The Life Is Strange series is one of my favorite episodic graphic adventure games, so I was excited when Square Enix announced a new title. What’s more, it was being made by Deck Nine who I thought did an excellent job with Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. I was not completely disappointed with True Colors.
First off, the story is quite good. You start off seeing Alex Chen, our main protagonist, sitting in a chair in front of an emotions poster. She’s talking to psychologist in the group home that she’s currently staying at, pleading her case to be released to her brother. Obviously, she is released, and takes a bus to the small town of Haven Springs, Colorado to meet her brother, Gabe. From here, you meet his friends (which eventually become your friends), and begin settling down in this quiet mining town. Of course, disaster strikes, but since I’m not one to ruin a story for others, you’ll have to play it yourself to find out more.
I will say that unlike other games in the series, True Colors relies heavily on this dramatic beginning–with most of the game dealing with grief. It hardly breaks from this narrative, so it can feel draining at times.
It does play exactly like the other games, were the decisions made affect the outcome. However, since Alex’s powers are completely different than anything seen before, it makes those choices a bit harder. Alex can read people’s emotions and with that comes a snippet of their thoughts. Because it’s impossible to have an emotion without a thought behind it.
The decisions given are just so difficult because the knowledge received from this power. You know what these people are thinking about. Like why they are scared, what is making them sad or angry. So, go with the option that pushes your inner emotional button? Or the one that’s more logical or in line with you moral compass? It was definitely the hardest choices I’ve had to make in the whole series, and I audibly groaned at a majority of them.
As far as the visual quality, most of the main characters are well flushed out in general, but a few can look a little funky here and there. However, as usually, the NPCs are a tad ridiculous. The ones in the unplayable areas tend to get trapped walking in one spot, or against each other.
Overall, True Colors does adhere to the typical Life Is Strange art style. However, the Colorado mountain setting, the colors of the shops on main street, the interesting outfits Alex has, and the mining history in the town does differ from the other titles. To me, the previous games were far more subdued in most visual aspects.
Cutscenes for the most part look great, but I did have one instance of Alex popping into the “T” pose coming out of a cutscene. If you don’t know what a “T” pose is, it’s when an NPC or character stands straight and holds their arms out from their sides to make their body look like a T. It didn’t last long and I thought it was funny more than anything. Honestly, it would have broken up the gloom of the game if she had gotten stuck in that pose for a bit.
Another strange visual occurrence was at the very end of True Colors, when the game was trying to switch between several cutscenes. It would try to load the scene, but then would go black, just to start playing that scene shortly after. It did that for every cutscene at the end.
Alex was my favorite element of the whole game. She reminds me of myself and people I know–so she’s relatable. From the trauma of her past, she is rather reserved, especially to those she doesn’t know. But, inside Alex’s head, you get to hear her ridiculously cheesy jokes, and goofball commentary. She’s an enduring character.
I also appreciated the shift to an adult perspective. Seeing your character be able to actually drink at a bar legally and talk openly about smoking weed is a much better experience. I don’t mind being reminded I was once a teenage girl, but I imagine it would be rather strange for some people.
In the end, Life Is Strange: True Colors was a great game. It has its quirks, but the amazing moments outweigh them. The one thing I wish Deck Nine would have done was give us more of the game. It was short in comparison to the other titles in the series, even when comparing it to their previous game–Before the Storm. That was my one gripe and, unfortunately, I doubt there will be any more titles involving Alex. I would still recommend playing True Colors, but maybe wait for it to go on sale.
* Reviewed on PS5