Life is Strange has been a rather distinguished series from Square Enix. It explores a more emotional side of the players, unlike the raging side that most modern AAA titles exploit. Ever since its inception in 2015, the series has come a long way. Life is Strange: True Colors is the fifth installment in the series. It was one of my most anticipated games of the year, and it didn’t fail me.
What’s New This Time?
Life is Strange: True Colors is different from the earlier games in this series. The game centers around a young woman named Alex. While Max and Daniel were busy understanding their newfound abilities to reverse time and telekinesis, respectively, Alex has known her ability for quite some time. She sees strange auras around people if they are under strong negative emotions. The only ability Alex discovers during the game is the ability to sense good emotions like happiness.
Most of the game revolves around a small town named Haven Springs. The game is filled with small-town vibes and follows a unity of place.
The main events of the game set off pretty late. While Life is Strange has been known for creating suspense early on, Gabe’s death comes around only at the end of the first chapter. The game focuses on Alex figuring out the cause of his brother Gabe’s death and recovering from the same.
Life is Strange: True Colors is a third-person graphic adventure game. The player controls the protagonist, Ms. Alex Chen. She is a 21-year-old, almost 22-year-old woman. The player can control Alex’s movements, interact with objects, and communicate with other NPCs. The player is also required to take important decisions that define Alex’s actions.
Communication takes place in the form of a pre-determined dialogue tree. Some dialogues have consequences, including determining how the game progresses. Others are optional. Some don’t frame the story, while the rest are skippable.
Alex has a psychic empathy power that enables her to perceive the NPCs’ emotions. The game refers to Alex’s ability as a superpower. She can interact with NPCs facing trauma or hardship, which transfers the world the way the NPC imagines it to be. Alex then can walk around it and work out what troubles the NPC. The game has several mandatory and optional instances of Alex helping NPCs by using her superpower.
Plot and Development of Characters
The game follows a non-linear line of development. In the beginning, we see Alex Chen leaving foster care. She travels from Portland, Oregon, to Haven Springs, Colorado. Haven Springs is a fictional picturesque town. Most of the game takes place in and around Haven Springs and its few inhabitants.
Alex is introduced to a truckload of characters as she enters town. But, by the beginning of the second chapter, the player gets well acquainted with all the characters.
The first act focuses on reflecting upon Alex’s relationship with her brother Gabe. It also focuses on introducing her to all the characters and her apartment. The game introduces you to Alex’s ability when she gets terrified at her fighting brother. As a result, she beats up Mac Loudon, who accused Gabe of cheating with her girlfriend.
The story takes a sharp turn from the celebrating mood as Gabe gets killed in an accident while trying to save Ethan, Gabe’s girlfriend’s son. Ethan went hiking into the old mines, but he didn’t return till late. Gabe, Ryan, and Alex went up into the mountains to save Ethan because Typhon, the mining company, scheduled a blast to mine uranium.
The second act focuses on Haven’s recovery from Gabe’s death. The second act focuses on strengthening Alex’s relationships with characters from around the town. Mac’s panic attack keeps the story moving forward as he claims Typhon ignored his call.
The second act seems slow. The only event that takes the game forward is Mac’s panic attack. This makes sense after the action-filled first act. The player gets some time to walk around the town and strengthen their relationships with the characters.
The third act feels unnecessary. It focuses on Live-Action Roleplay with very little input to the development of the story. It seems like a waste of time as you can’t skip the considerably long game-within-a-game.
This act plays an important role in character development. It is a showcase of the small-town theme of True Colours. However, the game springs back to speed towards the end of the act with Charlotte’s anger. Charlotte is Ethan’s mom and Gabe’s ex-girlfriend. She is heartbroken due to Gabe’s death and blames everybody, including herself. The player gets a chance to explore Charlotte’s anger, which undoubtedly is one of the most emotionally challenging situations in the game. Charlotte even confesses that she hated Ethan. The game gives the player a choice to either take away Charlotte’s anger or let her stay with it.
Personally, this was a very tough decision. I acted out of conscience and let Charlotte go off a state which wasn’t of her creation.
Chapter four is fast-paced. It begins with Haven’s Spring Festivals. The Spring Festival is yet another small-town event like the LARP. I thoroughly enjoyed having a walk around it. Alex even performs in the Spring Festivals with DJ Stephanie Gingrich. She gets a chance to “offer a rose” to either Steph or Ryan.
But the game takes a sharp turn as Alex gets arrested by Deputy Pike. She is interrogated, and the player gets a chance to explore the inspector’s fear. The mystery starts to unfold as Alex finds out Typhon is trying to subdue her and her quest for justice.
Later in the night, she meets with Jed in the bar. Jed informs Alex that he knew why Typhon set off the explosion. He takes Alex to show it. The game takes another turn as Jed pushes Alex down a mineshaft.
Alex survives the fall. She walks around the mines and discovers Jed’s massacre. She walks out of the mine in the morning, arrives at Haven, and reveals Jed’s actual identity.
The game speeds up as Jed is arrested, and Typhon’s CEO is asked to resign. We get a happy ending with Alex speaking to her dead brother, who helps her decide her next step. She can either choose to live in Haven or leave the town to go big with her music skills.
Thoughts on the Game
The game is pretty short, with most of the action occurring within the first and the last two acts. It feels more like a spin-off.
However, I cannot deny that it played like an emotional roller coaster. The development of the story was solid. Deck Nine did a great job with facial animations, body language, and sound design. The players feel exactly as the characters feel in a situation.
The game does benefit from the upgraded visuals, thanks to a new engine.
Deck Nine also outdid the series creator Dontnod Entertainment in setting up the vibe of the game. Throughout the game, I felt cozy and put together in the small-town theme. The characters did not feel repetitive. Interactions and dialogues were spaced out with timely twists to keep the player engaged and guessing till the end.
The game did start slowly. The main event comes across only at the end of the first chapter. However, I do feel this was necessary. The entire game focuses on Gabe’s death. Thus, the game must show how deep Alex’s relationship was with Gabe to justify centering the game around his death.
Deck Nine has done a great job with setting up the romantic choices in the game. Previous games had only one romantic choice, which dominated over all the others. You can offer the rose to either Ryan or Stephanie in this game. The good thing about this game is that the relationship choices aren’t repetitive. The choices are accompanied by their own set of pros and cons, traits, and consequences.
Life is Strange: True Colors is a complete game with a great vibe. I was hooked on the 14-hour-long story. It kept me guessing. Unlike previous games, this game rewards you for every choice you make. It is undoubtedly the best game in the series, with awesome pacing and character development. I am hyped for the future of this series.
Life is Strange: True Colors Review
An excellent title worth playing, enjoyable to the core, and expected to keep you entertained throughout the process.