The Life is Strange series developed by Deck Nine and published by Square Enix fell into our laps in 2015, taking a moment to be picked up by the masses but soon showed the creative narrative of the development team was nothing short of addictive. Quickly, a second and third game came out as well as a prequel. Introducing us to other characters and possibilities. The success of the series has landed us with a bright and shiny new game, Life is Strange: True Colors out as of September of 2021 on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. Nintendo Switch release is soon to follow on December 7th 

This game starts with our new protagonist, Alex Chen talking briefly with her doctor about her time in the Helping Hands Group home and how she is about to go live with her older brother in a small town in Colorado. We learn through the small exchange that Alex struggles with other people’s emotions, but we aren’t sure yet exactly how. This entire scene feels like it is meant to make you empathize and connect with Alex and honestly it does, the moment they start to talk about Alex’s’ issues it’s hard to ignore the hurt that plays across her face.  

Alex is dropped off in front of a beautiful small town by a bus and you get a moment to truly enjoy the hard work the developers put in for solidifying the atmosphere of the game. The game grants you a Zen moment on the beautiful bridge that heads into town, scrolling over the beautiful mountains, the river, and even some wildlife nearby. You can exit the moment at any time, but it provides an opportunity to get a feel for the soundtrack to the game, which in true Life is Strange fashion, is made up of a good mix of indie music. 

Alex reunites with her brother Gabe, and he joyfully welcomes her with open arms after eight years of separation. We quickly learn that Alex struggles with being able to completely read other peoples emotions as well as hear their thoughts during that moment. We find out that Gabe is unsure but so excited to see Alex, through aforementioned super power and we are on our way.  

Alex and Gabe Chen from Life is Strange: True Colors

Source: Screen Capture – Caitlin Rutz

The way they lead us into reading Gabe’s emotions is smooth and well done. It connects the previous conversation with her Doctor about her struggles and what we will be doing with every character at one point or another. Alex’s power is the biggest plot point in the game, leading to some super cool scenes that I found myself crying in.  

We quickly meet a few towns people that are pivotal to the story. Learning exactly what Alex is dealing with when it comes to her powers and how she begins to view them. Are they a curse, or a superpower that just needs to be controlled? 

Then we get the chance to have Alex explore something a little more in her element, the record shop that also houses the towns indie radio station. Once inside, Alex gets a glimpse at one of two romance options in the game, Steph Gringrich in all her nerdy glory, has returned from the first Life is Strange game and seen jamming out in the audio booth. Soon followed by the second romance option, Ryan Lucan, a golden retriever like nature enthusiast that is the Ranger for the area.  

Seeing the two romance options was honestly my favorite part of the game, both vastly different and well written all while both being a major part in the story was such a refreshing aspect. Getting to know these two characters was the most fun in a game I have had in a while.

Steph from Life is Strange True Colors

Source: Screen Capture – Caitlin Rutz

The adventure continues at a much faster pace after we get a rudimentary introduction to everyone in this sleepy town. Gabe gives Alex his apartment above the local bar where he works and we see the first sign of real conflict, Gabe gets a much-unwelcomed visitor, Mac who thinks Gabe has been sleeping with his girlfriend, Riley.  

Mac’s anger is so strong that Alex is forced to step in, feeling the anger seep in herself and essentially seals the deal that Mac will never even so much look at Gabe again. Then off to sit at the bar and get offered a chance to prove Alex’s’ worth as a server. We meet more note worthy characters here and start to understand more about everyone in the town, must of them locals who thrive in their environment and are sickeningly sweet and welcoming. I found myself wanting to be a part of this community, and striving to be liked and welcomed. Having Alex do everything in her power to be able to find a home here.  

Each dialogue option leading to figuring out history and information through getting to know each of these unique characters. Who will you be able to befriend by the end of your story? 

While the story in this game may seem straight forward from what I’ve given you, but I promise you it’s not. The twists and turns this narrative forces us to face, as well as the ugly truth hidden behind the chipping paint of this tiny town will have you wanting to know so much more.  

The controls in this game are super simple, no combat but there are a few timed answers that happen throughout. The good thing about these games is that you must make sure that you are making the choice you truly want, almost every decision ends up changing the fate of your story. With this game having six definite endings and each of these can vary due to several other factors you may choose. Such as romance options, who shows up to the flower festival, even down to a few music choices you can play all make a difference and can lead to an ending you may not be aiming for. It is all fun in the end, however. You can always go back into chapter select to also help hunt down any achievements you may have missed in your original play through or to toy around with the ending.  

What Life is Strange does well other than narrative, is the art style and soundtrack. The developers truly know how to take a beautiful pastel art style and twist it to fit the darker themes that are common to the series as well as having the accompanying music truly speak for the aspects that the story doesn’t quite reveal. Allowing us to develop our own feelings along with the characters in the story. 

I highly suggest looking into the soundtrack for this game and giving it a listen when you’re just doing something in your normal life, they’re really good at composing a playlist that make you feel like you’re in your own movie which just drives the point home of this being a narrative based game.  

Alex Chen standing on a bridge overlooking a sunny Colorado mountain scene

Source: screen capture – caitlin rutz

It is easy to get lost in the design of the game and just enjoy the artwork and hard work they put in. You get plenty of opportunity for Zen moments that will show you the beautiful surroundings and will also give a hint to what Alex may be thinking at that time. 

If narrative games are your jam, and you’re a fan of making quick decisions this is the game for you. I suggest making sure you pay great attention to detail so you can truly enjoy all the love and hard work the team put into this one. I’ve been with the Life is Strange series since it’s first game release, and I’m more than happy to say that everything in Life is Strange: True Colors lived up to my expectations. I’m giving this one an 82.. 

 

Price: $59.99

Developer: Deck Nine

Publisher: Square Enix

Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, PC. 

 

Score

Caitlin

Caitlin Rutz

Video Team

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