Max Caulfield in Life Strange Double Exposure, new look
Image via Deck Nine Games

Max Caulfield’s New Life Is Strange Look Doesn’t Deserve the Hate

Do Max's bangs really define her?

We’ve had quite the wait for another Life Is Strange game since the release of True Colors, but we’ve finally got another exciting entry coming at the end of 2024 with Life Is Strange: Double Exposure. In this return, we’ll play the fan-loved character, Max, who we were first introduced to in the initial Life Is Strange game. However, fans didn’t quite recognize her in the trailer.

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Max has a slightly different look for the upcoming game. Although her hair color and length are about the same, she’s missing her iconic blunt bangs and prominent freckles. This immediately triggered a response from fans, who called out and hated these changes to the original character we all know and love. However, I personally feel like there are some excellent reasons behind the changes, and, ultimately, they are doing nothing else but breathing new life into Max.

New Hair, Don’t Care

The main reason behind Max’s “unrecognizable” look is her hair. We saw Max with bangs in the first Life Is Strange game, but in the trailer of the upcoming game, Max is without bangs. However, despite not having bangs, her hair remains the same brownish-red color and length. Considering that people can grow out their bangs or cut their hair whenever they want, it’s not totally unreasonable for Max to change up her hairstyle just slightly.

The only major difference between the old and new models is the bangs. SingleState9269 on Reddit posted the new model with some bangs drawn on to show just how similar she remains. She still has some freckles and the main appearance details that the old Max does. If anything, she just looks a bit older and drawn in a slightly different art style.

Life Is Strange Original Max hairstyle and new max with drawn bangs
Image by GameSkinny via SingleState9269 on Reddit

Double Exposure Time Jump

Another perfectly good reason for Max’s change in appearance is the time difference. When we saw Max for the first time, she was about 18 years old. Each Life Is Strange game release jumps about three years on the timeline (not counting Before the Storm, which was two years prior):

  • Life Is Strange 1: 2013 (Released in 2015)
  • Life Is Strange 2: 2016 (Released in 2018)
  • True Colors: 2019 (Released in 2021)

The last time we see any type of reference to Max is briefly in Life Is Strange 2 when Sean comes across an image of Max and Chloe in David Madsen’s Trailer (only if the player chose to save Chloe instead of Arcadia Bay).

If this timeline is correct, we can assume Max is 21 in Life Strange 2. We can already see a slight change in her appearance in this photo, specifically in her hairstyle. Her bangs are already less than they were before, growing in length with the rest of her hair. That means, if we follow the same timeline jump for this new game, it’ll be 2022, and Max will be about ten years older than she was in the first game.

In Double Exposure, she’ll be 27/28 years old, and there will be even more time for her face to mature and to grow out of her geeky bangs completely. Honestly, the transition isn’t that drastic when looking at the Life Is Strange 2 cameo image and her brand-new model.

Graphical Differences

There is a significant time jump in the game timeline and the release dates between the two games, as well. The first Life Is Strange game was released all the way back in 2015. Back then, the graphics in the first game were pretty impressive, but when comparing it to a game released in 2024, there’s a notable difference.

One of the main reasons players might notice a huge change in Max’s appearance is the updated graphics. Her face’s shadows and textures are more detailed, there are light reflections in her eyes, and most importantly, the developers are now using full-face scans for the animations. If anything, this makes Max look even better and more realistic than she ever did before.

Deck Nine vs. Don’t Nod

Lastly, there is bound to be a slight difference in appearance due to the developers changing. Don’t Nod released the first Life Is Strange game back in 2015, as well as Life Is Strange 2 and Captain Spirit following. However, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, Life Is Strange: True Colors and the remastered games were released by Deck Nine. With Don’t Nod stepping down, Deck Nine is taking charge of any game releases going forward, including Double Exposure.

The two developers have slightly different art styles, which is evident when comparing the past games. We even could see a change in Max with Deck Nine’s remaster of the old games. The lighting changes and the face shapes differ slightly. We go from a paint-like cartoon art style to a more realistic cartoon style.

I personally feel that the remaster brought a lot more depth into Max’s appearance. There is more light and life behind her eyes, and her hair has more texture. Rather than just being specks on her face, her freckles actually blend into her skin. The original has nostalgic value, which is probably the main reason for fans getting so defensive about it. But, the remaster allows for Max’s facial expressions to come through. These types of details will undoubtedly carry into the Double Exposure Max, as evident from the trailer we’ve seen so far.

Overall, there’s really no reason to hate the subtle differences in appearances. Max is still the character we all know and love; she’s even being voiced by the same voice actor as before, Hannah Telle. And she still obviously has a talent and passion for cameras from the looks of it. Her looks only make up a portion of who she is; they don’t define her as a character as a whole.

I think we should all find it in ourselves to welcome the new changes and grow with Max in the upcoming game. It’s a pleasant surprise we’re even getting to revisit her at all!

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Abby Smith
Abby Smith is a super nerd and video game fanatic who grew up playing games on a variety of platforms. Since graduating, she has worked in the online journalism field for over three years. She likes to spend her free time binge-watching Netflix, reading all genres of novels, and playing all the best new video games. She is currently a full-time Staff Writer for GameSkinny, and as an alumni from Full Sail University, also enjoys dabbling in creative writing such as short stories, scripts, and comics on the side.