“Life is Strange” debuted in 2015, and since then, the series has carried a lot of things. New fans love its attempt at a strange storyline; they hate its disjointed adult dialogue that is boring and clearly written by teenagers. But in any case, the first game set the tone for a series of (mostly) young people connecting and trying to find the way to the future. Six years later, “Life is Strange” is not just the next work in this beloved series; it proves how much the franchise has developed and matured from the initial template.
The first example of this maturity we have seen is the most obvious. The protagonist of True Colors, Alex Chen, was only 21 years old during the game and is the oldest protagonist we have seen in these games so far. Most of the other characters are at this age or older, and the focus is on the entire sheltered spring town, rather than events around the local high school, or more like the nomadic route taken by “Life is Strange 2”. True Colors places great emphasis on entering a community as an outsider and fighting against the nuances of that community when you try to adjust, whether it’s good or bad.
It was Alex who made the adjustment because she left a family and lived with her brother Gabe in Haven Springs, West Slope, Colorado. This implies that Alex has gone through some difficult things so far and that she is struggling with some kind of emotional problem. We didn’t fully understand what it was before Alex arrived in the safe haven, but it was clear that she didn’t want her brother to know about it. It was a new beginning for her, and Alex desperately didn’t want to mess things up.
Gabe basically prepared everything she needed for Alex: a home, a job, and even introduced her to his friends in town. Through Gabe’s short tour of the town, we can see the life he has built for himself and gain a deeper understanding of their childhood. True Colors performed well in this regard, with a lot of narrative work through brief interactions between characters, and provided more environmental information. This is a dual feature. True Colors continues the trend of Life is Strange, leaving objects around the world, players can interact with them to obtain additional background about people’s lives, but the environment and scenes also speak for themselves. Anyone who has been to the mountain towns of Colorado knows the main streets of Haven Springs, from a dog-detecting pharmacy in the town to the must-see Tibetan tourist shops.
Alex’s abilities eventually become another part of how the game conveys information about his world and characters. She is basically an X-Men-level empathy, not only able to feel the feelings of others, but also able to absorb these feelings and see the world through the eyes of others. However, when people feel too strong about something, Alex is in danger of being swallowed by those feelings and losing control of himself. This is the initial tense atmosphere of the game, because Alex struggles to control his emotions in front of Gabe. But with the real plot of the game, a death that shook the core of Haven Springs came to the forefront, and this situation was put on hold.
This is strange, but the way the main story develops is the strongest and weakest part that True Colors offers. As a more down-to-earth mystery of life, despite some overall rhythm problems, this game is really eye-catching. But as a story of a superpower, it’s a bit dull to me. Unlike the time manipulation of the first Life is Strange game or the telekinesis of 2, Alex’s empathy ability is obviously less supernatural in this story, especially as the plot progresses. Although it is obvious that things are happening when Max can turn the clock back to save Chloe’s life, Alex’s power often makes people feel like an exaggeration of the standard of active listening and caring.
There is a person in every chapter, and Alex needs to step into his emotional shoes. Doing so on a mechanical level requires scanning their emotions, accepting them, and then looking around the room for objects that match the halo that can be investigated. These objects reveal fragments of the person’s feelings, or their content associated with the item. Based on this information, you can decide how to “help” this person by choosing the right way to deal with their feelings at the time. Although you really cannot get such detailed information without the supernatural elements of Alex’s abilities, almost every situation that appears in the game is a situation. You can find out what is bothering someone by reading the room and listening to their voices. The situation is said. In other words, the description of the emotions that Alex provided about her experience from other people was primitive and was hit hard in a way that I admire.
There are only two instances in the game where Alex’s power really plays an extraordinary role, and for me, they are the weakest part. Without elaborating, there are two characters who have experienced such intense anger and fear respectively, and the game provides you with the option to try to eliminate these emotions. Doing so will bring these people two completely different results, and the game does not really give yourself enough space to unlock the consequences in any way. At the same time, if you choose not to choose these options, the story can still move forward, and at least one of the characters must begin to actually deal with these feelings in some way before the end of the story.
This is especially frustrating, because the emotional beats in true color can become special without gimmicks. Ryan’s loyalty, and the resulting anger; Steph’s serious care, these things performed very well in their regular interactions with Alex and other members of the community. There is a whole chapter dedicated to Alex, Stephen, and the others in town working together to create something special for a sad child. You don’t need a color-coded halo to understand that people do it out of caution. , They are having fun, and there are still some complicated feelings behind all this.
When True Colors favors its more solid elements and relationships, it is when it is most powerful. It has enough small town mysteries to make people feel suspicious, while away from the schlockier aspect of its predecessors. The villain feels more like a real person with real complications than a thriller villain who later becomes compassionate. Overall, this actor is very flattering, and they all speak in a more modern and natural way.
In other words, True Colors has not completely got rid of the despicable tendencies of its predecessors. This game is happy to have the same beauty of the indie/DIY music scene as the original, but every song that appears is definitely one you have heard, and it is likely to be found in the rock band game’s settings list. It is a bit difficult to reconcile the dumb in-game indie band name we showed with the actual footage of King Leon, but when it comes to the dubious cultural reference heritage of the series, this is the worst.
In the Life is Strange game I have completed (2 is still a pity for me to be unfinished), True Colors is my favorite. It strikes a perfect balance between focusing on Alex as a person, Haven Springs as a community, and how the two interact and change each other. Although I still don’t like using superpowers as a mechanism or narrative, they are low-key enough, not bad, and do provide more practical operations than walking around, observing things, and talking with people. If you liked the previous entries in the Life is Strange series, then you might like this one. This is a stricter and clearer understanding of the formula, but in essence, it is still the balance between magic and the ordinary, becoming the hallmark of these games.
Disclaimer: Tested on PC. The game publisher provided a copy.