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Max Caulfield
Life Is Strange character
Concept artwork of Max
First appearance "Chrysalis" (2015)
Created by Dontnod Entertainment
Voiced by English
Hannah Telle
Kumi Tanaka
Occupation Photographer

Maxine Caulfield, better known as Max, is a fictional character and playable protagonist of Life Is Strange. She is played by actor Hannah Telle, who provided the voice and motion capture for the character. She is an aspiring photographer and senior at Blackwell Academy when she left her mom and dad in Seattle for the seaside town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, where she grew up, which forms the basis of the plot of Life is Strange.

Life Is Strange 2, a sequel of the original game, was inspired by Max Caulfield who found out that she had developed supernatural powers similar to the protagonist of the Life Is Strange 2, despite the absence of Max in the game. She also appeared in "Farewell", a bonus episode to Before the Storm.

Character development

In an interview for Polygon in June 2015, Michel Koch stated that Max is "always looking to the past. She has this old camera, she's reluctant to make decisions. Christian Divine has been writing her [in a way that] sometimes she's using some older expressions." Max Caulfied was a Dontnod Entertainment's second title female protagonist. Dontnod published a developer diary that said most prospective publishers were unwilling to publish a game unless it had a male protagonist. Most publishers had the same objection to Dontnod's first project, Remember Me a female protagonist. Dontnod CEO Oskar Guilbert also challenged the idea at the start. Square Enix was the only publisher with no intention to change the female protagonist. Dontnod co-founder Jean-Maxime Moris said gender equality in video games was "a great debate to have", but "we're not pretending to address the issue or use the issue to stand out from the rest". The lead character Max was created with the ability to rewind time to supplement this mechanism. It was decided on that most of the budget be spent on the writing and voice actors of the characters such as Max. It was subsequently handed over to Christian Divine and Cano to be fine tuned in English. Story and character development were highlighted over point-and-click puzzles, making choice and consequence integral to how the narrative unfolds. Hannah Telle auditioned for Max Caulfield in July 2014 and was offered the part; Ashly Burch auditioned for both Max and her given role Chloe Price. The recording sessions were done in Los Angeles, California, with the French developer brought in via Skype. Visual effects like post-processes, double exposure and overlapping screen space particles were used as an artistic approach to be displayed while the lead character rewinds time. The Catcher in the Rye was an additional source of inspiration, whose protagonist Holden Caulfield shares a surname with Max, the game's lead. The characters were created using known archetypes, at first to establish an entry point for the player, and then to subvert them. For the sake of serving the realism, the supernatural elements were designed as a metaphor for the characters' inner conflict, and experts were consulted to tackle the subject of teen suicide.

In Life Is Strange

Maxine "Max" Caulfield, is a protagonist twelfth grade student attending Blackwell Academy during October 2013. During photography class with her teacher Mark Jefferson, Max experiences a vision of a lighthouse being destroyed by a swelling tornado. Leaving for the restroom to regain her composure, she witnesses classmate Nathan Prescott (Nik Shriner) kill a woman in a fit of rage. In a single, sudden effort, she develops the ability to rewind time and rescues the girl, revealed to be her best friend Chloe Price. The two reunite and go for a walk at the lighthouse, where Max reveals to Chloe her capacity to travel back in time. It is established that the vision is rather the reckoning of a future event: a storm approaching the town. The next day, Max observes fellow student Kate Marsh being bullied for a viral video depicting her kissing several students at a party.

Meeting Chloe at the diner where her mother Joyce works, they decide to experiment with Max's power at Chloe's secret scrapyard hideout. However, strain causes Max to have a nosebleed and faint. Chloe takes her back to Blackwell, but class is halted when everyone is called out to the courtyard. Kate commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the girls' dorm. Max manages to rewind and time stops unexpectedly as she reaches Kate, giving Max the opportunity to convince her to come down. Max ultimately resolves to uncover what happened to Kate and Chloe's missing friend Rachel Amber. Max and Chloe break into the principal's office that night to investigate and enter the pool for a swim before evading David Madsen , head of security at Blackwell and Chloe's stepfather, and fleeing back to Chloe's place. The next morning, they sneak into the motorhome of Frank Bowers, drug dealer and friend of Rachel, and learn that Rachel was in a relationship with Frank and lied to Chloe about it, causing Chloe to storm off feeling betrayed. Max returns to her dormitory and examines a childhood photo of her and Chloe, but is suddenly transported to the day the picture was taken. Max prevents Chloe's father William from dying in a traffic collision, which inadvertently creates an alternative reality where William is alive but Chloe has been paralysed from the neck down as a result of a collision in her own car.

Max uses the photo to undo her decision and return to the present day, restoring Chloe's health. Continuing their investigation, Max and Chloe obtain clues leading them to an abandoned barn owned by the influential Prescott family. They discover a hidden bunker containing pictures of Kate and Rachel tied up and intoxicated, with Rachel being buried at Chloe's secret hideout. They hurry back to the scrapyard and find Rachel's grave, much to Chloe's despair. Max follows Chloe at the school party to confront Nathan, believing he will target fellow student Victoria Chase. They receive a text from Nathan threatening to destroy the evidence, returning them to the scrapyard. All of a sudden, the two are ambushed by Jefferson, who anaesthetises Max and kills Chloe with a shot to the head. Max is kidnapped and held captive in the "Dark Room", a place Jefferson has been drugging and photographing young girls to capture their innocence. Jefferson also reveals that he took Nathan on as a personal student, but killed him before abducting Max due to him giving Rachel an overdose when he tried to mimic Jefferson's work, and intends to do the same to Max after he has the photos he wants. Max escapes into a photograph and emerges back at the beginning in Jefferson's class. She alerts David, getting Jefferson (and Nathan) arrested.

Max is given the opportunity to go to San Francisco and have one of her photos displayed in an art gallery. She calls Chloe from the event, realizing that, for all her effort, the storm has reached Arcadia Bay. Max travels back to the time at which she took the gallery photo, which eventually leads her to sojourn alternative realities as they devolve into a dreamscape nightmare. Max and Chloe finally return to the lighthouse and confront the fact that Max brought the storm into existence by saving Chloe from being shot by Nathan earlier in the week. The only way to prevent it is for Max to go back to that moment via a photo she took and allow Chloe to be killed by Nathan. Max must make a choice: sacrifice Chloe's life to save Arcadia Bay, or sacrifice Arcadia Bay to spare Chloe.