Besides telling a story of friendship and romance, Life is Strange has an air of mysticism to it. Dying animals, sudden snowfall, and an unexpected eclipse? The events of this game go beyond scientific explanation or human understanding; there’s something truly supernatural about them!
The narrative ends up having so many layers, and the characters are all incredibly nuanced. This got me to thinking: what others things are mystical, rich with meaning, and full of symbolism? Tarot cards, of course! After doing a little research, I realized just how perfectly many of the key players and situations in Life is Strange fit into the cards. Read on and see for yourself.
Max Caulfield – The High Priestess
The High Priestess card represents intuition, creativity, and both the understanding of and access to unconscious realms. Not only is Max soft-spoken and artsy, but she possesses the ability to rewind time. The pomegranates depicted on the card are a symbol of duty, as Max feels obligated to help all of the people in her life, and the detail of the robe being blue shows her knowledge.
Powerful and wise, the High Priestess is truly the mediator of the passage into the depth of reality. However, when the card is reversed, it’s said to mean you’ve lost touch with your inner voice or are distracted by worries and anxiety. This could even lead to becoming overwhelmed by gossip, manipulating others, and having a hidden agenda. Remember how you can go back and alter conversations with new information you uncover? Just how much of that is toward the greater good, and how much of it is Max simply wanting to be liked?
Chloe Price – Death
I assumed that Chloe would end up being the Death card before I looked up its full meaning, as she has such bad luck and frequently gets into dangerous situations around Max, but it goes deeper than that. This card represents a major transition or change. After five years apart, Chloe radically changes Max’s life when they meet again.
Then the Death card reversed means being stuck in limbo because you don’t want to let go of the past. Chloe doesn’t want to accept that Rachel Amber is gone; she continues to print out Missing Person fliers months after her disappearance, and she always tells Max that once they find Rachel the three of them should run away together. Even when they find her dead body, Chloe is blinded by thoughts of revenge and doesn’t want to deal with the truth. Also, she has never let go of her father passing away, making it that much harder for David Madsen to feel welcome in her life as her new step-father.
Kate Marsh – The Star
Both sides of the Star card can be seen in Kate Marsh’s story during Life is Strange. The reversed card indicates discouragement, despair, or depression in the face of your spiritual mission. Her breakdown and loss of faith are clear when she climbs to the roof and prepares to end her life. However, the Star card is meant to symbolize renewed hope and a sense of purpose when it’s right-side up. Kate is helpful, vulnerable, and tender-hearted. She just needs a bit of compassion in order to reach mental stability and the better future that awaits her. If you’re able to save her, it’s easy to see that she’s endured life’s challenges, but like the Star she’s now ready for healing and transformation.
Warren Graham – The Fool
I’m not trying to say Warren isn’t smart, because he’s actually one of the more intelligent characters in the game. Rather, I associate him with this card because it represents being innocent and carefree. The Fool knows that there are many choices to be made and he’s always a proponent of going with your gut, just as Warren encourages Max to go in the direction she knows is right. When the Fool card is reversed, it shows recklessness (beating up Nathan in the dorm hallway) or a relationship with an uncertain future (how things will go with either Max or Brooke).
Victoria Chase – The Moon
Getting to know Victoria feels a lot like wandering in the dark, but she’s more than just a heartless bitch. As the game progresses, you learn more and more about her, uncovering hidden truths much like the Moon. This card is drawn when someone is seeing their shadow self or projecting their inferiority onto someone else, like Victoria does with Max. If it is reversed, that means liberation from your inner fears, which hints at who she could become.
Nathan Prescott – Wheel of Fortune
Though Nathan is an enigma for much of the game, we do know that his life has spun out of control in many ways. Much like the Wheel of Fortune, he’s subject to external forces, feeling powerless and resigned to wherever they lead him. Nathan’s father is woefully ill-equipped to deal with his son’s drug addiction and mental health, and Mr. Jefferson stepping into this paternal role brings more harm than good. Neither money nor influence can bring Nathan the security he craves, so he keeps turning in the hopes that he can outrun his bad karma, especially all that he earned in relation to Rachel’s death.
Rachel Amber – The Sun
Rachel’s resemblance to the Sun card should be fairly obvious. When she was alive, she radiated positivity and light, and everyone was drawn to her energy. She was many things to many people: a friend, a lover, a party-goer, and a muse. This card also represents enlightenment and new insight, as Rachel is the driving force behind Max and Chloe’s investigation, helping them put the pieces together to learn what really goes on in the Dark Room.
Mark Jefferson – The Devil
The Devil is a master of deception and illusion, much like an outwardly charming man who ends up being a psychopath. One of the meanings this card has is about becoming addicted to or obsessed with a particular idea, which definitely applies to Mr. Jefferson’s sick and unusual style of photography.
On the card itself, the Devil has the wings of a bat, which show he’ll suck the life out of anyone who gets too close to him. It also pictures both a man and woman in chains, who I would say are Nathan and Kate. They’ve been made to think they’re under his control, but they have the potential to break free. When this card is reversed, it means having an awareness of negative influences, or Max and Chloe discovering the truth and removing his power.
David Madsen – Justice
There are other cards in the Major Arcana that deal with lawfulness and following the rules, but I chose the Justice card for David because it has less of a balanced perspective. He goes through life preoccupied with the search for truth and catalogs his findings with legal meticulousness. While this does ultimately assist Max and Chloe in their investigation, it comes from a place of paranoia and arrogant righteousness. It’s worth noting that the Justice card reversed reflects biased thinking, a black-and-white view of the world, an inability to see the deeper meaning behind events, and an unwillingness to admit your mistakes. All of these character traits are true for David up until the very end.
Other elements of the story can be found in the Tarot as well. For instance, the Tower card represents the oncoming storm, as well as the potentially dark fates of Nathan and Kate once they are free from the Devil. The World card is the alternate ending where Max wins the Everyday Heroes contest (symbolizing great accomplishment and world travel), The Hanged Man card represents sacrificing Chloe (putting yourself aside in favor of the greater good), and The Lovers card represents sacrificing Arcadia Bay (making choices on a grand scale and having a deep, passionate connection with your soulmate).