Life Is Strange Mod Gives Max An Emo Makeover

It didn’t occur to me that people might mod Life Is Strange [official site] – I guess it seemed a better fit for Tumblr cosplay and fanfiction and fan art so I didn’t really think about people tweaking the original until the Max Punk mod turned up.

The idea is that it converts Max’s clothing, makeup and hair to present her more in line with the teen emo aesthetic. You can now imagine her listening to a lot of Evanescence and (and I’m aware of how badly I’m showing my age here) having a Livejournal. Actually, I think Max would probably have an Instagram and a Tumblr and maybe be part of all manner of classic camera communities ALSO she would probably be a really active part of the lomography community.

Here’s a comparison so you can see Max’s sleep look in the mod on the left and her original on the right:

There are a few problems here which I’ll quickly run through, but overall I think it’s really interesting to see Max this way and it’s not actually at odds with her character. There’s a mild spoiler in one of these concerns so stop reading now if you want to go in totally blank.

Thing 1: The release blog note thingy says the eye makeup makes Max more attractive and that makes me feel kind of awkward because the creator’s gender is given as male. I like the idea of Max as a female character and with interesting female friendships so I’m wary of a mod which makes her different and states that one of the reasons for those differences is making her more attractive.

I’ve experimented with emo styles of makeup and clothing before and attractiveness was part of the equation, but I was also the person in charge of the look – I had my own agency. In games and in mods this isn’t about Max’s agency because she’s a character not a person. I guess I’m okay actually using the mod because it feels like I’ve chosen to use it because it’s appropriate to how I view her character but the line about attractiveness did stick out and bother me given how I view Life Is Strange’s strengths. There’s also a chance it might just be a translation issue as the sentence is slightly clunky and the modder states they’re from Russia – maybe it’s language clunkiness. Interesting to think about where the agency lies when deploying optional mods though.

“In first version of this mod Max doesn’t have a dark makeup, but my friend AntiEvil gave to me an advice to add it. And Max became more attractive than before.”

Thing 2: It’s worth noting that Max not wearing her twee outfits and original hair and makeup means there’s a moment well into the game which will lose some of its impact, as well as a couple of lines which, if memory serves, will make a bit less sense.

Thing 3: The mod works in most of the game, but when I skipped to a different episode the recap cut scenes features Max with her regular hair and outfits which was kind of jarring.

You can also make some points about showers being disastrous for eye makeup when you’re going for the panda-eye look and the effect hair dye has on pillows but it’s a game and that side of things is where I’m fine suspending my disbelief – god, imagine how tedious it would be if you had to reapply black eye makeup as often in a game as in real life.

Overall I just really like that this thing exists and I’m hoping that more people will maybe add mods to share how they think Max would have dressed. I’m not interested in massive changes or Saints Row-style characterisations. I want to see other iterations of teen girl – the subtle variations in hair and makeup and dress that denote particular phases on the way to forming an identity.

You’ll need Texmod to run the Max Punk mod, by the way. The mod itself is on ModDB and if you’ve not used Texmod before there’s a really simple instruction video here.

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  1. int says:

    Someone should make a mod that changes that Max into Max from Sam & Max.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Or a black WatchUnderscoreDog to ride the wonderful latest and hottest gamer controversy.

    • Rich says:

      Or Max Payne. The squinty one from the first game.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Incredible Lifehack to mod it onto yourself: link to

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        But then you’d have to change the name of the game to something like “Life Is Like A Carnival Ride On A Smokey Black Hill Where The Only Salvation Is The End Of The Ride.”

        • Captain Iglo says:

          “Like all the bad things in my life, it started with the death of a woman, and then with my going back in time to prevent said death.”

      • seroto9 says:

        Max Headroom.

    • Monggerel says:

      “My name is Max.
      My world is fire and blood.”

  2. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    “I guess I’m okay actually using the mod because it feels like I’ve chosen to use it because it’s appropriate to how I view her character”

    This is really interesting to me, because my first thought on seeing the screenshots was “But Max would never do that, though.” I agree though that I’m glad it exists; never would have expected mods for this game.

    I dunno if I’ve ever felt as attached to a video game protagonist as I did to Max. Maybe it’s that the game deals more with emotional issues than most, or maybe that we get to hear Max’s internal monologue throughout, but I felt super protective of her by the end. So this mod isn’t for me–it just seems so at odds with the character as she exists in my head–but for someone who always though that *their* Max would definitely want to mess around with this style, it could be super great.

  3. Just Endless says:

    “but the line about attractiveness did stick out and bother me”

    not that i wanna start a whole thing, but people responsible for all kinds of things you enjoy probably believe stupid things and were motivated for all the wrong reasons; i can’t think of a real argument as to why this should impede enjoyment…

    tl;dr: eff that guy so what

  4. caerphoto says:

    To give the creator the benefit of the doubt, it came across to me like the attractiveness thing was more a nice side effect than even a minor reason for doing this.

    • caerphoto says:

      And in addition:

      It doesn’t feel to me like this look really fits with Max’s character. It’s more the kind of thing she wishes she was brave enough to pull off (like she envies how cool Chloe is).

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        Vandelay says:

        Agree. I would say this is pretty much at fundamental odds with where the character is at during the course of the game.

        I could see Max having and emo stage in her life (although, as the game starts with her turning 18, it is unlikely she would get around to before growing out of it,) but the game often reasserts that she lacks the courage to expose her identity to such an extent. She might have a love for taking selfies, but even her submission to the competition is of her looking away from the camera.

        As you say, this lack of confidence is one of the main reasons she looks up to Chloe so much. The character development that Life is Strange was often so strong with would definitely take a hit if you were to use this mod in your first play through.

        • kalirion says:

          “the game often reasserts that she lacks the courage to expose her identity to such an extent”

          Goth clothes and makeup can be used as a way to hide your real identity by diverting attention from it.

          • Panicintrinsica says:

            “Goth clothes and makeup can be used as a way to hide your real identity by diverting attention from it.”

            I’ve never bought that argument tbh. I’ve heard it a lot, but the majority of times I’ve heard it it’s been an assertion from someone who was never “goth” or “punk” or whatever other subculture, usually right before they tell you it’s time to “grow up and dress like an adult”.

            I’m not saying no one tries to hide behind their fashion choices, but speaking as a blue-haired adult male who wears more makeup then most teenage girls, I can tell you it’s an abjectly horrible way to go about “hiding”. It does nothing BUT draw attention to you absolutely everywhere you go, and if you’re shy/lacking in social confidence, having everyone stare at you is usually not goal #1 on your to-do list.

      • Zekiel says:

        Agree. One of Max’s defining character traits is that she isn’t a rebel. But then I’m not at all knowledgeable about goth culture so maybe I’m making a silly assumption that this style = rebellion.

        Lovely to see another mention of Life is Strange on RPS regardless!

  5. baseless_drivel says:

    The author doesn’t say the “eye makeup” makes Max more attractive, but rather the “dark makeup”. That’s a pretty important distinction there, given the context.

    Given that the goal of the mod was to make Goth Emo Max… well, dark eyeliner is kind of a given, no? Imagine Goth Max on the left with the naked face of Sleepy Max on the right — it just wouldn’t look right.

    So I think it’s more like the guy was making a Goth Max mod and couldn’t figure out why it looked “wrong,” then someone suggested “a dark makeup” (which could include lips) and naturally, it turns out better, or more “attractive” — a word with multiple nuances that might not be obvious to a non-native English speaker.

    It might be somewhat weird if they said something like “women look more attractive with makeup on,” but given the exact quote and the potential language barrier, I don’t think there’s enough info to jump to a more negative conclusion.

    Or, you could contact the author and ask them directly, if that wasn’t already attempted.

    But as far as “agency” goes, I say anything goes when it comes to mods, even if it’s offensive to me. I figure it falls into the same general area as art or hacking, as a type of creativity — at least until it starts breaking laws, of course, like graffiti or intrusion hacking.

    It’s bad enough the rabid hordes of the internet already destroy unfortunate targets’ professional and personal lives over trivial things. I really don’t think I want to see less games being modded for fear of being digitally lynched.

    • DeXiaZ says:

      I’m the author of this mod and I want to thank you for this post.

      Well, about “attractive” word in my post – baseless_drivel is right, I meant to say that Dark makeup makes her appearance more “logical” than without makeup. And yes, the language barrier…I never thought that word “attractive” can make so much…uncomfortable situation

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        To 95% of people, it doesn’t. The staff of Rock Paper Shotgun just happen to be particularly sensitive about women’s issues. I wouldn’t take the criticism too seriously.

        • benthere says:

          Oh, TheAngriestHobo, you rascal. But I think you’ll be disappointed if you read the article. The penultimate paragraph starts with, “Overall I just really like that this thing exists.”

          @DeXiaZ Sounds like an interesting mod. I’ll check it out.

      • warenhaus says:

        thank you for making the mod, DeXiaZ! and for even including a clarification on the mod’s site in response this article.

  6. kalirion says:

    I agree that this makes her more attractive, and I don’t see a problem with that. In fact, isn’t the actual complaining that a “male” modder is saying this is sexist? Is there something wrong with a guy commenting on what they find makes a girl attractive?

  7. try2bcool69 says:

    Holy crap, I’m still lol’ing about that link. Comment of the day, folks!

  8. Panicintrinsica says:

    “the effect hair dye has on pillows”

    This line made me smile. I have blue hair, and thus all of my sheets are black for exactly this reason. Over time some of the dye has managed to work it’s way through the pillowcase and onto parts of the pillow cover itself (which is thankfully washable, and most of the blue comes out with a bit of alcohol.)

    As for the mod itself…. It just feels wrong… This was easily one of my favorite “games” of all time, and I’m not sure I like the idea of changing Max in this way. I guess to each their own, as it’s not harming anyone since she’s not a real person, but it just feels wrong for the character and the narrative. The story centers so much around the relationship between Max and Chloe and the ways they’ve changed/not changed over the years that Gothing Max up only weakens the contrast between the two of them. I wouldn’t use it, but, whatever.

  9. LennyLeonardo says:

    This is like those episodes where Willow was a vampire.

  10. Kala says:

    I think she looks really good – those are great colours for her! Buut…

    ” it’s not actually at odds with her character.”

    Hm, no?

    I think indie/hipster suits Max, but emo/goth less so. I mean, both are sort of trying to be ‘I’m a sensitive soul’ while posturing in an awkward teenage way so in that sense it works ;p but the style also looks a little more…aggressive? than I’d associate with Max. (Early Max, anyway. But late Max isn’t playin’ any more).

    I’m reminded when she put on Rachel Amber’s clothes and just…couldn’t really pull it off. Everyone commented on the style change. Embarrassing :(

  11. Someoldguy says:

    I’m not sold on the mod, it doesn’t seem quite right for Max as portrayed in the story, but I’m glad you wrote an article about it. I missed the earlier discussions about it and this article prompted me to investigate. Just played the game through for the first time and found it really enjoyable, although probably not enough to want to go back and hunt for the missed photographs. The one ongoing save slot approach really makes it fustrating when you realise you’ve overshot one and have no way to backtrack.

  12. warenhaus says:

    has this been said on here? just to make sure it has: BAE>BAY!