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Games: Life is Strange: True Colors – Review

*Potential spoilers for Life is Strange: True Colors ahead.*

If you are looking for a new video game to play, I have just the one for you!

Life is Strange: True Colors, the fifth game in the self-entitled franchise, came out on September 10, 2021. It follows Alex Chen, a young woman who leaves foster care to live with her brother, Gabe, in the remote mining town of Haven Springs, Colorado. However, after a tragic accident, Alex takes it upon herself to find out the truth. With the help of her friends and supernatural powers, she works to uncover the town’s secrets, both good and bad.

The Life is Strange series are some of my favorite games, starting with the original back in 2015. After playing True Colors, I can confidently say it is my new favorite out of the five.

Deck Nine—the developer behind Life is Strange: Before the Storm—took everything that made the previous games great and built upon it. For starters, much like its predecessors, True Colors has a compelling story thanks to quality writing and characters. Topics such as loss, grief, empathy, and self-acceptance are explored in a way that is tasteful and engaging. It does not take long for you to become emotionally invested in Alex and her journey.

Alex Chen. Photo courtesy of Square Enix.

Instead of releasing the game episodically, Deck Nine chose to release it in full. Players now had the option to take breaks after each chapter or play through it all at once. This was a smart choice, since there were no awkward pacing issues that plagued previous games.

Stunning graphics and amazing music, two Life is Strange trademarks, also continue in True Colors. Deck Nine did an incredible job bringing Haven Springs to life, creating a place you could actually find in small-town America. Angus & Julia Stone created the original soundtrack, which won Best Original Soundtrack at the 2021 ARIA Music Awards. Other artists like Novo Amor, Phoebe Bridgers, and Gabrielle Aplin also provided music for the game.

Several issues from the past were addressed as well, including updated animations, better dialogue, and more worthwhile NPCs. Long gone are the notorious lip-syncing issues and outdated, cringy slang from the original game. Additionally, exploring Haven Springs outside of the main story is not required, but you will want to thanks to the unique residents. Easter eggs and engaging backstories await curious players if they take the time to discover all the town has to offer.

Another improvement was an array of meaningful choices that impacted the overall experience. Previous Life is Strange games had several choices with no real bearing on the overarching plot. In True Colors, every decision feels incredibly important and could have major consequences for Alex’s journey. Unlike before, you will see all your choices play out in one way or another by the end of the story.

More than once I found myself second guessing a choice I made and if it was the right call. This helps add to the replay value, making you want to go back and see what would happen if you chose differently in a specific situation.

They also did an excellent job of crafting Alex’s power. While Max from Life is Strange could rewind time, Alex uses the power of empathy. She can read the emotions of those around her, and if they are feeling something deeply enough, she can even take that emotion on herself. This allows her to find the root of their feelings and how she can help.

Even with a supernatural twist, it is still very relatable; other’s emotions can deeply affect some people, and it can cause them harm if they are not able to process it properly. Several times I empathized with Alex and what she was going through.

Romance is also another highlight of True Colors. In past Life is Strange games, it was blatantly obvious who the developers wanted you to pick. Here, both options, Steph Gingrich and Ryan Lucan, are equals. Neither one feels like the better choice over the other (but for me, Team Steph all the way!). It lets players explore Alex and her sexuality without forcing them in a specific direction.

Steph Gingrich and Ryan Lucan. Photo courtesy of Square Enix.

Overall, Life is Strange: True Colors is a worthy addition to the franchise. From the very first trailer, I could tell that it had the same magic as the original did seven years ago. It was not a disappointment; I thoroughly enjoyed helping Alex uncover the mysteries of Haven Springs and its residents, all while discovering more about herself in the process.

Life is Strange: True Colors is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC, and the Nintendo Switch.

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