Life is Strange: True Colors

I reviewed the original Life is Strange three years ago. Since then, there are been a few more games released in the series, but I gave them a pass. While I like the original game, I didn’t feel a need to explore any sequels or offshoots.

I became interested in Life is Strange: True Colors when (a) I finally squeezed out all the juice I could out of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and (b) in shopping for a new game, I learned that there was essentially no story connection between Life is Strange: True Colors and any of the other games in the series. Indeed, if there were any references to prior games, I did not see them or their presence did not affect my appreciation of the story at all.

Like the other games in the Life is Strange series, Life is Strange: True Colors is a narrative game; don’t play this one if you’re looking for a real-time action sim or an RPG. You play Alex Chen, a young adult, who arrives in the small town of Haven Springs, Colorado in 2019. She’s there to meet with her brother and establish a life for herself after being bounced around in orphanages and foster homes.

In the original Life is Strange, the protagonist had the ability to rewind time. In Life is Strange: True Colors, Alex is able to read people’s emotions in the form of colored auras. Depending on how much she focuses, she can listen to people’s surface thoughts, drain them of negative emotions by transferring them into herself, or even enter small emotional worlds where she can read histories the memories of objects. The system is fairly intuitive; I had some difficulty with it at the start of the game, but only because I missed a tutorial hint.

As with most narrative games, the story is shaped by the choices you make. You can choose with whom to make friends, or whom to romance (if you want to romance anyone at all). Some the choices are meant to be tough: You may be able to alter someone else’s emotions, but is that always a good idea? Like most such games, the game’s replayability comes from making different choices as you play.

I feel that the story in Life is Strange: True Colors is stronger than one I remember from Life is Strange. The earlier game dragged a bit with some graphical issues and in story flow. LiS:TC also drags at time, but only because I felt compelled to listen to all the characters’ dialogs. Alex is given a mystery to solve; though there are large sections of the story that focus on her social relationships, they felt organic to the developing story, while in LiS many social interactions felt grafted onto the underlying mystery.

At present, the latest Life is Strange: True Colors costs about $60 while the earlier Life is Strange is about $20. I recommend both games, but if you can afford it (or can afford to wait) I suggest going for the later game.

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