- For information on Max's rewind ability, see Rewind.
Timestream montages appear whenever Max uses her Focus ability on a photo to go back in time and alters a past event which causes the timeline to be "overwritten". These timestream sequences consist of moments that happened in the earlier timeline burning and merging into moments of the new timeline. The timestream images were illustrated by French concept artist Florent Auguy.
Alternative Timeline Edit
Max travels back in time to the day William, Chloe's father, dies in a car crash. She prevents him from driving his car, saving William's life and creating an alternative timeline very different from the original. A timestream montage shows the events of the original timeline being altered. After either accepting or refusing Chloe's wish, Max returns to the day William died and lets events happen as they did in the original timeline. Another timestream montage occurs, depicting the previously shown events reverting back to the original ones.
Dark Room Timeline Edit
In an effort to escape from the Dark Room, Max focuses on a monochrome photo taken by Jefferson. She manages to kick a trolley and damages Jefferson's photos. The timestream montage shows an angry Jefferson looking at a folder.
|Original Events||Alternative Events|
Jefferson examining the photos.
Jefferson looking at a damaged folder.
San Francisco Timeline Edit
After Max is captured by Jefferson in Episode 5, she uses her diary to travel back to Jefferson's classroom. She texts David about Jefferson and the Dark Room and then submits her photo to the Everyday Heroes contest. A timestream montage is shown; some events remain the same, but others change dramatically, such as Max winning the contest and setting off for San Francisco.
After arriving at the gallery, Max discovers that the storm is still in existence and approaching Arcadia Bay. Determined to save Chloe, Max focuses on her gallery entry, returns to the day it was taken and tears it apart, preventing herself from winning the contest. A timestream montage shows Max putting the torn photo inside her diary, Jefferson burning Max's diary, Max restrained in the Dark Room and Jefferson entering the Dark Room.
Storm Timeline Edit
Max travels back in time using the photo Warren took of them together. Max convinces Chloe not to search for Nathan and instead to tell David about Jefferson and the Dark Room. A timestream montage shows Max and Chloe warning David, Jefferson being arrested by David and several other policemen, and Max and Chloe facing the storm together.
|Original Events||Alternative Events|
Jefferson after killing Chloe.
Max and Chloe waring David.
David and Jefferson fighting.
Police officers arresting Jefferson.
Max on her way to the diner.
Max and Chloe facing the storm.
Sacrifice Chloe Timeline Edit
At the end of the game, Max is faced with her biggest decision so far - save Chloe and let the tornado destroy Arcadia Bay, or sacrifice Chloe in order to save everyone. If the player chooses the latter, Max focuses on the photo of the blue butterfly and travels to the beginning of the game; this time, she doesn't intervene and allows Nathan to shoot Chloe in the stomach. A timestream montage shows David handcuffing Nathan, Nathan interrogated by the police, Jefferson being arrested by the police, Max talking to Joyce and David, Max hugging her teddy bear, Joyce giving Max a box with Chloe's belongings, Max looking at polaroids and Max standing on the lighthouse cliff.
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:
1. 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.
2. Max knows she was possessed and knows about her future time travel powers. Not really possible, it would affect the timeline way too much.
3. 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.
- Illustrator Florent Auguy refers to the timestream montages as "tunnel".