The best the series has been, Life Is Strange True Colors is a game that perfectly addresses the fast-paced world in which we live and the need to slow down and reassess what really matters.
Set in the idyllic mountain town of Haven Springs, Colorado. You play as Alex Chen, a young girl recently reunited with her estranged brother as she tries to integrate herself into the small community where everyone is family. Unbeknownst to everyone though is that Alex can feel the emotions of others through a synaesthetic surge of colour and when the emotion is powerful enough, it can completely consume her – forcing her to feel the full brunt of what ails them and potentially uncover why they feel it. (Anxiety = Purple, Anger = Red etc.) So, when a tragic event rocks the fabric of this close-knit community, it’s up to Alex to uncover the secrets of Haven Springs.
When fully immersed into the world and the choices presented to you, True Colors like no other before highlights what you as a player truly value in life; holding up a mirror that makes you think about who and what you want from life – worthy of the Games for Impact award.
At its core, True Colors focuses on the theme of belonging, pride and a “Get out of life what you put in” attitude that inspired me to push forward and persevere through the hard times which is quite prevalent for the current climate. Community led events are what act as a springboard for most of the games narrative and further solidify the ideal that life is better when everyone can offer something that another might need and that no contribution is too small in the grand scheme of things. It’s these slice of life moments in the game where the people of Haven Springs band together that I will remember the most and is only further magnified by the dramatic and emotionally charged storyline in between. With this in mind, every character battles with a lost sense of self each in their own different way and it’s not until they start extending/accepting a helping hand from others do they learn more about themselves. When a game focuses so purely on a specific subject for its cast and yet are still able to portray such a complex array of personalities and stories, you know you’re in for a treat.
Much to my delight, interactable objects are far fewer than in Life is Strange 2 and pertain to the narrative with more import than what has come before. Certain objects will leave a remnant of emotion from their owners and be highlighted with their respective flare of colour that Alex can use to uncover more backstory and information to guide her choices. It’s a welcome addition that helps with keeping the exploration more worthwhile as you wander Haven Springs and come across the more “Mundane” of focal points like a leaky tap or paper drawings.
In a typical fashion of the series, every character you meet will be shaped by the decisions you make and the consequences are not always so clear cut but, where True Colors stands out is a more deliberate focus on being more conscientious as a player – allowing the characters to operate with their own autonomy to try and figure things out rather than actively manipulating their ideas on what you think is the right course of action.
The series as a whole has always taken a specific interest in using alternative Indie music to fit the theme of their thought-provoking series and honour the deeper story about the trials and tribulations of modern youth while giving it that supernatural flair for interesting gameplay. True Colors is no different, in fact it leans into this feature at a level akin to the iconic move from Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal with integral characters taking a specific interest in music. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll take away at least one song from the soundtrack and add it into your playlist rotation.
Pairing this musical sway with a super saturated visual style that has no shortage of stunning vistas. True Colors in all of its five chapters offers plenty of opportunity to slow your progression and take a moment to reflect on the situation - basking in the beauty of the painted art style. Suffice it to say, True Colors is a joy on the senses that does its best to replicate the feeling of Alex’s synaesthesia in every aspect of its core design and simulate it for the player. It’s quite surprising though that with all the visual spectacle on offer that there is no photo mode for the advocates to take copious amounts of filtered fabulousness and share with other fans.
With the ever-growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, Life Is Strange: True Colors offers a gentle introduction to the world of table top gaming as many of the characters are designed with a history and interest in high-fantasy. (There’s even a clever plug of Critical Role and their merchandise in the Wavelengths DLC … you know, that show where “nerdy ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons”) That being said, table top gaming is still not going to be to the tastes of everyone and hopefully those people will be able to cast aside those moments to appreciate the cast of likable characters in all of their facets. With a cast so well portrayed both in the main story and in their optional social media and phone chat dialogue (Which doesn’t shy away from its real-world inspiration of our modern digital lifestyles where you’ll find your choices reflected online and everyone will have an opinion on it, there will also be discourse on the political spectrum both left and right.) You’ll be hard pressed to find a character that does absolutely nothing for you.
To wrap up the review with a rainbow ribbon, True Colors is a fantastic entry to the series that takes the lessons from its predecessors and doubles down on its thematic plot devices to bring to the player a truly unique assault on the senses in the best way possible.