Okay, I’m about to go right into the deep end of stuff that I do not know jack-diddle about, so bear with me. But since none of what I am postulating here has ever been tested anyway, the truth is that I can muse about it all I like. I have recently discovered a YouTube channel called MinutePhysics. If the maker of that channel finds this post – hello. You make excellent content, which helps people like me who love science but are mathematically illiterate learn about things that are far grander than we ever think about. You have allowed me to finally put into terms that may make sense (I admit that I have a layman’s understanding of all of this, so correct me if this sounds ridiculous) of something that I have been pondering.
For those who don’t know, there is an episodic game called Life is Strange. Regular readers of this site are groaning. I’ve talked about this game a lot. I rather like it. And by rather I mean that I’ve talked about this game to the point that my audience just wants me to shut up about it. But bear with me, audience. This might interest you. But first, let’s go back to MinutePhysics.
He made a video a couple years ago talking about parallel universes, where he talks about three prevailing theories, none of which (to my knowledge) has been tested, so this is all speculative. For all we know, the universe really is on a turtle’s back, and it’s just turtles all the way down. Or maybe we’re in Schrodinger’s box that he kept the poison in. Which reminds me – you’re a dick, Schrodinger. At least go with Einstein’s way. He made it quick. In all seriousness, here is the video MinutePhysics made about parallel universes. Watch it before reading on. It will help put this on context.
I want you all to pay attention to the third option that he talked about with possible parallel universes. The universe that is centered around the idea that all choices are contained within their own reality. So, there is a universe for every conceivable outcome. As he said, including one where the prequel Star Wars movies never happened. Or, one where they did happen, but they were good. Maybe we can have a universe where the end of Mass Effect 3 doesn’t suck. Novel concept. Anyway, in that thought process, each decision carries with it a universe all its own. From each of those choices, more choices can be made. Each of those also being their own universe. The universe we are in now is just the one where we went through our lives as we are. There could be countless universes where countless options take place that change everything about how we lived our lives.
Which brings me back to Life is Strange. In that game, the protagonist, Max Caulfield, wakes up one day to find out that she has the ability to rewind time and change the outcomes of her life. In terms of the game mechanics, it allows you to affect your choices and make different events happen. But the power also has a connection to the narrative. Max discovers her abilities after a nightmare dream where she is on a cliff, overlooking the town she is in. A massive tornado is there, destroying everything. At the end of Episode 1, Max goes back to that place, and it’s understood that it has some connection to this ability to alter time that she has. She doesn’t know how, but just knows that it’s coming, and there seems to be nothing she can do about it. It doesn’t help that there is a mystery that she has gotten roped into where her ability to alter time takes center stage.
The game has Max’s powers developing further and further. She is finds out that in addition to rewinding time, she can even stop it. She uses this power to save her friend Kate Marsh. In Episode 3, Max discovers that she can go even further. After a fight between her and Chloe, Max is in her room staring at a picture of the two of them when they were much younger and wishing that she could go back to those days. Her wish was her command, as the power takes her back through time, into the picture. Seeing that she has gone back, she sees this as an opportunity to to save Chloe’s father’s life, thus changing the future and perhaps making Chloe not so angry and miserable. But what started with the noblest of intentions ended up having disastrous consequences. Not a new concept with time travel, but the way Life is Strange presents it is with Max wondering what this power is doing to her, and the people around her. Regardless of the people you help, there are people you hurt.. The choices that she makes and the way she uses her abilities are shaping all kinds of events around her. This ties back to the video of MinutePhysics.
Think about this – Max is able to rewind time. But whenever you do this, you see her standing still where she is, while a version of the past is rewound. Often, her rewind leaves her one place, but it almost looks like the past is in another. Like her rewind doesn’t alter the timeline, but creates a totally new one. In other words, Max is creating alternate timelines every time she rewinds. But what happens to those original timelines? Do they just keep going? In Episode 2, when Max keeps trying to rewind time to save Kate, do they just keep going, with her having jumped off that roof again and again? In Episode 3, when you blow the lock off the Principal’s door, does that timeline just keep going, with Max and Chloe being arrested for breaking and entering, along with destruction of property? But the real mind-fuck comes in Episode 4. The completely alternate timeline that Max creates. She created an entirely new reality, completely based off of changing one thing. She finds that that one decision changed everything about her life and the people around her. Her enemies were her best friends. Villains in her life were now non-existent. And most of all – she put Chloe in a wheelchair and effectively destroyed her life, all because she chose to save her father. At the end of the alternate timeline, Chloe asks you to end her life, because she doesn’t want to spend the last few months she has suffering and destroying the lives of her and her family. I chose to accept her request. I turned up the morphine and helped her kill herself. When I went back to undo what I had done, did that timeline keep going? Was Max even there? Did she just vanish from existence, leaving Chloe’s parents to find her dead in that room? To find their daughter dead and her best friend (who would obviously have been the one to do it) gone? What would that do to a person?
All of these potential timelines are things that Max creates. And you will use your power to rewind time, a lot. It’s part of the narrative and solving the mystery. All of those timelines continue on. If each and ever timeline created is another universe, and they are being created rapidly by this one person and this one power, then I have a theory about the tornado. Max is altering the fabric of reality by doing what she is. At the end of each episode, things happen that show that reality is being damaged by what she is doing. Max isn’t stupid. She knows that it’s all connected to her power. And each event is worse than the last. First it’s a snowstorm in September. Then it’s an eclipse and dead birds. Then it’s beached whales. Finally, at the end of Episode 4, you see two moons in the sky. Reality is being torn apart, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that Max is the cause.
So, the tornado is the end result. It is all the realities that Max has created smacking into each other and ripping reality apart. She is literally watching the world end, and it’s all her fault. Man, what a mind-fuck. Kind of feel bad for the girl. Worst part is – now she is trapped in a bunker, royally fucked, and there’s nothing she can do about any of it. This next episode is gonna be intense!
But that’s just my thoughts. What are yours? Let me know in the Comments section.
Until next time, a quote,
“My life feels so surreal at this point, I don’t know how to react anymore. I can rewind time and space, but is it aging me before my own time and space? Am i learning things I shouldn’t, messing up too much shit…including my own history? Obviously, my nosebleeds and dizzy spells are a bad sign that I’m overusing my powers, but it’s become almost part of my nature… or maybe a habit. Power corrupts? Not yet. I hope.” -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange