Max's time travel abilities are a key element of Life is Strange whose discovery sets off the events of the game. Triggered by the shocking experience of seeing someone get shot, Max Caulfield's power manifests for the very first time in Episode 1 as she jumps back into Mr. Jefferson's class, and she discovers she can rewind time. Throughout the game's events, her powers develop and manifest in various ways; she has visions of the future, is able to stop time and can go back in time by focusing on photos of herself.
- Main article: Rewind
Time Jump Edit
Time Stop Edit
It occurs when she focuses hard enough on a photo, and goes to the time it was taken. Once there, she can alter events which cause a timestream of moments that happened in the earlier timeline to burn and merge into moments of the new timeline.
Time-Jump Mechanism and "Auto-Pilot" Max Edit
When Max rewinds time without using a picture, she basically time-travels physically. Her body stays at the same place when she rewinds time. She erases the physical position of her old self and replaces it by a new one. To exterior people, it would seem Max teleported herself.
The mechanism involved with the time jumps through pictures is radically different: it involves Max's mind moving back and forth in time while her body doesn't.
This whole auto-pilot process brings out some confusing points:
After the original 13-year-old Max was possessed by her 18-year-old self, how is she going to remember these few minutes when she hid the car keys (the "unresolved point in time")? Three possibilities:
- Max won't remember these few minutes and will go on living normally. It's not likely: a 13-year-old girl would probably freak out if suffering from amnesia.
- Max knows she was possessed and knows about her future time travel powers. Not really possible, it would affect the timeline way too much.
- Her brain will fill in the gaps with fake memories: 13-year-old Max will think she acted from her own will when she hid the keys, maybe thinking it was some kind of prank she doesn't clearly remember. This is the most likely scenario.
Note: When a possessed Max warned Chloe on the parking lot, she said to Chloe that the auto-pilot Max that would follow wouldn't remember anything she said while possessed. Our Max couldn't have any way to know that for sure, but it would imply the first theory is actually correct: all auto-pilot Maxes have to deal with amnesia.
Is the fact the 18 year-old Max's mind took over the new 18 year-old Max's body (the one member of the Vortex Club) ethical? Even though the original 18 year-old Max is the one who created this new timeline, is it right for her to interrupt the life of the new "auto-pilot Max"? It probably bothered Max a lot since in the nightmare sequence, the Max ghost introduced herself as "one of the many Maxes she left behind" and she said "look at the trail of death you left behind". It could be interpreted as all the auto-pilot Maxes' lives "our" Max interrupted.
Life is Strange is basically the player following the journey of one iteration of Max's mind through time.
Side note: It is interesting to note that the first example of auto-pilot Max is the only one who doesn't have time-travel powers: this Max never saved Chloe in the bathroom. It confirms Max got her powers, or at least could only trigger them, by saving Chloe in the bathroom.
- The game files indicate that the moment when Max focuses on a picture and travels back into that moment is called "Polarewind" (short for Polaroid rewind).
- When Max is "inside" a picture, a weird effect seems to define impassable boundaries around her. The game files confirm that this effet is called "Film Burn Particle".
- The moment when Max is in her room and tears up her winning photo is the only time when the boundaries don't look like burning walls but like a burning sphere instead.
- Illustrator Florent Auguy refers to the timestream montages as "tunnel".