by C. Nuan
Many sci-fi fans can tell you time manipulation stories are hard to do and harder to do well. Time-space relativity aside (kinda), time affects so much that it’s difficult to account for all the little ripples it tends to make. Setting rules or limits around a time manipulation power can hedge bets a bit; but then, the story has to follow those rules—at least as long as there’s no major plot element that changes those rules, inadvertently establishing new ones or creating a loophole ripe for fan-theory exploitation. I like to imagine that when the game designers for LiS came to the writing crew with their concept, the writers attempted to warn them ala Ghostbusters before the containment unit was shut down. In the end, we got lucky and got Zuul instead of a full-blown Gozer.
Life is Strange has a number of fallacies (please, do not view your solar eclipses directly–your eyes, they’re precious), but three major time-related ones rattle at the story. The first occurs when Max discovers her rewind ability and goes back to help Chloe in the bathroom. Initially, Max’s mad rush from the classroom is confusing since she just gained nifty time powers with apparently no repercussions; but, her sense of urgency could be due to panic and the average constraints of tutorial levels. Events subtly change during Max’s dash to the bathroom: She passes Evan before he’s able to approach Alyssa and cuts off Hayden before he crosses the hall to the bulletin board. Max then retraces her steps in the girls’ room; however, at this point, the player should be standing there for a few tedious minutes because Max beats the original timeline to the punch.
Despite supposedly recreating her actions, according to the events in the hallway, she was in the bathroom earlier than she’d originally been; so, we should’ve been left loitering over the sink, waiting for ultra-time butterfly to show up. Unless Max froze at the basin (contemplating some of the best graffiti ever), there’s no telling how those intervening minutes would’ve affected the butterfly’s approach, its “effect,” or other events. But, maybe Max did freeze at the basin, and the passage of time might’ve seemed more disjointed to her in her panic. So, this one barely gets a pass.