— Life is Strange (@LifeIsStrange) September 9, 2021
Life is Strange: True Colors is the third main entry from the series. Well, that is if you set aside the spin-off’s Life Before the Storm and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Unlike 2018s Life is Strange 2, Square Enix has done away with the numbered entries. Though if you watch or listen carefully, you may notice nods towards previous entries.
This review may end up being deliberately vague. Today, I believe that we see way too many trailers revealing too much. Whether it is a video game, movie, or TV series. True Colors was a game that benefited from a heavy marketing push from Square Enix, and rightly so. This is a beloved series and many LiS fans have been eagerly awaiting the all-new story starring the endearing Alex Chen. Thankfully I had avoided many trailers for True Colors and by doing so, I believe I was able to experience this curious story to its fullest and I was surprised by one- or two-story developments.
Life is Strange: True Colors protagonist Alex Chen has led a very troubled life. Family ordeals and heartbreak led Alex to be brought up in the foster care system. For most of her life, she never felt that she belonged, and she has been churning for a place to call home. However, separated from her older brother Gabe, Alex hoped that one day they would be reunited.
Eight years had passed and finally, Alex escaped the system and moved to a small town in Colorado called Haven Springs. A wonderful, picturesque town where community spirit is where the home is. Haven Springs is also the home of Alex’s older brother, Gabe. Finally, Alex was reunited with her long-lost brother and after a lifetime of soul searching, Alex finally found a place where she belonged.
However, Alex has been containing a secret. Alex is an empath. The definition of an empath is extremely broad. But in essence, an empath can feel what another person feels, but on a whole other level. Sometimes, for better or worse, an empath can receive all kinds of emotions, happiness, sadness, or anger. Yet there is more to Alex’s psychic empath ability. She can not only read people’s emotions by the auras, but she can also help to ease one’s pain. While this ability may be a miracle to some, others may see it as a curse, and therefore Alex has often felt too scared to share who she truly is. The fear of how others may judge her.
Setting aside her supernatural ability, Alex put some of her fears to one side and finally found happiness with her estranged brother. Better still, much of the Haven Springs welcomed Alex with open arms. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes Haven Springs in particular Alex as her brother falls victim to a tragic accident. Feeling that there is more to Gabe’s death that the community members of Haven Springs were willing to let on, Alex will stop at nothing to discover the truth and the dark secret of this remote town. But who can Alex trust and what will the truth cost her?
Naturally in a game such as Life is Strange: True Colors, your choices will matter. Of course, some scenes are predetermined, but how you get there is up to you. Alex will use her powers to read situations quite literally for better or worse. At times she will even have the ability to change someone’s emotions. What I really liked about True Colors, is that even if you believe you made the best choice with the best of intentions, later, you might realise that you never made the best choice. It’s this unknowing butterfly effect that I appreciate most about the ‘choose your own adventure style video games.
Life is Strange: True Colors is also full of wonderful characters that you’ll quickly warm to. Each (including Alex) are all fantastic written and some of the voice acting is amongst the best I’ve experienced in a while. Quite literally, the whole cast tells each of their own stories to near perfection. Likewise, the music of True Colors is amazing. Some songs you’ll recognise and some you won’t. However, each song is perfectly timed to help set the tone and tell an enticing tale.
Explore the store, browse records, and meet two potential new friends along the way.
— Life is Strange (@LifeIsStrange) August 18, 2021
In terms of gameplay, there’s not much all that revolutionary and that’s not a knock at True Colors. This game knows exactly what it is, and it plays to its strengths in the best possible way. That said, there are some odd animation glitches now and again. For example, there was one that involved an end of a cut-scene with Alex and Ryan. Thankfully, such glitches are rare and did not impact my immersion and enjoyment of this game.
In terms of visuals, Life is Strange: True Colors is the best-looking game from the series. However, this aspect is very subjective. Fans of this franchise will appreciate the water paint style visuals that were more prominent in the original game, as well as Before the Storm and LIS2. True Colors does have a little of that water paint style, however, it compromises a little to have a little more realism, without totally sacrificing its identity.
Overall, Life is Strange: True Colors is a rollercoaster of choices and emotions. Not since the first two seasons of Telltale’s The Walking Dead have I struggled with some choices. Unless you are an intentional prick (which you can at times), even when you make choices with the best of intentions, ultimately, the pre-scripted fate will often play its hands. True Colors plays a thin line between player choice and what will be will be. True Colors also features multiple endings. Sure, you can revisit a chapter to see how certain moments might play out differently. But then you’ll be missing out. I will most certainly be playing this game in its entirety at least a few times over.
True Colors is one of my favourite games this year. I love its characters, its stories, the location of Haven Springs and the mystery that surrounds it. If this is your first Life is Strange, get ready to have your heartstrings pulled and twisted. And once you’re done, you owe it to yourself to play the other three games in the series. Life is Strange: True Colors has a charming beauty that you’ll want to experience over and over.