Life is Strange: True Colors Review

Dan Webb

Emotions are at the forefront of everything we as human beings do. They can drive how we react to a situation, they can consume us, they can be infectious; they're what separates us from the other animals. Life is Strange: True Colors effectively takes that notion and uses it as a driving factor in developer Deck Nine’s second crack at the Life is Strange franchise (after their successful foray in Before The Storm).


Meet Alex Chen: fascinated by her own hands.

Alex Chen, True Colors’ protagonist, is an empath. A truly powerful empath, who has no control over her abilities whatsoever, so much so that they control her life; they consume her. After a truly tragic upbringing; one where she’s had to grapple with her almost debilitating power, Alex is given the opportunity at a new beginning in the Rocky Mountain town of Haven Springs, Colorado, with her brother, Gabe. And so, like one would do in her situation, she grabs it with both hands.

The town of Haven Springs itself is quite stunning, and a perfect Life is Strange setting if ever there was one. An idyllic and quaint mining town, Haven serves as the perfect backdrop for a tale of intrigue, mystery, and heartbreak, with its exquisite Main Street, replete with kooky record store, cannabis dispensary, flower shop, and local watering hole. But what makes Haven such a breeding ground for engaging stories is its inhabitants. Yes, I know it’s a cliché to say this, but each character in True Colors’ small town is remarkably three-dimensional, each with their own personality, drives, ambitions, problems, and more importantly, they’re not just some lazy cookie-cutter stereotypes crowbarred-in to fulfil a role.

That’s probably the most that really needs to be said about the game’s setting and its characters, in truth, as they’re definitely best experienced for yourself without any preconceived notions. All I will say is that True Colors delivers an experience brimming with drama, exploring sensitive topics like grief, jealousy, anger, and sadness in such a way that will elicit truly powerful emotions as you play – the way a good story should.

Due to the non-episodic nature of True Colors, however, you could argue that the pace is a little slower than past iterations. Yet, there is enough intrigue early on to keep you hooked, and thankfully there's always a rewarding payoff in the end. What I will say is, that it’s hard after only a single full runthrough to see the impact of the actual choice and consequences you make within True Colors, and whether there is simply an illusion of it - Deck Nine states there are six core endings, which can be different from one another based upon your choices that come into play during chapter 5, but I’m not sure that your decisions actually do matter. From our perspective, True Colors’ narrative is a wild one, even without taking into account the consequences - or not, as the case may be - of your actions.


While Life Is Strange 2’s journey was a struggle – it was a bit bleak from start to finish – True Colors’ plot has a perfect balance of peaks and troughs, lows and highs, which make for an experience more in line with both the original Life is Strange and its spin-off, Before The Storm. Don’t get me wrong, Life is Strange: True Colors is still a heart-wrenching, gut-punch of an experience at times, but there are also some truly beautiful moments that tug on the heartstrings. Thanks to some fantastic writing and some on-point acting – especially from Alex Chen voice actor, Erika Mori – the script of True Colors is truly brought to life from start to finish. Heck, I even laughed out loud more than a few times too, which isn’t easy with my cold, dead heart and permanently cynical outlook.

It wouldn’t be a Life is Strange game without an outstanding soundtrack running throughout the game either, and True Colors is no different in that regard. It’s probably not as strong as the original – as far as soundtracks go, the original was unrivalled – but True Colors is pretty damn fantastic in its own right. With a bit of Kings of Leon, a lot of Angus & Julia Stone, some Bonobo, and a bunch of artists I’ve never heard of who fit the game absolutely perfectly, it’s really hard to fault the music on offer. That’s the beauty with a Life is Strange game: it’s a window into a new host of artists that I’d never heard of before the game started – and will now listen to for years to come – and the audio team need to be commended for that. Plus, no video game series in the history of the world quite nails quiet, contemplative moments with a smidgen of inner monologue, a smattering of perfectly selected music and oodles of cinematography. True Colors is littered with them… in a good way!


Haven Springs is proper beautiful.

What else is littered throughout True Colors - definitely not in a good way – are the weird 5-10 second loading screens, which often completely shatter any kind of illusion or sense of immersion that’s been building, and usually pop up at the most inconvenient times. These fairly long load screens and 30 fps on next-gen consoles, while not too much of an inconvenience, definitely don’t scream next-gen, which is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game.

If there’s one thing for certain when it comes to Life is Strange, Deck Nine truly understands the franchise and what makes it tick – perhaps a bit more than LiS 1 and 2 studio Dontnod do these days. While Life is Strange 2 felt more depressing and not really in line with what we’ve come to love about Life is Strange, True Colors is a genuine return to form. A game that treads the fine line between hopelessness and true joy. Life is Strange: True Colors provides the perfect balance of emotions, and, like the first game and Deck Nine’s spin-off, proves to be yet another must play.

Life is Strange: True Colors

Life Is Strange: True Colors is a return to form for the franchise, which delivers a captivating story from start to finish, one that will see you go through all the emotions. Just like Alex Chen herself.

Form widget
90%
Audio
100%

With a sublime soundtrack and stellar acting – especially Erika Mori who is phenomenal as protagonist Alex Chen – Life is Strange has proven it still can be an industry leader.

Visuals
85%

The visuals are pretty damn great, but where True Colors excels is in its cinematography. Every shot is laced with emotion, just like the story.

Playability
85%

It’s classic Life is Strange point and click fare here, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Delivery
95%

A fantastically written story in a wonderful setting with some incredible story beats – especially chapter 3 – that takes you through all of the emotions. It’s powerful stuff.

Trophies
70%

Loads of collectibles, some side missions, some progression trophies, nothing but standard fare here, and we’re more than okay with that.

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