In one of the endings of Life Is Strange,

everything is reverted back to the original timeline, so the storm is averted because it was caused by the fact that time travel occurred at all.

However, tearing up the contest photo is never undone, as it happened before that event. So, what happened in this specific ending with the contest photograph? If it's still teared, then

time travel was not completely avoided in that timeline, as tearing up that photo was the result of time traveling.

  • Erm, I'm actually fuzzy - when exactly does Max take this photo? Before of after the game starts? – Gallifreyan Aug 25 '16 at 20:23
  • 2
    It seems it was taken before the events of the game, unless I'm mistaken. In the classroom scene it must already exist, because in one of the timelines Max can just hand it over. – vsz Aug 25 '16 at 20:25
  • Tangentially, "Everyday Heroes" is a real contest – Gallifreyan Feb 25 '17 at 17:55

I don't think it's ever revealed, since in that particular continuum we are only shown flashbacks of some important events that led to the climax.

That being said, there probably was no photograph contest in the first place, since (spoiler!!!):

Our beloved murderous-psycho photography teacher gets arrested, thanks to Chloe's dad and Max's tip. That ending though

To make it clearer, in the timeline we're referring to:

  • Max takes the picture
  • Max comes back from future
  • Max puts the antagonist in jail before the contest

As you see, there's no point in tearing the photo.

I finally understand what you're saying; must admit, this is a tricky one. We can tackle it using differential diagnosis though:

Originally, storm is caused by Max's powers; it is implied that even a tiniest change in time continuum causes the storm (i. e. the butterfly effect). Thus, we may reason that, since tearing the photo involved time travel in the first place, it is never done. It gets magically undone somehow (basically being a plot hole).

The one consistent explanation I can think of is:

  • She goes back in time to the start of the game;
  • Stuff from flashbacks happens
  • Storm still happens
  • She notices she tore the photo and goes back in time to preserve it
  • Relives everything from bullet #1 but with the ending we see.
  • Fin!
  • There is a timeline where he is arrested but the contest is still held and Max is traveling with the principal instead, but even besides this, the question is about the photo itself, not the contest, and if the photo is still teared up, it means that time travel exists even in that timeline. (and, in that ending, the arrest is not because of Max, but because of the villain is ratted out by his disciple) – vsz Aug 25 '16 at 20:25
  • @vsz villian is ratted out by Chloe's dad receiving a tip from Max; as we know, he was already spying on him – Gallifreyan Aug 25 '16 at 20:31
  • Not exactly. There is a timeline where Max travels back to the class, and sends the tip to David in an sms, using a telephone number found in a flyer inside her album. Max then wins the contest but the storm arrives while she is away. So she goes back, tearing the contest photo as soon as it is made (which is before the start of the game), but this causes Jefferson to burn her album in frustration, so Max can never send the tip. In the ending, she only goes back to the bathroom scene. I asked the question to know whether it's a plot hole or I misunderstood something. – vsz Aug 25 '16 at 20:38
  • @vsz my head hurts. My best guess is that it is indeed a plot hole. This game isn't rid of those, as frustrating as they are. Which is why I like the other ending better: "Screw you all, I'm the time-bending queen of the hill!!!". Sorry I couldn't be of any help! :( – Gallifreyan Aug 25 '16 at 20:45
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    @vsz I hope someone does, although you question being the only one with life-is-strange tag is a bit sad. – Gallifreyan Aug 25 '16 at 21:06

If you follow this flowchart (too big to post here) then you will find that the contest photo remains destroyed. Lets follow it up:

  1. Max makes the contest photo
  2. Start of the game - Max wakes up in the class
  3. ... most of the game passes, Max makes photo at the Vortex Club
  4. Chloe is killed by Jefferson, Max is awoken in the Dark Room.
  5. Max jumps into past (to point #2), warns David (Chloe's step-dad), Jefferson is arrested.
  6. Max wins the contest, goes to SF, vortex destroys her town.
  7. Max returns to the past (to the point #1) and destroys the contest photo.
  8. Max is in Dark Room, her album destroyed, Chloe is dead. David comes to rescue her.
  9. Max uses the party photo to return to #3 and saves Chloe
  10. At the beach Max makes the final decision: either she stays with Chloe or returns to #2 and let her die in the bathroom

Max never returned to the #1 after initial destruction of the photo, hence I believe that it remains destroyed - it is quite clear from the gameplay that if you return to certain point in time, every decisions made UP THAT POINT (timewise) remain the same. Also, she couldn't return to #1 because... well, she would need a contest photo to save the contest photo (and all other photos have been burned)!

Contrary to @Gallifreian I believe that only decisions that would make Chloe live past the assault in the bathroom were causing the buttefly-effect storms: in the version when she is allowed to die we know that Jefferson has been arrested: if Max had no power he would select her/Victoria as next abduction victim. It is even symbolically marked: before Chloe is assaulted in the bathroom Max makes a photo of a butterfly and similar butterfly is visible at Chloe's funeral - in other words, she was the reason for the storm, she was causing the "butterfly effect".

  • It makes sense. Also, it is heavily implied that the vortex was not caused by time travel or Max's powers in general, but by saving Chloe in particular. (so the vortex can be avoided even though some time travel did occur). It seems Chloe herself (or her survival in the bathroom) was the anomaly as she dies in every timeline except for the "sacrifice town" ending (as if the Universe was conscioulsy trying to revert that anomaly) and who knows what other catastrophes might follow in that ending where she survives. – vsz Aug 26 '16 at 6:20
  • What I now realized is how much of an anomaly the bathroom scene was. Max has two powers: one is the rewinding of a very short time which preserves her spatial position and doesn't split the timeline, and the other is the time travel with a photo, which creates an alternate timeline. Neither happened in the bathroom scene, as a simple rewind would have ended up with Max in the bathroom instead of the classroom, and no photo was used. So one could conclude that the anomaly which caused the world to glitch (and caused the impossible astronomical events) was the saving of Chloe in the bathroom. – vsz Aug 26 '16 at 6:24
  • I forgot, how does Max return to #2? – Gallifreyan Aug 26 '16 at 7:19
  • @Gallifreian : from #5 to #2? By using the selfie she took in the class. – vsz Aug 26 '16 at 8:07
  • @vsz that torn/untorn photo is really unnerving. And explanation a-la "only Chloe matters" don't make it clearer. I wonder if devs address this - maybe you could ask this on some kind of official forum? – Gallifreyan Aug 26 '16 at 8:16

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