Love is Strange (LISVN) is a fan-made visual novel and dating simulator based on Life is Strange, that takes place in an alternate universe with no time travel powers, without the storm and the Dark Room events happening. Max Caulfield has been back in Arcadia Bay for more than a year and the player is able to romance Chloe Price, Rachel Amber, Kate Marsh, or Victoria Chase. It was released on April 1, 2016.
"In Love is Strange, you play as Max Caulfield, an 18-year-old in her second year at the prestigious Blackwell Academy in the fictional picturesque seaside town Arcadia Bay, Oregon. Max, who aspires to become a famous photographer, finds herself challenged by the prospect of entering a photography contest hosted by her school. To be able to enter the contest, she has to pick a partner to work with. From there on out, what happens is up to you."
- Max Caulfield
- Chloe Price
- Rachel Amber
- Kate Marsh
- Victoria Chase
- Mx. Dog
There are four routes and nine endings. There is a "normal ending" and a "true ending" for each route, and a "bad ending" shared by all routes. These endings are determined by the player's decisions in the game, which are linked to "approval points". The higher your approval, the more positive your ending and storyline will be. Higher approval will also unlock exclusive scenes.
Each romance route ranges from a length of 30,000 words to 42,000 words. This includes all branching scenes and dialogue, so no one playthrough will see every possible part of a route. It will take quite a few hours to play through each route at least once.
On Monday, Max enlists Chloe to help her with the contest photo. They talk for a while, Chloe teasing Max about her high-pitched voice and discussing the contest prize. They then agree to meet up at the Two Whales Diner the next day to discuss the contest.
On Tuesday, Chloe arrives late to the diner, asking Max if she's mad at her tardiness. Depending on Max's answer, Chloe's approval points will vary. Chloe then teasingly asks Max to marry her and "buy [her] food for the rest of [their] lives". Max is confused, unsure if Chloe's joking or flirting. Chloe questions Max about what she ordered her for breakfast; if Max got Chloe eggs and bacon or pancakes, Chloe will be happy, but if she got her oatmeal Chloe will be disappointed. After finishing her food, Chloe will attempt to have the rest of Max's. They discuss the contest, and Max admits that she's nervous, but Chloe reassures her. Chloe is then bashful, wondering why Max chose her as her partner despite Chloe's lack of photographic talent, and it's Max's turn to be reassuring. Chloe then asks Max where she wants to take the photo.
If Max picks the photo location, they will go to the lighthouse. They reminisce over the times they had there when they were younger. Both Max and Chloe think that being there feels strange and that everything feels smaller, and Chloe suggests it's because they're older now.
If Max lets Chloe pick the photo location, Chloe will surprise Max by "blindfolding" her by putting her beanie over Max's eyes. When they get there, Chloe reveals they are at a junkyard; in this timeline, it is the first time Max sees the junkyard. Max can either insult or praise the junkyard, earning or losing approval points. They swordfight each other with old curtain rods and play at pirates; Max wins the fight, as Chloe trips over some tires and falls down.
In both locations, Chloe then reveals that she plans to leave Arcadia Bay temporarily. She is afraid that she will never be able to leave Arcadia Bay, and she doesn't want that to happen. Max is upset, but tries to understand.
Max wakes up on Wednesday, pondering Chloe's news. She goes to the bathroom and has a conversation with Chloe, who remarks that Max looks strange and asks if she's okay. She can tell Chloe that she's just tired and has a lot on her mind, which will make Chloe upset, or Max can say she's thinking of Chloe, which pleases her. Chloe mentions that she has plans with Rachel, but if she'll be free later on if Max wishes to work on the contest entry. Max tells her that she just wants to hang out and have a "Max and Chloe" day, and promises a surprise.
Max goes to her room, brainstorming ideas for a gift for Chloe. She can choose to make her a mixtape, buy her a snow globe, or give her a photo of them as tweens, dressed like pirates.
They meet at the boardwalk. They talk for a bit, and Max has the option to flirt a little. Max eventually reveals the surprise to Chloe; if she gives her the mixtape or photo, Chloe will be happy. But if she gives her the snow globe, Chloe will be disappointed, since she can't take a fragile glass dome with her on a bumpy car ride. Chloe then receives a text from her mother asking her to come home so they can make dinner together. If Max has high approval with Chloe, Chloe will invite Max back to her house for dinner, sleepover and a movie, otherwise if Max has low approval with Chloe, Chloe will ignore her mother and go to the beach with Max.
Achievements (called "Achieves") are unlocked by making certain choices along the way. Their design is inspired by the in-game achievements of Life is Strange. Special thanks to cthulhulegobrick5ever for their work in collating this list of achievements.
|Partners in Crime |
Make the world bow
|Ready for Your Close-Up? |
An artist meets a muse
|A Little Faith |
A gentle approach
|Double Exposure |
You got oatmeal for Chloe. Of course, she hated it
|Product Placement |
This game was brought to you by hexagon-enix
Choose to watch Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within with Chloe.
|Oh captain! My captain! |
The prize we sought is won
Choose the location for the photo with Chloe. When searching for the box, say you don't want to search for it without her.
Right or wrong, baby, right or wrong
Tease Chloe that she can't get enough of you (possibly after extensive flirting).
|Run Away with Me |
I'd run away with you
Get Chloe's true ending. (Absolute factors are unclear, but it helps to be incredibly favorable towards Chloe in every interaction with her.)
|Wildest Dreams |
Say you'll see me again
Get Chloe's normal ending. (Absolute factors are unclear. It is possible to get this ending by ordering Chloe oatmeal, giving her a snow globe, fighting with her rather than flirting with her, and not calling Chloe stupid in the junkyard on Thursday.)
|Nothing Gold Can Stay |
So dawn goes down to day
|Poster of a Girl |
Looking on the bright side when there is no bright side
Ask Rachel about the "Rachel is a Whore" graffiti.
|Fire Walk With Me |
Through the darkness of future's past
Use the fortune machine with Rachel.
You say you want your freedom
At the photoshoot on Thursday, ask Rachel if she's going to ask Chloe to go with her to LA.
Don't let yourself be hurt this time
Get Rachel's true ending. (Absolute factors are unclear, but it helps to say things that Rachel likes, allow her to be herself, and skip school at least once. As a present, Lavender Oil is the best choice. Generally - just be Max.)
Buy me a star on the boulevard
Get Rachel's normal ending. (Absolute factors are unclear. It is possible to get this ending by never skipping school, and/or avoiding options that make Rachel happy, and/or giving Rachel a feather earring. Also, don't tell Rachel that she can't be everyone's muse or ask her who cares about that on Thursday.)
|Joke's on You |
Well that fell flat
|Cold Shoulder |
Well damn Kate I can't control the weather
When Kate gets cold after the trip to the boardwalk, tease her instead of offering your jacket.
This is our chance to beat the bullies...
Say you're proud of Kate in her room. Her line about getting mean unlocks this achievement.
|Touched by an Angel |
A blessing from on high
When Kate questions why you let her be the subject of the contest photo, say that you didn't even think about it.
|Take Me to Church |
And I will give you the rest
Get Kate's true ending. (Absolute factors are unclear, but it helps to be kind to Kate, and give her the picture book.)
Cast some light, it'll be alright
Get Kate's normal ending. (Absolute factors are unclear. It is possible to get this ending by insulting Kate at multiple points, giving her a toy bunny (you can get the true ending despite giving her the bunny though) and not telling her that you took the picture because you feel bad for her.)
|Back to the |
Choose the location of the shoot with Victoria. When she says she expected a more bland location, pick the lighthouse.
|Deja Vu |
Choose the white jeans when shopping with Victoria.
|Fuck My Selfie |
Don't give Victoria the anime figurine or give it to her with low enough approval that she doesn’t invite you over. Max will automatically send Victoria a selfie, unlocking this achievement.
Spend the night with Victoria (requires giving her the anime figurine). Afterwards, wake her up.
|Addicted to You |
Get Victoria's true ending.
(Absolute factors are unclear, but it helps to say things that Victoria likes, show confidence, ask about her emotional state, and give her the anime figurine.)
|Cliff's Edge |
Get Victoria's normal ending.
(Absolute factors are unclear. It is possible to get this ending by going with Victoria's idea for a photo location, not showing confidence, giving Victoria cookies or shades, and being blunt with Victoria's feelings.)
Now you're stuck in the girlfriendless-zone
- Fighting with Chloe, refusing to ditch school to take a photo, and calling Chloe stupid in the junkyard.
- Telling Victoria that you thought she would want to submit her photo, then say that you're surprised she would let you submit yours later on.
- Consistently make Kate feel like you pity her, then tell her that you included her in the photo because you feel bad for her.
- Make Rachel feel like you think she's perfect, ask about all of the graffiti around campus, and tell her that she can't be everyone's muse or ask who cares about that on Thursday.
|Love is… Hard |
Get all four "Sadface" endings.
|Love is… Weird |
Get "Run Away With Me," "Wildest Dreams," "Falling," "Californication," "Take Me to Church," "Crosses," "Addicted to You," and "Cliff's Edge."
|Life is Gay |
Ambiguous. Possibly unlocked by getting every achievement. (May be bugged.)
A selection of playthrough photos can be viewed from the "Gallery" option on the Main Menu.
A gallery of background art featured in the game. Arranged in photo gallery order as they are unlocked.
Arranged in photo gallery order as they are unlocked.
- Choose the location of the photo.
- Have Chloe choose the location of the photo.
- When she first asks you to skip school, agree.
- When she first asks you to skip school, disagree.
- Choose the location of the photo.
- Have Kate choose the location of the photo.
- Choose the location of the photo.
- Have Victoria choose the location of the photo.
Arranged in photo gallery order as they are unlocked.
Bonus photos are supposed to unlock at achievement milestones, but Tumblr user cthulhulegobrick5ever does not believe this works as intended.
- Project Lead, Programming : TheGadgetFish
- Programmer : Thehaakun
- QA, Scripter, Achievement & Gift Artist : Mostlymilkwood
- Chloe Route : Lesbianmax
- Kate Route : Gaychloeprice
- Intro, Rachel Route, Journal : Mjrrgr a.k.a. Major Rager
- Victoria Route : Eiprej
- Sprite, Journal Artist: Kunaike
- Background, UI Artist : Anhdang
- Ending, Journal Artist : Yuripirate
- Contest, Bonus Photo Artist : Maxmyhipstersock
- Musician : Workard
- The software that is used for this game is called Ren'Py. Its language is based off Python.
- The game rating is Mature for language and pg-13 for story/image content.
- The official statement to why there aren't any male romance options in the game is: "Life is Strange is one of those rare games that the LGBTQIA+ community can really relate to. Representation is a hard thing to come by, and having a VN limited to female romances is very important to the team."
- It took about half a year to make the game with a core team of 12 people (and some support from others at various stages of development).
- The movie Max and Victoria watch in the Victoria route is Princess Mononoke, an anime classic directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
- The texting font is Helveti Hand.
- Mx. is the nonbinary term analogous with Mr. or Mrs. It is pronounced "mix" or "mixter".
- Here is what you need to do to completely restart the game to get all the achievements etc. again.
- Some of the achievements are references:
- Ready For Your Close-Up? - Deliberate misquote of a famous line from Sunset Boulevard.
- Nothing Gold Can Stay - A famous poem by Robert Frost (1923). Alyssa Anderson quotes a Robert Frost poem ("The Road Not Taken") in Episode 4, so "Nothing Gold Can Stay" as an achievement title was chosen deliberately for Rachel as well as being a reference to the first game. The poem is about how everything beautiful eventually dies.
- Poster of a Girl - A song by Canadian rock band Metric. It is described by the author of the Rachel Route as "very Rachel" and because she literally was on a poster in the original game. The achievement icon is based on Rachel's photo on her missing poster in the original game.
- Fire Walk with Me - The prequel film to the Twin Peaks television drama.
- Dreams - Once you unlock this achievement, the quote that you see is a line from the Fleetwood Mac song by the same title. The author also associates Rachel with classic rock with a "beachy," California, vintage vibe.
- Falling - The name of the Twin Peaks theme song.
- Californication - A song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Very Rachel" due to her California roots and her desire to head to LA.
- Oh captain! My captain! - The title of this achievement and its description is a reference to the poem O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman.
- Take Me to Church - Take Me to Church is a song by Hozier.
- Run Away with Me - Run Away with Me is a song by Carly Rae Jepsen.
- Wildest Dreams - Wildest Dreams is a song by Taylor Swift.
- Crosses - Crosses is a song by José González that plays in the original Life is Strange. The description of this achievement contains part of the lyrics of the song.
- Rachel Route:
- The journal picture on page 26 is a drawing by the background artist's 7-year-old sister of Ariana Grande.
- The author made Rachel a vegetarian in the game, which she says is just a personal headcanon and was not based on anything in the original game.
- The author's interpretation of Rachel is that she's bisexual.
- There are 13 scenes in total made for Rachel's route. In one playthrough, you will only see 9 of these. The different branching dialogue paths will introduce other scenes which increases replayability.
- The final word count for the Rachel route script is 44,000 words written over 6 months.
- All scripts were written on Google Docs in a shared drive.
- "Michel the Mystic" fortune teller is the author's reference to Michel Koch from Dontnod Entertainment. She says this is because he did a lot of interviews and was quite vocal about the game and made a lot of comments that made some fans not so happy about his vision of the game, so the author decided to make him the mystic who gives you a fortune that is hokey and not satisfying (and this was intentional).
- The author likes an alternate scene where you head back to Blackwell with Rachel as she feels it fleshes the route out and adds a lot to the game.
- During a playthrough of the Rachel route, the route's writer tried to put into perspective how amazing it is that this project came into being and how hard everybody had worked to see it through to its end. She said, "The thing about fan projects is a lot of them, they don't come alive. The thing is that, most of these fan projects... people get really excited about them at the beginning and then they get burned out at the end."
- In the game's Ren'py script, all character routes have a true ending (TrueEnd) and a good ending (GoodEnd), except for Chloe's route which has a true ending and a "meh" ending (MehEnd).
- Official Reveal
- Team Reddit AMA
- DEV POST: WRITER’S CORNER - KATE ROUTE
- DEV POST: WRITER’S CORNER - CHLOE ROUTE
- DEV POST: WRITER’S CORNER - VICTORIA ROUTE