Life is Strange - Polarized Dilemma

February 2017

Life is Strange - Polarized

This is a major spoiler essay on the ending and choice of this fantastic game. Stop reading right now if you didn't finish (as in, to the credits of the last episode).

So, you finished Life is Strange, the game/movie/series that defies definition. The "choice based" game where your choices matter for past, present and future.

Except not. Even the name of the last episode will tell you it is Polarized. It is White or Black. Your choices hugely alter how the story plays, but the curious point is that in the end, you have only one choice: "submit" your changes, at the cost of all Arcadia Bay, or "reset" it, at the cost of Chloe's life.

The whole logic of the last choice comes down to this: Max caused a rift in space and time, if you will, that brought major anomalies to her reality: a snow shower in a city that has never seen snow, an unscheduled Eclipse (which is impossible, but it happens here because multiple dimensions are intertwining), animals loosing their focus and appearing dead everywhere, and finally a F6 Tornado (A never-seen super tornado stronger than anything on record) that destroys town. Therefore, by using her time-reverting (or soul-projecting in time using pictures, which is even more powerful) to save Chloe, she brought destruction to the whole town.

The choice is therefore simple: she can keep things are they are at the moment of choice, with the tornado killing everyone and razing town, or use a picture of when she saved Chloe for the first time to go back and not save her, preventing her from ever using her power again to such thing.

Sacrifice Chloe or Sacrifice Arcadia Bay (everyone else)?

This is a curious question because it begs some moral and ethics, as well life perspective dilemmas: Is the right choice obvious? is your happiness the right choice? is the right choice focused on you or the world?

First, a quick preview on why sacrificing Chloe would prevent the storm, since it is actually not obvious (nor should it be to the characters, even though it is real):

Should Chloe be killed by Nathan in the bathroom, he would be arrested by David. So instantly all uses of Max power to deal with David, Chloe and Nathan are no longer necessary.

Nathan, protected by his family and obviously looking for himself, would turn Mr. Jefferson to the police, thus not only causing his arrest, but solving Rachel's vanishing (murder). A lot more of Max power no longer necessary.

With Nathan and Mr. Jefferson crimes revealed and served justice, Kate wouldn't suffer as much, she wouldn't try to kill herself. Less power usage by Max.

Max wouldn't need to deal with Frank, not the situations that Chloe puts her through. Less power usage.

All in all, Chloe death pretty much answers for almost all of Max's power needs. Curiously, Chloe's death also solves Rachel's murder since it puts in the light Nathan/Jefferson.

Therefore yes, going back to that precise time and letting Chloe die would prevent Max using her powers to anything more little "fun" and therefore the storm.

But is really sacrificing Chloe for the good of all Arcadia the right choice? A lot of people argue that they spent so much time and effort to save Chloe that they weren't going to let her die now, specially that Max didn't know her actions where bringing Chaos (she was looking for why they were happening, unaware she was the reason herself). Others say they chose to save Arcadia, the "rightful choice" even to great pain in their heart.

However, our life is our own. We see our life from the lenses of ourselves, and we have nobody to be responsible for but ourselves, we have only ourselves to answer to. So, wouldn't it make the right choice that which is true and better for oneself? A thought that comes is the "Vulcan" saying "The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one" - but that is just a hypocrite way to brush aside choice and responsibility. Not only the good of more always outweigh that of the few, but when the one is oneself, nothing beats it - what really matter is if you can live and accept your choice.

It was very clear from start that Max would do anything for her best friend. Other than Chloe, she only knew her mother in Arcadia Bay, and she only cared for her classmates because she came to know them recently. For Max, from her perspective, the choice would be obvious: save Chloe. Wasn't that always the point? wasn't this the reason she suffered and used her power so much? didn't she let Chloe father die so she wouldn't end crippled? 

That nagging emotional pain you feel when you have to choose shows exactly that: you want to save Chloe, that was what you have been doing for hours in the game, but you want to leave the game with your head up saying you sacrificed your best friend, the whole reason you suffered thru the game, for the "right reason". What right reason? 

There is no right nor wrong, only facts, only actions and reactions, and the only choice true to Max, and to anyone in her place, is sacrifice Arcadia, and learn with it never to overuse her power again.

It does feel a badly scripted ending, but in fact, it is one of the most humane questions of all. Choosing to save Chloe makes you human.

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