Life is Strange: True Colors

The “Life is Strange” series is what got me into gaming, so I was really excited when “True Colors” was announced. I’ve been anxiously waiting for it to come out since March and was ecstatic that it actually released a day earlier than it was originally supposed to. I spent my entire weekend binging this game. I have finished my first run and started on my second to see the options I didn’t choose the first time.

 

Our protagonist for “True Colors” is Alex Chen, an Asian American who has spent her teenage years in the foster care system. Alex had an unstable childhood, moving from home to home, getting into frequent fights and troublesome situations. She travels to the fictional town of Haven Springs, Colorado to reunite with her older brother, Gabe, after 8 years apart. 

 

Like previous protagonists in the series, she has supernatural powers. She is an empath, meaning she can feel people’s emotions and understand why they are feeling them. However, if the emotions of others are too strong they will infect her. One of the first scenes in the game is her getting into a fight with another character because his anger was too strong.

 

An interesting thing about the game is that you use Alex’s power to find collectibles, which are objects with emotions attached to them. When you find them and use your powers on them it gives you a little bit of lore and more insight into the characters’ backgrounds. The mechanic of collecting memories rather than items is just really neat.

 

As with the other games, you can choose between two different people to romance — or no one at all. Ryan is a park ranger and Gabe’s best friend. He is an absolute himbo and I love him very much. Steph is actually a character from the prequel “Before the Storm” and she’s a nerd for music and tabletop roleplaying games. As much as I love Steph and was excited to have the option to romance her, I ended up picking the straight option on my first run. A relationship with Ryan just felt more natural to the story and without spoiling anything, that proved to be correct.

 

One of the main marketing points of the series is that the choices you make impact the outcome of the story and give the player different endings. Decision-based games often have the issue of feeling like your choices don’t really matter in the end. “True Colors” manages to avoid this and it's the first game in the series where I have been genuinely satisfied with the endings.

 

The graphics of this game are astounding when compared to the first game from 2015. The characters actually have realistic facial expressions and skin texture. I found the eye movements most notable because those can be one of the hardest things to animate in games. My graphics card isn’t super great so I’m not sure if it is a me issue or a game issue, but textures took a couple seconds to load in any time the camera switched. It only slightly impacted my immersion.

 

At around 10 hours to complete thoroughly, it’s a short game, but the story flows really well. Releasing the game all at once rather than keeping it episodic like the prior games helped it a lot. I would have hated the cliffhangers that would have inevitably resulted from it being episodic.

 

This enjoyable game takes all of the best parts of previous games and merges them together. It has the internal moral debate around using your powers from the first game, the sibling dynamic and fleshed out characters from the second game and continues the tradition of having a weird dream sequence in the finale. It’s also very emotional and hit extra hard because I saw a lot of myself in Alex.

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