Hello everyone! Today, I thought I would share my thoughts on Life is Strange: True Colors.
I’d been looking forward to playing Life is Strange: True Colors for literal ages. The game is the newest installment of the Life is Strange series, most of which I’ve played, so I was really excited for this one. In this review, I won’t avoid spoilers for the previous games in the franchise, but I will warn you before big spoilers for True Colors. I have so many thoughts on this game, so let’s get into it!
Life is Strange: True Colors Video Game Review
I am so happy to say this game adds a gorgeous story to the Life is Strange franchise. Life is Strange: True Colors follows Alex Chen, a young woman coming out of the foster care system in the PNW and moving to reunite with her long lost older brother in a small Colorado town. Her goal is to have a fresh start but soon we learn that Alex has a mysterious power (not a spoiler, it’s literally in the trailer) where she can experience the strong emotions of those around her. Alex has struggled to keep her own emotions separate from the ones she experiences second hand, and soon has to find a way to keep her emotions under control while she tries to find the truth behind her brother’s sudden death.
The spoiler free version of my review is that this game is absolutely breathtaking. Alex’s new home, Haven Springs, was designed beautifully and the story does a great job of adding a bit more openness to the town while still keeping the mostly linear story experience the series is focused on. Now, my experience is limited to the two older games in the franchise, Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm, so typically the areas where we were able to explore as the players were pretty small and contained, but there were plenty of times where Alex was able to explore the entirety of the playable town area. Although the explorable area as a whole was still limited, it was still a big area and there was plenty changing from in-game day-to-day to keep it feeling fun and new. As Alex’s powers grow, we get to see a whole new side of the town and to the characters as well.
The characters were all really amazing too. While the previous games featured high school students and felt contained to those teenage problems, this game features characters of every age and gives Alex the responsibility of having a job and apartment, bridging the gap from childhood to adulthood, and reconciling with her past to be able to plan for her future. She is such a grown up character and has already had her powers for years, providing a very different experience to the young high school student with new powers that was Max. Even so, there is a lot for Alex to learn about her powers and so there is still a lot of self-discovery to do with Alex.
I loved that emotions took center stage in this game. Life is Strange has always been about powerful stories that will have such a real impact on the player, and so emotions have always been a focus of the game anyway. And bringing the emotional parts of the game forward did make for a much more powerful experience. Max and Chloe had strong reactions as they went through their own stories, but Alex brought it to a whole new level. Alex also felt like such a universally relatable character. Even though I hadn’t been in many of the situations Alex was in, her empathy and compassion were so powerful that it was easy to feel one with Alex and really think what to do in the pivotal decision-making moments of the game. While I wouldn’t want Alex’s powers for myself, they were such an amazing power to experience in the game.
So that’s the end for this spoiler free portion, I’ll get into some spoilers now. So skip to the next part about my experience buying the game (what a rollercoaster), experience playing the game on the Switch, and even thoughts after playing the game if you’d like!
So onto the spoilers!
I’m going to start by saying that I loved how Alex was able to handle her powers throughout the game. At the start of the game she lost control in front of her brother and I chose to share it with him. Now, I had already watched a gameplay of episode 1 before playing, so I already knew I wanted her to share her powers ahead of time, but it was still really cool to see that important moment when Gabe gets Alex to start thinking of her powers as a superpower to be embraced rather than something to be feared or ignored. I also loved that Alex quickly trusted her friends with her secret and grew her powers afterwards. While I did think that maybe Ryan and Steph accepted her gifts a little too quickly, it was really nice to see them immediately embrace the powers too.
I loved how Alex was soon able to experience emotions as the people feeling them, changing her perspective and widening her own mind. I also loved that even though Alex knows what others are experiencing, there is still a chance she could say or do the “wrong” thing. Alex is still human, and she can still make mistakes when handling a situation. For example, when she experiences Charlotte’s emotions, I made a decision that made Alex say something that angered Charlotte more, rather than calm her down. Alex also had the option to either hide Eleanor’s declining mental cognitive abilities, calm Mac or leave him to his fear, and even take the emotions of Charlotte and Pike away. There are just so many important decisions Alex makes that significantly impact those around her.
When I played, I very much wanted to help Alex do the “right” thing. But as I played, it was clear that what seems like the right decision at the time may not be later. Early on, I had Alex share Eleanor’s condition with Riley, thinking Riley may be able to at least put in place some sort of support system for Eleanor before going away to school. But instead Riley decided to give up her spot at her new school so I came to regret it later because I had been so excited for Riley to get in to the program she’d applied to with Gabe’s help. It felt like I’d accidentally caused Alex to undo Gabe’s impact on Riley’s life and limited Riley’s future. While it seemed like a no-brainer to tell Riley the truth at the time, it also wasn’t fair to take Riley’s dreams like that either. It also had the impact that Eleanor did not trust Alex at the end, but that wasn’t even a factor for me for regretting that decision to be honest.
Another decision I later came to regret was telling Charlotte not to take Typhon’s money. I thought that if I had her take the money up front, and it later became clear that Typhon was to blame, then Charlotte would lose out on more. Plus, it seemed like the “right” thing to do was to turn down hush money in general. Well, turns out that was not the case and instead Charlotte didn’t get anything. She could have used that money for Ethan’s college! Now, I understand it was just a game and Ethan and Charlotte and the characters aren’t real, but if it had been then I would have been devastated to take the kid’s college fund away. Looking back, I would have told Charlotte to take the money.
Both of those regrets that linger with me just go to show how real the characters and story felt though. I loved the characters so much so quickly, just as Alex did. It was so sweet how the other characters quickly accepted Alex, despite that they’d known her less than 24 hours by the time Gabe died. Steph and Ryan formed such a powerful friendship with her so quickly, helped along by Alex’s powers. I actually had to keep reminding myself that the story was taking place over a few days rather than weeks or months. So much was packed into the story that it felt like time was going by faster than it did!
Speaking of those events packed into the story… I loved the LARP! I had loved Steph’s character back when Chloe played her DnD type game in Before the Storm, and I loved that Steph was back and planning an even bigger and better event. Steph even got a good portion of the town to play along too! All for Ethan, but it was incredible for all of the town mourning Gabe. Steph is such a great character and I loved how her past (since Before the Storm), present, and future were all explored for her. Her decision to stay in Haven Springs due to Gabe, her amazing job at the record store, and even glimpsing her eventual departure from Haven was incredible.
Gabe’s character was one that was so influential even though he died so early on. Of course his impact was strongly felt throughout the game. He had been such an important part of Haven, and thus that influenced everyone to fully embrace Alex. While sometimes it felt like Alex was taking Gabe’s place by taking over his apartment, job, and friendships (although he’d given her in the first place before his death anyway) it also was clear that Alex was her own person and would fit in at Haven on her own anyway. It was also nice to see glimpses of Gabe throughout the story too. Part of the charm of Life is Strange is that the powers sometimes make it hard to know what is and isn’t possible, so I suppose it’s possible Gabe was actually there guiding Alex. But my perspective was that Alex was imagining him and what he’s say to her in those situations. Even so, it was nice that Gabe had such an impact on Alex’s future despite his early death. And he also brought back her love of music!
So I thought I’d talk about the ending I got too. I was expecting endings more like Life is Strange 2, where Sean’s choices throughout the game really impact the ending in many meaningful ways. I didn’t play that one but I have seen various gameplays and endings for that game. Instead, this one got one of basically four endings. I decided that Alex would stay in Haven Springs with Ryan. I did consider her future with Steph on the road, but it felt like Alex needed to stay in Haven. Now, I did consider the fact that Alex did experience a lot in Haven, including the trauma of Gabe’s death, Typhon/Diane hiding the truth, and Jed’s betrayal, but Haven was home now for her, and I couldn’t take that from her so soon after her arrival.
After such a crazy childhood in the foster system and having no real home or family for years, I thought Alex needed to stay in Haven for at least a few years after the game ended. Alex didn’t feel like she needed to pursue music either. I got then sense that she loved music, of course, but I thought her future actually was in psychology. I like to think that Alex and Riley eventually did an online psychology program together, studying at the Black Lantern while Steph and Ryan goofed around them. I like to think that Alex and Ryan stayed together and kept in touch with Steph after she left town, and that Alex did take over the record store as Gabe suggested. Maybe eventually they’d leave Haven, but who knows!
Experience Buying the Game
So I wanted to give some insight on my experience buying the game because it was so frustrating! So I decided early on that I would buy it for the Switch instead of PlayStation because I mainly play on my Switch now. The game was released early September for every console except the Switch. The Switch game was delayed multiple times and was eventually released for Switch early December, but that was only the digital version. I much prefer the physical copy so I had to then wait for the end of December, only for it to be delayed again to the start of March. It was honestly so frustrating having to wait so long for the game to finally arrive! I will say, that I preordered from Target at a sale price, so it was nice to get a discount on it but then it was also backordered when it was finally time to ship out. It did still arrive much sooner than the backordered date estimated, but it was still so frustrating to wait! Even so, the game was still fun and made the wait worth it in the end.
Experience Playing the Game on the Nintendo Switch
I did like playing on the Switch overall. Like I said, I mostly play on the Switch now so it was nice to use my preferred console. However, I did notice a lot of lag. At first it was mostly sounds not matching up completely during the loading screen. I would hear the audio before the loading screen would change, like hearing a door close before seeing Alex close it behind her, so there were a few moments when I’d panicked that the game was broken. It wasn’t broken, just not matching up. Later on, especially for the outdoor scenes with the mountains and tons of details, the lag was very apparent. Was it bad enough that I would say it really bothered me? Not really. But it was something that I noticed so I thought I’d mention it.
Thoughts After the Game
I will say, that this was the first Life is Strange game that I didn’t fully watch before playing it through. For both Chloe and Max’s games I did watch gameplays and understood how all the decisions, big and small, changed the story. This one I only watched the first episode and nothing else. I loved playing the game blind. I totally expected to struggle more with the big decisions, but i actually didn’t. I found it pretty easy to make decisions overall. As I said, I found Alex to be such an understandable character and I thought it was easy to know what choice Alex would make as I went along. It was such a great game and I truly recommend it.
Now, I know there is a DLC game centered around Steph available too. I haven’t played it but I have thought about it for sure. I started watching a gameplay of the DLC but stopped as I haven’t quite decided if I did want to buy it or not. I am very tempted! I do know the DLC tells the story of Steph’s first year in Haven, split into seasons. Steph reflects on her life and even addresses what happened to her during and after the events in Arcadia Bay. I’d have to buy it separately as I didn’t get the deluxe game so I might wait for a sale on it!
All in all, I loved the game. The game was really well done, and I really enjoyed the entire story. I find myself thinking of Alex and her story quite often even now, a week or so after playing the game. It was a really beautiful story and a gorgeous reminder of how strange life can be.
So that’s my thoughts on Life is Strange: True Colors. Let me know if you’ve played the game and what you thought about it! Just mark your comment with a spoiler warning if you tell me your ending!
Thanks for reading!
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