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For someone who doesn't like talking or even thinking too much about feelings, I really loved Life is Strange: True Colors. I liked it so much, in fact, that I can forgive having to spell colours without the 'u'. I mean this in the best way: playing True Colors made me feel as if I was within a CW show, and loving every minute of it.
A quick run-down of the plot goes something like this. You are Alex Chen, a young woman who was left in the foster care system for years, before her older brother Gabe contacted her and invited her to live with him in the small, yet complex, Colorado town of Haven Springs. Alex arrives and has a day meeting the wonderful locals, exploring the deliciously vibrant town, fitting in with ease - and everything, just for a moment, is perfect. Yet tragedy strikes: an accident causes kills Gabe and Alex is suddenly alone once again.
Watch a trailer for Life is Strange: True Colors, below...
To add Life is Strange's key supernatural element, Alex also has the ability to see and experience the emotions of others. If a character feels something strongly, Alex can pick up on it - though if she isn't careful it can infect her too, causing trouble. Now here is where I, as a person who can't even listen to love songs without wanting to peel off my skin, might say, "hey, woah woah woah, slow down there partner, that sounds like a one-way ticket to cheese town and I want no part of it." Yeah, on paper it sounds cheesy and uncomfortable. However, I have swallowed my stubborn anti-emotion pride as I admit, I loved this game.
The Life is Strange series and Dontnod and Deck Nine's other works, Tell Me Why and Twin Mirror, are no strangers to laughable moments of cheese and uncomfortable silences. These games often hit a few bumps in the road along the way where you just cringe thinking about something a character says. These moments were often forgivable, though, as they were as endearing as they are embarrassing. In True Colors, Deck Nine treads this line the best. They hit emotional conversations, candid jokes, and internal monologues the most naturally I think I've seen in any video game.
It's helped majorly by the fact that Alex's emotion-based power is actually a little more like mindreading than the game advertises. The emotions Alex can determine aren't just sadness or anger, it's sadness caused by the death of Gabe or anger caused by being put on hold (as one angry man in the street is). She can determine the cause of the emotions with enough stimulus.
This makes for a genuinely interesting gameplay experience and brings a phenomenal detective quality to the story. You're always looking for details, for prompts, for more information on who your counterparts are, and it's astonishingly compelling. The first chapter to the game is all about getting to know the people you're hanging out with and, suddenly, I cared so much about everyone in Haven. You know that your time with Gabe is short so you naturally savour every second of him, looking for any prompt for conversation you can find. It's really special.
And that's without mentioning the incredible visuals of True Colors. Every frame is a picture. I audibly gasped the first time I entered Haven, and that wow factor never really went away. The character models and environment are beautiful, though I did have some visual glitches here and there along the way. Oh, and at a particularly heartfelt and tender moment, Alex's model T-posed and I had to pause because I couldn't stop laughing. So there's that to perhaps look forward to.
So what would I change about True Colors? Perhaps the biggest thing is how I played it, to be honest. There are choices you make that really change how the story plays out and I couldn't help but think about those moments long after they passed. I literally had to get up and walk away from my PlayStation 5 a few times to take a breath when presented with a choice to make. Oh, and sometimes I found myself shouting at the screen when I knew the game was laughing at the choice it was about to present. Those of you that played the original Life is Strange may know how much weight this series puts on even the smallest of details when deciding the fate of the characters you meet.
It's really hard to tell this game to be anything other than it is. It wears its heart on its sleeve and although I sometimes rolled my eyes at Haven's community members, I also gasped, and giggled, and fell deeply in love with some of the people I got to know. Seriously, Deck Nine, it's mean to make me like some of these people this much, geez.
Life is Strange: True Colors is exactly what Deck Nine meant it to be. It's difficult, even when you know exactly how someone feels to say the right thing, encourage the right path, and keep hold of your own emotions too. It's tender but funny. It's cheesy yet sincere. And those of you that loved the original Life is Strange will likely love this, too.
Pros: Lovely dialogue, compelling characters, stunning environment
Cons: Sometimes you'll want to punch your TV when the game gives you a hard choice
For fans of: Life is Strange, visual novels, mysteries
Life is Strange: True Colors is available September 10 for PlayStations, Xboxes, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Stadia. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.
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