Life is Strange: True Colors Review: An Emotional Victory
“Sincere and poignant, the only thing Life is Strange: True Colors surpasses is its own words.”
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If you’re looking for a mental health story, finding one is as easy as logging into Twitter and scrolling a bit. The media, regardless of its format, now has several approaches to representing a wide range of mental health issues. The problem of widespread depression or anxiety has been accepted and is now expressed through the characters in the games we play and the shows we watch. At some point, a lot of us realize that, internally, something is wrong, something is not good.
Life is Strange: True Colors around that concept – that we are all, in our own way, broken or wrong. However, the story it tells is not simply about dealing with everyday life. Either way, that’s not a healthy way to live. It’s about embracing those imperfections, fixing them directly, and in some cases, struggling to make sure life is the way it should be.
That message comes to life through the game’s wonderful cast of characters, each with their own unique experiences and traumas. It’s almost impossible to complete Life is Strange: True Colors which has nothing to do with Alex or one of her friends. Even with the incredible story pacing and occasional glitchy dialogue, the game connected with me in a way that not many people have before.
In someone else’s shoes
Life is Strange: True Colors puts the player in the shoes of Alex Chen, a woman who seems to have been through it all. A large part of her life has been spent in the foster care system, which I do not know about directly, but all too familiar thanks to the experience of a close friend. By looking at her phone, the player can see that even the few social relationships she managed to develop during her time in the system have not been eliminated. One ends with Alex seeing the ghost of a boy who begins to expect sex from her after a few hookups, another ending because Alex seems to “panic”.
That oddity is due to Alex’s hidden power, not anything spectacular like flying or shooting lasers. Instead, she’s an odd mix of a psychic and an Empath (a telecommunications line, if you will). She can see how people feel, visualizing through colorful auras appearing around their bodies. When someone feels something, she can touch it and understand the reason behind their feelings. Overall, it’s a powerful tool, one that allows her, along with the player, to get to the core of any character’s motivations. If someone is acting out of fear or anger, Alex can tell and bring that deep emotion to the surface.
However, when she really touches someone’s feelings, Alex’s powers can take her somewhere else. Instead of simply seeing someone’s feelings – albeit on a deeper level than most – she can see the world through their eyes, filtered by their emotions. The experience is strange at times, bringing Alex into the Dungeons & Dragons world imagined by a child. Other experiences are not as pleasant, but still poignant. One of these shows Alex looking through the terrified eyes of a woman who is slowly losing her memory in a “condition”, through the lens of fear that she ends up not remembering the basics, like the face of her own granddaughter. These moments that end up close to home for me are terrifyingly brilliant representations of the fear, rage, and anxiety I’ve felt in my own life.
The experience is strange at times, bringing Alex into the Dungeons & Dragons world imagined by a child. Other experiences are not as pleasant, but still poignant.
Negative emotions that players experience throughout Life is Strange: True Colors both balance moments of tenderness and genuine joy. The game begins with Alex arriving in the town of Haven Springs, Colorado, to move in with her brother, Gabe. Their first day together is a sane moment after moment, with the quiet, reserved shell Alex has built up over the years slowly fading as she’s re-introduced to her brother and family. Tight family was found that he built in a small town.
That perfect day ends with Gabe’s death, an event that puts the rest of the game’s plot into motion. Alex and her two best friends, Steph (who returned from Life is Strange: Before The Storm) and Ryan, begin investigating a mining company in town and cause the explosion that caused Gabe’s death. However, the story of this company’s espionage and conspiracy is mostly in the background in four of the game’s five chapters. There are moments where you’ll focus directly on this plot, but for most of the game, the focus is on Alex and her slow but steady adaptation to a safe place to call. go home.
This leads to a strange imbalance in a story that I often love and connect with. Alex’s fight against the mining company, Typhon, seems like it should be central all the time. Instead, however, it provides an ominous backdrop to the story of Alex’s own personal improvement, and how she’s embraced her new role in Haven Springs as a self-described self. I am a broken person but feel the need to fix others.
For much of the game, the player walks around the small, idyllic town, interacting with locals and helping them solve their own problems. Through these small interactions, Alex builds her own family, gradually replacing the family that died or abandoned her.
While most of these moments are emotional, they are also places Life is Strange: True Colors‘Writing is at its worst. Sometimes, everything the game characters are saying is powerful and relatable, but in other people the words come off empty (and sometimes completely inappropriate). Alex, a 21-year-old, doesn’t need to utter internet-age memes when looking at random objects in the environment. It makes her a relatively less example of people my age (which can be a bit stretchy, since I’m in the prime of 25) and more of a caricature.
Life is Strange: True Colors‘the story, although slow for most, is very interesting. It is not a walk, but a pleasant stroll, something to enjoy at a leisurely pace. However, that feeling changes completely in the final level of the game, when everything turns extremely sharp. The story revolves entirely from Alex’s adaptation to her new environment to her conflict against Typhon. It was a dramatic turn of events, a truly fascinating one. Although I can stop playing at any time during the early chapters of the game, I have to finish after hitting the fifth game.
While most of these moments are emotional, they are also places Life is Strange: True Colors‘Writing is at its worst.
Also in this final chapter, the player will receive one of the six endings of the game. At this point, I’ve only been through the game once, however, I’ll probably give it another go to experience all the things I’ve missed, which the game will generally show at end of each chapter. I don’t think there can be a truly “bad” ending, but some will be worse than others, at least for me. I’ve been trying to get Alex to end up with one of the game’s two love preferences and have been successful in that regard. There are a number of other important decisions players can make about Alex’s future, but I won’t be involved in those.
There is no easy way to recommend Life is Strange: True Colors. It, like the rest of the Life is Strange series, is not a typical game. It resembles a visual novel or point-and-click adventure. The game is a slow, enjoyable experience, perfect for when you want to relax at night or wake up in the morning.
More than that, it was an emotional victory. Experiencing Alex’s adventures and seeing the world through her brilliantly crafted perspective was a joy that hurt me more than I expected. I often write that the Life is Strange series is irrevocable, never giving it the chance it deserves. However, Alex’s story, and the trials of those around her, ultimately came true for me. Their fears, anxieties, and other emotions are all personal and stem from a point that I consider to be common ground. Fear of old age, anger at corporations and their incessant greed, as well as sadness and rage after the loss of a loved one are not exclusive to the characters of this game – it is common feelings. Life is Strange: True Colors, even with its unbalanced story and sometimes slick dialogue, masterfully elevates its emotions.
Is there a better option?
Telltale’s The Walking Dead still reign supreme in this genre. It’s a perfect emotional story for those looking for a more mature game.
How long will it last?
I played through Life is Strange: True Colors it took about 10 hours, but that was only one run. The player can go through the game multiple times to get the ideal ending.
Should you buy it?
Correct. Life is Strange: True Colors relevant on almost any level, providing a solid experience for those who prefer slower, more relaxed games.