire game is one. If Max had let Chloe die in Episode 1, Nathan would have been arrested for her murder and then told the police about Jefferson abducting and killing women. This would lead to Rachel's corpse being discovered. The circumstances that lead up to Kate's suicide also don't occur. The game basically admits that there never was a practical, heroic reason for Max ever having her powers.
    • The "Sacrifice Arcadia Bay" ending is only marginally better in this case. Chloe survives and it is implied that other people do too but the death toll is officially unknown. Everyone's lives are completely uprooted even if they did survive. Nothing Max did altered her start-of-game vision in any way.
    • Whether you view the game as meaningless is up to the player: Word of God states that whoever survives in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending is up to the player and was left deliberately ambiguous, and that the reason Victoria, Kate, and others show up at Chloe's funeral is because Max made a positive difference in their lives and they're there for her as a show of support.
  • She Knows Too Much: Mr Jefferson knows how to clean up after himself.
    • First he shoots Chloe when he finds out she and Max have discovered Rachel's body.
    • If you decide to tell Victoria too much about Nathan and Mr Jefferson at the Vortex Club party, she will get "silenced" as well.
    • Max was going to be silenced as well but she escapes due to a power that Mr. Jefferson didn't know about.
  • Shipper on Deck: If you convince Daniel to go to the End of the World Party, then you can find him and Brooke happily chatting together, with the implication that the two of them are about to become a couple. This is a bit downplayed if you turned Warren down on his offer of a drive-in date, which Brooke takes him up on instead.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: In the junkyard, you can instruct Chloe to fire at the gas tank of a rusted car sitting atop a pile of junk. Not only does hitting the intake at an angle manage to ignite the gas inside, it explodes harmlessly.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shown Their Work: All the different birds in the game are species that live in the Oregon area.
  • Signs of Disrepair: In Episode 5, the Two Whales Diner sign is damaged, leaving only "DIE" and a 'W' off to the side.
  • Signs of the End Times: The tornado premonition as well as the flash snowstorm, the unscheduled eclipse and the dead birds all seem to indicate that The End Is Nigh.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Chloe's home is under heavy surveillance by David and he plans to install security cameras all over the campus as well.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Chloe is deliberately edited out of scenes in the Episode 4 trailer, to the point of showing her truck racing down a road without anyone driving it. This is likely to keep up the suspense about the changed timeline, as Chloe walking around would give away that twist.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Everyone curses to varying degrees. At best, some will spout at least one foul word throughout the game. At worst, some swear like sailors, which makes sense considering the game's setting. Chloe definitely takes the cake for having the most colorful language in the game.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Turns out Nathan drugged and then kidnapped Kate and Rachel at the Vortex Club party.
  • Slipstream: The only fantastic elements in the game are Max's time travel powers and their apparent connection to the coming storm, which are never given any explanation. Take those out, and you have a fairly mundane (if very dark, towards the end) high school teen drama.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Chloe, when Jefferson shoots her at the junk yard and also when Nathan shoots her in the bathroom at the end.
  • Slut-Shaming: Everyone calls Kate the "viral slut" after her video spreads around. To add insult to injury, Kate gets letters from her fundamentalist Christian family (including a particularly nasty one from her Westboro-ish aunt) shaming her for what happened.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: The bottle fetching at the scrap yard which was inserted to help the players get immersed in the universe.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: After completing Episode 4, the idyllic sunset in the main menu is replaced by a massive tornado and violent thunderstorm. The peaceful guitar music in the background, however, does not change.
  • Stalker Shrine: In Episode 5, during the Nightmare Sequence, Max can open up Warren's locker and find a shrine filled with photoshops of Max's face on bikini models and a bikiniclad Max doll.
  • Stealing the Handicapped Spot: In Episode 1, the first time Max sees Chloe's truck, it's double parked in the handicapped spot for no apparent reason.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • There's a brief scene in Episode 3 where Max and Chloe have to avoid getting caught after sneaking into Blackwell in the middle of the night.
    • There's a much longer one in Episode 5 when you have to evade characters in order to reach the lighthouse during the Nightmare Sequence. That the last two optional photos are hidden in this segment can make it all the more frustrating if you're a completionist.
  • The Stoner:
    • Chloe, Stella, Hayden, and Justin all love pot. Max notes that Hayden is almost always high.
    • In the alternate timeline, there's an interesting new addition to the lineup if you read Max's texts:
      Alternate Victoria: I do try BTW I scored that Killer bud from You know who FYI
      Alternate Max: Save me a bowl. Gotta bounce TTYL
  • A Storm Is Coming: A tornado is threatening the town and Max has four days to prevent it from happening.
  • Story Branching: The main gameplay mechanic, though the effect of your choices may not be apparent until following episodes. For particularly important choices, the game will pause and display the available options. At the end of each episode, a journal is brought up indicating every available major and minor branching point, along with percentages indicating how many overall players chose that option.
    • In Episode 1:
      • Choosing whether or not to report Nathan for having a gun, which more or less plays out the same in the relevant conversations to follow. Choosing to report him also colors the principal's perception of Max in later choices, especially if she can't back her accusations up, though it also helps make a case against Nathan later.
      • Comforting or making fun of Victoria after spilling paint on her in order to enter the dorms. Doing the former causes her to take down the unflattering picture she took of you. Doing the latter results in your own unflattering picture of her, only for her to vandalize your room later in retaliation. Rewinding won't allow you to save the picture and comfort her anyway.
      • Taking a picture of David harassing Kate or stepping in to help Kate. Kate will get mad at Max for doing nothing if you take the picture, and will be grateful if you intervene. Helping also plays into talking down Kate from committing suicide, while taking the picture can be used as proof of David's harassment later. As with the above, the options are mutually exclusive in spite of Max's rewind.
      • A four option choice in Chloe's room: hide/don't hide, and take the blame for the pot/don't take the blame for the pot. Not taking the blame always makes Chloe mad, but she's barely on speaking terms with you if you didn't hide and blamed her. By contrast, she'll be impressed if you come out of hiding to take the blame, this being the only scenario in which she reveals the gun she stole. David may also use it against Max later, if he needs to defend his own reputation or if Principal Wells questions how much he can trust Max. Having taken the photo of David will come into play here if applicable.
    • In Episode 2:
      • Telling Kate to go to the police or wait for more proof. She takes the second decision worse than the first. Waiting also factors into accusing Mr. Jefferson in the final choice of the episode.
      • Answering Kate's call at the diner. Though Kate is grateful if you do, Chloe will get into an argument with her mom in the background and be briefly mad at Max. Not talking to Kate avoids the argument, but this is a point against you in the later confrontation.
      • Resolving the confrontation with Frank by either trying to shoot Frank or not. In the former, you're out of bullets, so it does nothing, but he'll still leave while warning that he won't forget the attempt. If you do the latter, he takes the gun and leaves with a warning to Chloe alone. Chloe will be glad it was taken despite her earlier enthusiasm for the weapon, though she'll also claim that she could manage to find another if necessary. She still nags you about it later, but doesn't seem to be too pissed off.
      • Whether or not Kate commits suicide. Previous choices involving Kate come into play here, as do details of her personal life that can be gleaned from her room. There are a total of six dialog options, five of which need to be correct to talk Kate down. The sixth only occurs if one of the previous five is answered wrong. Any previous negative interactions with her will have to be adequately justified, while positive interactions are counted regardless of which dialog option is chosen. Notably, you can't rewind on this one, so the choices you make have to be right the first time. If you succeed, Max is thought of as a hero for talking her down and the ending montage has a scene of Kate recuperating at the hospital. If you fail, Max is still praised for trying and she laments not being able to help, while the ending montage has a memorial for Kate outside the girls dorm. The results of this continue into the next episode, and almost every character will comment on it in some way — even people you meet for the first time or only speak to in passing, such as the homeless woman outside of the Two Whales diner.
      • A three option choice in the aftermath of the above. While talking with the principal and police about what drove Kate to attempt suicide, you have the choice of accusing Nathan, Mr. Jefferson, or David. The outcome of this choice can vary wildly depending on how you dealt with the participants in previous choices. If you reported Nathan earlier (or didn't report him and didn't take the blame for Chloe), accusing Nathan gets him suspended/expelled on reasonable suspicion, though he threatens to sue and seems rather cavalier about the whole ordeal. If you didn't report Nathan and took the blame for Chloe, accusing him gets Max suspended. Accusing David will get Max suspended if she has no proof of his harassment, reported Nathan, and took the blame for Chloe; result in nothing if Max has no proof and didn't take the blame for Chloe (or if she has no proof and didn't report Nathan); and result in his temporary suspension if Max took a photo of him harassing Kate. Accusing Mr. Jefferson means he will no longer represent Blackwell at the Everyday Hero competition and is put under faculty scrutiny, though he accepts his punishment and Max's accusation with grace. If Max didn't recommend Kate call the police, he'll say she hasn't been taking Kate's calls.
    • In Episode 3:
      • The first major choice you get is whether or not to let Chloe steal the money for the handicapped fund from the principal's desk. It's more than enough to pay off Frank, but that will prevent the dorms from receiving any upgrades in the next episode. Aside from Max regretting her decision when she learns of the cancelled upgrades, it doesn't have any negative consequences during gameplay.
      • Choosing whether or not to kiss Chloe after she dares Max to. Kissing her results in a brief peck on the lips, but neither of them seem particularly displeased about the situation, and they banter about it a few times afterwards.
      • Choosing to side with Chloe or David. If you side with David, Max does so primarily out of concern for Joyce and the already unstable family situation, though Chloe calls you out on how you were just calling him creepy. If you side with Chloe and talk about his files, Joyce jumps in and demands an explanation. She then tells David he should stay at a hotel for a few days, and talking with her after reveals that she doesn't blame Max or hold it against her. It will also allow easy access to David's files in Episode 4.
      • When entering Frank's RV, you need to get past Frank's dog. You can either toss the bone into the parking lot or the street. Throwing it into the parking lot means the dog barks as Max and Chloe leave. Frank hears the barking and turns around, watching the two of them leave in Chloe's truck. Throwing it into the street means the dog gets hit by a semi and Frank won't notice, but Max feels pretty bad about it.
      • If, in the confrontation with Frank last episode, you chose not to shoot him, David's gun is in his RV. You can choose to take it and give it back to Chloe, or leave it where it is. Otherwise, the gun will be in Chloe's room and the choice is skipped.
    • In Episode 4:
      • Whether or not to assist Chloe's suicide. Yes means she dies and no means she doesn't but criticizes Max.
      • Letting Warren beat Nathan to a pulp or stopping him. Warren thanks you for the latter, while doing the former causes Chloe to take Nathan's gun.
      • The confrontation with Frank. This can go a number of ways, depending on how the player chooses to leave things. If Chloe has a gun and Frank's dog is loose, she'll kill them both in self defense if he gets mad. If the dog is locked up (or was injured in Episode 3, and thus not around), he gets shot in the leg if he gets mad, or stabbed if Chloe has no gun. Finally, Max can convince him to cooperate with the right choices. The confrontation in Episode 2 and the money Chloe wants to steal in Episode 3 come into play here, though Frank can be talked down even if both options weren't done in his favor. Chloe will get her gun back from Frank if she doesn't have it already, regardless of the outcome.
      • Telling Victoria about the Dark Room. If Max didn't make fun of her for the paint spill and doesn't insult her at the party, Victoria will believe her. Otherwise, she won't. The player can choose not to tell her at all.
    • In Episode 5:
      • If Victoria believed Max in Episode 4, she'll be in the Dark Room with Max.
      • Telling David that Chloe is dead. If you don't, he'll take Mr. Jefferson to the police. If you do, David will kill him in cold blood.
      • Once you get Warren's photo, you can either hug him, kiss him, or do nothing. The kiss option may be absent depending upon past interactions with Warren. It factors into some later dialog.
      • Either save Chloe or Arcadia Bay. Doing the former causes the storm to destroy the town and likely many (but officially unknown) others whilst Max and Chloe leave town together. Doing the latter means Chloe dies, but Mr. Jefferson and Nathan pay for their crimes since Nathan is arrested for killing Chloe and apparently sells Jefferson out under interrogation. Everyone else gets to live, too, even Kate if you didn't save her the first time.
  • Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: Often the puzzles take a backseat to the exploration of the environment and characters, making Life is Strange a hybrid of Environmental Narrative Game and Adventure Game.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land:
    • Max returns home after five years to find her former best friend a different person in the wake of Chloe's father's death and Rachel's disappearance. She comments a few times on how nothing's changed, and yet everything has. This is expanded upon in Episode 2, where Max gets to ask several people about how things have changed over the past couple of years.
    • At the end of Episode 3, Max changes history so William Price never died. As a result, the five years between then and the present are radically altered. However, because Max's memory hasn't changed with the timeline, it's a completely different town to her. She's now a member of the popular crowd, Victoria's now Max's BFF, Warren and Max aren't friends, David Madsen is a bus driver, and Chloe is paralyzed from the neck down.
  • String Theory: All the evidence for David, Nathan and Frank is pinned to a drawing board in Chloe's room and you are asked to piece together the clues.
  • Surreal Horror: The nightmare sequence in Episode 5. Among others it includes: Max sitting in a class that casually continues as normal while hundreds of birds pelt the windows turning it into a bloody mess, Max being forced to declare her love for Mr. Jefferson or something equally repulsive, and Max having to sneak around a maze of Jefferson's tortured photographs while he and other people Max know yell insults at her.
  • Survivor Guilt: This is written all over Max and Chloe's faces during the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending, stemming from the fact that the Bay is the cost for the latter's life continuing.
  • Symbolic Baptism: In the opening Max excuses herself to the ladies room to splash water on her face. She then promptly acquires her Time Master powers (which make up the main game mechanic). At the end of the game this moment is what she jumps back to, if the player chooses to sacrifice Chloe and Cosmic Retcon away the entire game's events.
  • Take That!: Serial killer Mark Jefferson appears to be a fan of a thinly veiled Rush Limbaugh parody.
  • Take Your Time: You can walk around examining objects and admiring the scenery at your leisure, but the important events won't occur until you trigger them. This is especially noticeable with the bathroom confrontation in the first episode. The first time around, you walk slowly and may waste a bunch of time looking at stuff. After the rewind, you run straight there and the event plays out the same. However, it's played with when it comes to events like Alyssa's regular misfortunes, Chloe being trapped on the train tracks or the Two Whales diner exploding during Episode 5. All of them can be rewound to set things right in case Max didn't intervene in time, but they do play out in real-time again and again until you figure out the solution.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Max attempts to do this with Kate, who wants to jump three stories to her death at the end of Episode 2, due to all the bullying she's taken. Player choices decide if she succeeds.
  • Tempting Fate: When leaving the diner, you get a call from Kate Marsh. Answering the call leads to Max saying afterward that she could just not take the call. It's not like she won't see her later in class, right? Then, when she does go to class, Kate Marsh is somewhere else... On the other hand, not taking the call results in Max saying she feels bad about ignoring her friend in need. Chloe will then offhandedly tell her to not beat herself up as Kate will survive her not taking that one call. Max doesn't seem too convinced, and in fact, not taking the call will make it more difficult to talk Kate out of committing suicide later unless you say your phone was on silent mode, so Kate might not survive you not taking that one call after all.
  • This Is Reality: At the end of Episode 1, Chloe tells Max that her insistence of having time powers is ridiculous, as "this isn't anime or a video game."
  • Time Crash: First altering destiny, then tampering with the timeline causes strange, scary things to happen in Arcadia Bay. Though we can't exactly say why or how, other than that the timeline appears to becoming unstable and reality is both "glitching" and trying to right itself by ultimately wiping out Arcadia Bay.
    • The strange things are: snowing unseasonably early, despite being 80 degrees; there's an unscheduled solar eclipse; whales and birds start dying inexplicably around the town; a double moon appears briefly in the sky; and finally the enormous twister that Max keeps having visions of threatens to wipe the town clean off the map. Needless to say, all of these things happening in rapid succession spook the citizens and are seen as Signs of the End Times, which seems to be true at the local level.
    • The "Nightmare" sequence is the penultimate point of the series. Max collapses, and is sent on a surreal, terrifying adventure. Whether this was because her time powers messed with her head too much or whether she fell into some...scary time thing, is open to interpretation.
  • Time Is Dangerous: The game goes to great lengths to stress the dangers of having time-manipulation powers:
    • Max's altering history from within history itself leads to a point in Episode 5 where she is 'between realities'.
    • Near the end of Episode 2, Max manages to freeze time entirely, but the fallout from this incident leaves her unable to use her powers for several hours, and she expresses fear of becoming stuck in time in the following episode.
    • After creating a timeline where she is a member of the Vortex Club, William Price is alive and Chloe is in a terminal condition from a spinal injury, Max decides that her ability to alter history using photographs is far too dangerous because the Butterfly Effect is in full force.
  • Time Stands Still: When Max tries to overtax her powers in Episode 2, this is the result. It gets her up to the roof in time to talk to Kate, but she's burnt out and has to talk Kate down without the benefit of rewinding. In Episode 3, Max worries that she might get herself permanently stuck like this if she isn't careful.
  • Time Travel: Max's powers, crossed with a bit of Reality Warper since her soujourns into the past of her photographs leaves the present progressively more and more distorted. It also effects her differently so she appears to cross space as well as time from the perspective of others.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The time travel logic is fairly consistent for a few notable exceptions:
    • The storm Max has a vision of at the very start of the game doesn't actually have any reason to exist, even in vision form at that point considering that Max herself is implied to be what causes it with powers she doesn't have yet. It could perhaps be excused if either the entire scene in itself was a flashback, or if by some logic You Can't Fight Fate so much that even time travelling to change fate itself is predetermined.
    • The first scene at the bathroom, where Max watches Nathan kill Chloe, ends with a time jump back to Max awaking in class. The creators have admitted that this was not according to the time travel rules established. We should have seen Max rewind from the bathroom to the classroom but that just didn't work as effectively so they changed it.
    • According to Chloe, the snowflakes and eclipse also happened in the timeline with her being paraplegic, though in this timeline Max never saved Chloe from Nathan which caused the anomalies. So the tornado should not be on its way to destroy the town. Given, this is still a move away from the timeline when Chloe died because she was shot by Nathan, which makes sense in theory, considering it's never clear if Chloe's survival caused the tornado or if Max changing the timeline at all caused it.
    • Episode 5's numerous photograph jumps are just short of needing a flowchart to explain. Max leaves her timeline to turn Jefferson in to the police and win the Everyday Heroes contest, which makes her out of town in the present, so she goes back to that timeline and destroys the photo she had turned in to the contest (before she turned it in), angering Mr. Jefferson and causing him to destroy all of Max's photos, meaning that in the original timeline she never went back to start the whole sequence in the first place.
  • Title Drop:
    • Subverted in Episode 5. At one point Max remarks that "life is...", does a dramatic pause, and finishes with "weird".
    • Later in Episode 5, Chloe (or rather, one of many possible versions of Chloe) comes up with "life is.... so not fair."
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • There is a reason Chloe frequently dies/needs saving from lethal peril, and it is not strictly because Fate/Death/The Worse/etc. is because mad that she didn't die at the start of the game. It's because she makes a lot of bad choices. In Episode 2, Chloe will shoot herself with a ricochet during the bottle shooting scene if you have her shoot the car bumper. She's also been drinking, a fact Max lampshades as a bad combination yet goes along with it anyway. Later on, Chloe gets her foot caught in the track switcher while hanging out on the regularly used railroad tracks.
    • In Episode 5, Evan is in the middle of a tornado trying to take photos. A fridge door will hit him if Max doesn't intervene.
  • Torture Chamber Episode: Max spends most of the first half of Episode 5 as a captive in Jefferson's Dark Room.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: There's an eclipse in Episode 2, even though there's not one scheduled.
  • Totally Radical: The dialogue is peppered with what is intended to be early 2010s slang, but it doesn't quite work as well as the writer intended. It's passable, but a bit overused, wrongly used, and dated. There are also some odd British-isms, like "suss out" and "bum" (as in "ass"), among other examples. However, it gets better as the series progresses, to the point where some current slang like "salty" is used exactly correctly. Lampshaded by Chloe, when Max uses the phrase "Are you cereal?" when she realizes her camera got busted.
    Chloe: Wow, I haven't heard that one in awhile.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The E3 trailer shows at the end that you can rewind after focusing into a picture. A downplayed example, as it only covers the first three episodes and follows their official release rather than preceding it.
    • Episode 5's launch trailer spoils that the tornado comes from Max's powers.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: A lot of the dialog involves either accidentally or deliberately giving the wrong answer, then rewinding to give the right one or use what you learned to probe further. The confrontation with Kate near the end of Episode 2 is a straight example, as you don't have the option to rewind and there's not much margin for error in the dialog choices.
  • Two-Teacher School: Ms. Grant and Mr. Jefferson. The rest of the faculty includes the principal, groundskeeper and chief of security.
  • Use Your Head: In Episode 1 Nathan headbutts Warren in the parking area when the latter tries to help out Max. Warren returns the headbutt to Nathan in Episode 4 at the Boys' dormitory.
  • Vanity License Plate: Chloe somehow managed to get the license plate "TWNPKS" (Twin Peaks). Somebody else at the school has "TWLTZN" (The Twilight Zone). Nathan Prescott, somewhat disturbingly, has "SXFTNDR" (Six Feet Under). A show about a creepy town with a missing girl, a show about the dark side of sci-fi concepts, and a show about death and the acceptance thereof. Hmmm.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Some collectible photos can only be obtained if you do certain good things, like helping Warren with his science experiment.
    • In a case overlapped with Video Game Cruelty Potential, some collectible photos can also be obtained if you do certain cruel things, like re-arrange Victoria's wall of photos into a shape of middle finger or ask Trevor to do tre flip so he accidentally hit himself in the crotch for you to snap a photo of him in pain. Fortunately, since you retain items and collectible photos even after you rewound, you can simply rewind so you retain those photos while your cruel action is undone.
    • Multiple choices in the game let you extend a helping hand to the people Max interacts with, such as being nice to Victoria after you dump paint on her, watering your plant, saving Alyssa from flying objects, and taking the heat for Chloe's pot. This is actually important for talking Kate down from suicide, as it's more difficult to get through to Kate if you haven't been nice to her.
    • You can choose to tell Victoria she's going to be the next victim, which, ironically, gets her killed if she believes Max.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • On the flip side, they also let you be kind of a jerk, such as adding insult to Victoria's paint injury and doing some petty vandalism to the photo wall in her room (a photo achievement, though you can always rewind it; not doing so will result in Victoria stealing Max's birthday cookies), taking a picture of the kid who messes up his skateboard trick (another photo achievement), and letting Alyssa's Once an Episode misfortune go unfixed.
    • A "cruelty" option comes in Episode 3: you can choose to throw a bone to distract Frank's dog. If you choose to throw it into the street, the dog gets hit by a semi. Doing so means that Frank doesn't notice Chloe and Max leave, meaning he has no reason to suspect them when he finds his keys missing and his RV broken into. It's worth noting that almost every player will toss it into the parking lot instead, so the dog isn't harmed.
    • In Episode 3, there are several methods Max can try to steal Frank Bowers' keys. Two of these are spilling his beer on his lap or dropping his plate of beans on the floor, pissing him off and resulting in him trying to kill Max. These accomplish nothing, but you can rewind and do them over and over to your heart's content.
    • You can not tell Victoria about her being the next victim in Episode 4, which, ironically, ends up saving her life.
  • Villain Has a Point: During Episode 5, Jefferson makes an offhand comment about how Rachel Amber would have died in LA had she not died by Nathan's hand. He's technically right in the sense that Chloe and Rachel would have just left their families and Arcadia Bay and gone hundreds of miles with no money, no place to go and no actual plan for when they do make it there.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: Max receives an anonymous text threat claiming someone "knows where she sleeps." It's likely from Nathan, as there can be another text in Episode 3 proclaiming that "feminazis will be exterminated"note  or that she is a "fukup looser"note . You get proof it was him in Episode 4.
  • Volleying Insults: Max's conversation with Victoria in Episode 4 can degenerate into this.
  • Watching the Sunset: Episode 2 ends with Max and Warren, among others, watching the unscheduled eclipse.
  • Watching Troy Burn: If you choose to save Chloe at the end, the two of hold hands while watching Arcadia Bay getting destroyed by the tornado.
  • Weather Dissonance: Episode 1 ends with snow falling in October during fairly mild weather. It's just one of several anomalies heralding the deadly tornado approaching Arcadia Bay.
  • Weird Moon: Episode 4 has the Moon doubled in the sky. It's implied to be another version of the Moon bleeding over from an alternate timeline.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 3: Max changes history, saving William but putting Chloe in a wheelchair. A bunch of whales also beach themselves at the end.
    • Episode 4: Rachel was Dead All Along, murdered by Jefferson and Nathan. Jefferson and Nathan have been drugging and kidnapping teenage girls and taking grotesque pictures of them to put into photo albums. Finally, Jefferson kills Chloe and kidnaps Max.
  • Wham Line:
    • In Episode 2, when trying to stop Kate from jumping off the roof:
    • It might not have a lot of impact on the plot, but this line in Episode 3 certainly turned some heads.
      Chloe: You can afford to take chances! Whenever and whatever you want to try... for example, I dare you to kiss me!
    • Then in Episode 4, we get this.
      Alt!Chloe: I just wanted to feel like when we were kids running around Arcadia Bay... and everything was possible. And you made me feel that way today. I want this time with you... to be my last memory. Do you understand?
    • In Episode 5, one of two Wham Lines happens, depending on what dialogue option Max picks:
      Max: I think the storm started... everything started... when I learned I could rewind time... There's no way this is just a coincidence, right?
      • Or:
      Warren: Max, going back in time is what caused the storm!
  • Wham Shot:
    • The reveal of Chloe in a wheelchair in Episode 3.
    • The reveal that the man who killed Chloe and drugged Max is Jefferson, not Nathan.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • After Chloe has saved Max from Nathan and shared some witty banter, she will call Max out on never contacting her after she moved away, and still not contacting her after she moved back.
    • If you have Max choose not to intervene while David the security guard is hassling Kate for no reason, Kate will angrily say "Hope you enjoyed the show! Thanks for nothing, Max."
    • In Episode 5, an alternate version of Max will ream into Max/the player for using the rewind power to mess with people's feelings and saying what they want to hear.
  • What the Hell, Player?: If you move a plank to take a photo of a birds' nest in Episode 4 and don't replace the plank (by rewinding or by moving it back), the nest will be destroyed before the scrub jay eggs hatch. Joyce's texts and pictures of the damage done essentially call the player out for their carelessness in pursuit of minor objectives.
  • Where It All Began: Comes into play in two distinct ways:
    • The lighthouse in the first scene is also the site of the game's final decision point.
    • If you choose to save Arcadia Bay in the end, Max's final act with her powers is to use the butterfly photo to jump back to the moment her rewind powers first manifested and stop herself from preventing Chloe's murder.
  • Wire Dilemma: When trying to save Chloe from the onrushing train Max can use the pliers to cut a wire in the fuse box. There are three wires present (green, yellow, red) but only cutting the red one leads to the desired outcome.
  • You Are Better Than You Think: Towards the end of the game, Max realizes that the tornado was created by her powers and claims that all she has done with her powers was cause more death and destruction. Chloe won't have that.
    Chloe: Fuck all of that, okay? You were given a power. You didn't ask for it... And you saved me. Which had to happen, all of this did... except for what happened to Rachel. But without your power, we wouldn't have found her! Okay, so you're not the goddamn Time Master, but you're Maxine Caulfield... and you're amazing.
  • You Are Not Alone:
    Max: My powers might not last.
    Chloe: It's okay, we will. Forever.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: After Max saves Chloe in the opening, Chloe has numerous close calls within the span of a week, verging on Cosmic Plaything territory, even dying by gunshot at the close of Chapter 4, until Max jumps through a lot of hoops to reverse it. The implication being that Chloe was destined to die early in the story, and that all of these close calls is the timeline trying to right itself, while the strange phenomena around the town is a side-effect of the timeline being tampered with. However, you can save Chloe for good, at great cost.
    • Near the end of the game, Max and Chloe conclude that it was Chloe's fate to die in the bathroom. However thanks to Max's powers and her saving Chloe, she has caused the tornado and other calamities. Chloe is willing to accept her fate of dying in the next timeline if it means to save Arcadia Bay. However, the decision lies in Max's hands.
    • This trope sums up the Sacrifice Chloe ending. Max goes back in time where she met the blue butterfly in the bathroom and lets Chloe get killed by Nathan.
    • On the other hand, this trope is averted by the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending. Max and Chloe watch the tornado as it destroys the town and the two leave the next day.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Chloe, whose hair is dyed blue. One of the background characters, Alyssa, has hair different shades of purple.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Frank pulls this one on Max at the junk yard when the latter draws a gun on him. Of course he's quite shocked if you do decide to pull the trigger and backs off.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/LifeIsStrange