Life is Strange: True Colors tells a deeply moving story about empathy

After finishing Life is strange: true colors, my first thought was that I wanted to play it again.

This is quite abnormal for me. Generally speaking, I prefer to move on to games I’ve never played before, and even choice-based experiences like the ones above. Life is strange games rarely draw me back due to the minor differences between story outcomes.

But I found myself deeply in love with what developer Deck Nine has created with True colors I didn’t want it to end. Instead, he had a burning desire to play it again and walk the many paths not taken. Between splendid writing and acting, a wonderfully performed setting, and a deeply moving narrative with a surprising number of ramifications, True colors prove to be not only the best Life is strange, but one of the best games of 2021.

A new beginning

Of course, Deck Nine owes a lot to the template featured by the original. Life is strange developer Dontnod. The central idea of ​​an emotional coming-of-age adventure game centered on someone with supernatural abilities is preserved here, in this case, a young Asian-American named Alex Chen. But where the first Life is strange featured time travel and its sequel focused on telekinetic abilities, True colors it is about a much more underrated power: psychic empathy or the ability to experience other people’s emotions.

“Much of the success of True Colors can be attributed to Alex, who quickly became one of my favorite main characters of late.”

The decision to center Alex’s character around this particular ability gives True colors a comparatively more solid feel, which is refreshing for the series. But it also creates a genuinely heartbreaking character drama. If the years of going through the foster care system weren’t difficult enough, Alex’s empathic abilities only further isolated her and caused her more pain, leading her to try to suppress them over time. Naturally, then, he seizes the opportunity to start a new life with his long-lost brother, Gabe, in the small town of Haven, Colorado. But their reunion is sadly interrupted when an alleged accident results in Gabe’s untimely death, forcing Alex to use his powers to uncover the truth and uncover Haven’s dark secrets.

Much of True colors’ success can be attributed for Alex, who quickly became one of my favorite main characters of late. Her troubled childhood makes her immensely understanding, to be sure, but it doesn’t define her. In fact, what makes Alex so adorable is that he is impressively resilient – he’s constantly trying to overcome his trauma to help other people he meets. That Alex constantly uses his powers and risks reopening old wounds just to help other people is downright poignant and even inspiring. All the while, his calm demeanor hides a charmingly sarcastic and flirtatious side and an endearingly deep passion for music. Overall, the arc that Alex traverses throughout the 15-hour story, a journey to finally discover not just a home and family, but his own sense of self-worth, is absolutely gripping and beautifully executed by actress Erika Mori.

Added to this is Deck Nine’s use of full motion and facial capture, a first for the series. How much this enhances the overall experience cannot be underestimated – little moments like Alex blushing and awkwardly flinching while speaking with a potential romantic interest or solemnly playing his guitar on his bed get a lot more lively and realistic, so it’s a wonder how the series has managed without this technology so far.

Life is Strange: True Colors Alex and Gabe

It also helps that Deck Nine wisely spends the entire first of True colors‘Five episodes (which, thankfully, are released all at once this time) about Alex and Gabe’s slow reconnection. During this time, the two share various tender moments together, including silly rocking out a new album or having a sentimental chat over a few beers, and Mori and Gabe’s actor Han Soto bring these scenes to life incredibly well. Gabe is an eminently friendly and enterprising guy who is simply taking care of his little sister, and that makes her death even more tragic.

Deck Nine continues to develop the elder Chen even after his death through Haven, portraying him as a friendly and welcoming community in which he became a beloved figure. Constant reminders for Gabe can be found throughout the city, such as an impromptu foosball trophy he won from a friend or a plaque at the local bar, ensuring his presence is constantly felt throughout the game. This also makes the inevitable sinister discoveries you make about Haven feel even more shocking and shocking.

Life is Strange: True Colors Haven

Up to that point, Haven is himself one of the True colors‘leads, and it’s compelling, too. Most of the game takes place there, which, in practice, is basically a town square and an adjacent park to explore. While this initially seems restrictive, I soon came to appreciate how much sense of place this created. This familiarity gives the city and its inhabitants so much character. Whether it’s an old watering hole owned by hardworking Jed, sweet old lady Eleanor’s cute flower shop, or the record shop with the cool DJ Steph (returning from Deck Nine’s underrated Life is strange: before the storm), I found myself admiring Haven’s quaint design.

At the same time, True colors it does not shy away from the problems that the people of Haven face under its warm exterior. In cases where you can wander around Haven, you have the option to search for each of these characters. Doing so will regularly reveal all sorts of compelling subplots, like Eleanor struggling to balance her health issues with supporting her daughter’s college goals. While the color-coded aura that surrounds the characters to represent emotions such as sadness and fear sometimes takes away the subtlety somewhat, the uniformly strong writing and acting ensure that each character always feels sincere and human.

You can change the world, Alex

Life is Strange: True Colors Char

Deck Nine has also created some fascinating ideological dilemmas related to Alex’s involvement. While some cases are straightforward (like Alex leading a city-wide ‘LARP’ to lift the spirits of a grieving child in perhaps the most charming sequence in the game), others are decidedly more complicated. While he may have good intentions in using his powers to remove overwhelming anger from a woman, that could deprive her of a chance to heal in a meaningful way. Weather True colors It doesn’t fully explore this topic as much as I would have liked, what’s in the game is still surprisingly effective.

“Deck Nine has easily proven to be a worthy successor to the Life is Strange franchise, and I can’t wait to see what an unforgettable experience it creates next.”

In any case, it is a significant step over the previous ones. Life is strange games, which often failed to develop some minor characters. True colors, on the contrary, it deftly balances its great cast and gives everyone plenty of moments to shine. In particular, none of the other games featured memorable love interests, but True colors offers two equally great options on the aforementioned Steph and Jed’s son Ryan. Engaging with the supporting cast is even made rewarding by the fact that your choices will result in different results for each character which, in some cases, might even see them supporting you in unique ways towards the end of the story.

Life is Strange: True Colors sadness

This is the greatest way True colors It avoids many of the common pitfalls of choice-based storytelling. While some of True colorsPlot-heavy decisions, unfortunately, don’t matter as much as they should, how you choose to help the characters really makes a tangible difference through six admirably different endings.

In the end, the resolution of the individual stories of Alex and his friends is much more important than the specific points of the plot and, in this sense, True colors easily hit the landing. So much so, in fact, that I often found myself thinking carefully about certain options. What would be more authentic to me Alex? How can I help people and cause the least amount of pain? I appreciated that this was not always easy to answer.

I see your true colors

By focusing on fully human characters who are treated with empathy, Deck Nine really touched me with Life is strange: true colors. While some plot and theme points could have been developed a bit further, that’s easy to excuse when the central characters are so wonderful. It would have been easy to fall into saccharine territory or melodrama, but True colors it almost always feels serious, comforting, and even profound. Deck Nine has easily proven to be a worthy successor to the Life is strange franchise, and I can’t wait to see what an unforgettable experience he creates next.

Life is strange: true colors It is now available on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, PC, and Google Stadia. A Nintendo Switch version will be released later this year. A Steph-centric downloadable prequel episode called Wavelengths is scheduled to launch on September 30.

Image Credit: Square enix

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