The Life Is Strange franchise has quickly gained critical praise; the series was first revealed in 2014 and followed the time traveling adventures of Max Caulfield in Arcadia Bay. Devloped by Dontnod Entertainment and Square Enix. The series was praised for its well written and emotional story and characters that were well developed and likeable but suffered from some out of place dialogue. But Life Is Strange gained a sizeable following, in the following years more games were developed under the Life Is Strange umbrella, Life Is Strange Before The Storm and Life Is Strange 2. Now in 2021 Life Is Strange True Colors has finally released, developed not by Dontnod but Deck Nine, who previously worked on Before The Storm. True Colours follows the adventures of Alex Chen a young girl who has been jumping from foster homes to orphanages for a long time, unlike most children Alex has the powers to tap into the emotions of the people around her, she finally is contacted by her long-lost brother Gabe who invites her to live with him in Haven Springs an idyllic town in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Alex thought she found her perfect home, until a horrible accident destroyed her new life before it could even begin, now Alex must investigate what happened while trying to contain her power from the people around her. Life Is Strange True Colors is an emotional story of loss but also one of preservice in the face of impossible odds and is by far the best written entry to franchise in a long time. Viewers welcome to my review of Life Is Strange True Colors.
Alex is a really well-developed character you really get a sense that she was molded by years of jumping between orphanages and never feeling like she had a forever home but in Haven Springs she has a chance to make a change for the better. She’s a nervous person at heart and struggles to contain her powers, she cares about the people around her more than herself which is one of the many flaws she has but even with so many scares she tries to keep an upbeat attitude no matter what. Within the first few hours, you are introduced to everyone in the town of Haven Springs, a town where everyone knows everyone. The town where you could really get to know everyone because the town is so well connected. A place where everyone is connected through social media. The game is set in just one street of this small town with only a few buildings that you can go into, but each one has an incredible amount of detail from the record store where Steph works to the Black Lantern bar where you, your brother Gabe and Jed work and live. You will go to these locations a number times throughout the story but you can freely explore these places at particular points, to get to know certain characters more or just soak in the atmosphere of the town.
The town is constantly changing as the story progresses you even see a small business go from construction to night before opening or even a small side adventure that completely changes the style of game you’re playing. For the longest time every Life Is Strange felt really similar, they didn’t really do anything outside of their initial premise to change the adventure game formula but True Colors makes an effort to make every interaction new and memorable.
The narratives of the Life Is Strange games are constantly engaging. For narratives that deal with young adults with super powers there always incredibly well written, the issues that these characters go through are grounded even with the super power elements everything they go through is relatable, from bullying, depression, abusive relationships and many other themes, each of them is handled with care and attention to how these can affect people. True Colors continues this by exploring the deeper connections with our emotions and how they can affect the people around us. The main character Alex Chen can see the emotional auras of people around her, these auras allow her to tap into the emotions of these people and find out what they’re feeling and what might be causing it. I won’t spoil what exactly Alex deals with throughout the narrative but there are some pretty heavy themes and seeing someone try her hardest to help the people around her no matter what is deeply affecting.
Gameplay wise True Colors is very similar to the games of the past. You will be making really tough and emotional decisions throughout your narrative as you try and discover what caused this town to get turned upside down. The decisions you make start out simple enough but quickly you will be making choices that have far reaching consequences and deciding what can be the right decision is really difficult but that is what makes it so investing, you can’t solve everything, you’re just human. Alex can use her powers to see how people are feeling and sometimes can see what is causing them to feel a particular way. One instance had me trying to help Somone with Alzheimer’s, this one moment was not only really heart breaking as you see this character struggle to come to terms with their condition and the realization of it all but also has really unique feeling to it as your dragged into this person’s mind.
True Colors is the best-looking Life Is Strange to date. All of the characters are motion captured giving them a real sense of place instead of pre designed animations. It allows you to connect to them even more, though facial animations have a tendency to walk the uncanny valley but not too much to become distracting. The visuals are also spectacular, the town of New Haven is an idyllic little town with a lot of personality and texture to its streets and alleyways. Even with the game being set in only one location the game doesn’t suffer from a sense DeJa’Vu because you’re always on some new quest to help the citizens of the town. The city is gorgeous as unlike most towns its merged with its surroundings with a lot vegetation around its buildings and streets.
The music of the Life Is Strange series is one of their most unique aspects. Every entry has this amazing soundtrack of unique different bands that each bring their own style to the table. It really feels like soundtrack crafted for Somone who has a love for smaller bands not known to many people. Sure there are some songs you will recognize but the vast majority are tracks you probably haven’t heard before. The music comes in at points to really drive home particular moments and it leaves you feeling either over joyed or sadden. The music works in tandem with the story to invest you even more in the narrative’s themes and the world around you. Such as the moment when Alex sings the song Creep by Radiohead to help translate how she feels like an outsider to the people around her. Like most games in this newer generation, True Colors has some accessibility options such as subtitles and warnings, the game even has a streamer mode to give your viewers a lot more interactivity in the actions you make. Though one of the settings takes out all the licensed music in the game that doesn’t work with the writer’s intentions.
Life Is Strange True Colors is by far the best adventure game I’ve ever played and also the best Life Is Strange entry in the series date. The characters are interesting and will stick with me long after the credits. There is very little I can say negatively about the game really it is just flawless in many areas and makes me grateful for the opportunity I have been given to talk about it and all the games I’ve talked about here and my own channel. I won’t forget it for a long time and will be eagerly awaiting the next game in the series.
Should you play it? Yes
- It offers a fantastic story on the power of emotions
- Well developed and voiced characters
- Gorgeous graphics
- Some wonky animations
Reviewed on: PS5
Developer/Publisher: Deck Nine/Square Enix
Playable on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia
Released: 9th September 2021
Our thanks to Square Enix for providing us with a review code.
- some iffy facial capture at times