Life is Strange is a franchise that since 2015 has been stirring the hearts of fans of narrative games. On September 10th comes the third chapter, True Colors, in which the player will be in control of Alex Chen, a girl who after spending years in orphanages and foster families finds her brother and tries to start a new life in the city of Heaven Springs.
As in the other titles in the series, the protagonist has powers, which this time are focused on empathy. Alex can read, absorb and even manipulate the strong feelings of those around him, but he considers this gift a curse and has already had problems because of it.
Upon meeting his brother Gabe, he introduces her to what appears to be the most wonderful city on Earth, with cute, super-friendly people—just like that of someone who has something to hide. But no spoilers here; let’s talk about our experience with the game.
The first chapter is good for the player to get acquainted with the game and the mechanics of Alex’s powers, hunting objects and conversations to better understand what goes on there and meet the inhabitants, including the two possible love interests of the protagonist: Ryan , a good-looking ranger, and Steph, the radio host and saleswoman at the town’s record store. Who played the spin-off Before the Storm will remember her.
What matters is that when things are starting to settle down, Gabe dies in a very suspicious accident. From there, Alex swears he’ll find out everything behind the events that ended his brother’s life.
The game takes place almost entirely in a small area of Heaven Springs, with places that can be visited, such as the record store, the Black Lantern (Jed’s bar), Eleanor’s Flower Shop, the city park… places that hide many rewards, surprises and secrets. Using Alex’s power it is possible to “read” the residents of Heaven Springs, whose stories they can follow and influence throughout the main narrative, or just discover things to expand the city’s lore.
Alex’s power also allows her to see auras around objects with high resonance and evoke strong memories connected to them. Most of the game’s trophies and achievements are connected to these memories.
One cool thing is that the way Alex sees a person or an object tends to change after using the power on an aura, so the ideal is to interact with everything first and then use the power to interact again to gain access to new dialogues and knowledge.
All discoveries are noted in Alex’s diary, which the player can access at any time to consult information about someone. In addition, you can access a social network called MyBlock, which is like a Twitter for residents. She doesn’t have a huge influence over the main story, but it’s nice to see Alex’s comments on some posts.
To “kill time”, it is also possible to play the bar arcades: the classic arkanoid and Mine Haunt, which was created especially for the game and pays homage to the 8-bit classics. It’s no big deal, but elements like that are really fun in these narrative games, as they come out of the conventional chatter, and there’s even a “friendly” foosball competition between Alex and Steph, also with this take on getting out of the same.
The game has very interesting characters, which is a “must have” for narrative games, of course. However, everything seems unexplored. Without wanting to spoiler, an example is Mac, Riley’s boyfriend, who is portrayed as super-jealous and a sucker; although it has a nice development during the game, in the end it seems a bit empty.
Ryan, even though he’s one of Alex’s romantic interests, isn’t very well developed either. He is the son of Jed, the hero of the town, and he became a ranger out of a desire to protect the people in the mountains, but there is nothing much about him beyond that. Jed owns the Black Lantern bar, a nice gentleman who is very good to Alex and his brother.
Steph has more interesting moments, like when she’s planning a citywide RPG to cheer Ethan up after Gabe’s death. The game even plays with that, turning into a turn-based RPG with epic battles with sinister bosses. We miss this break in the game’s routine, of transforming to enchant; if True Colors do it more often, we would have enjoyed it more.
Steph is so distinguished from the rest of the characters that she already has her own DLC scheduled to come out on September 30th for those who buy the Deluxe Edition or the Ultimate Edition.
There are some small side stories with some extra characters, like the ice cream couple, who seek to create an amazing new flavor for the ice cream parlor, or the bird watcher and the runner who seeks inspiration to run again or even give a couple in love a little push find love.
However, you can’t not compare True Colors with the first Life is Strange. Maxine and Chloe’s story seemed to cause more tense moments, and the choices we had to make seemed a lot more complicated than Alex’s, and some of them even impacted the death of some characters and talked about pretty heavy stuff like bullying and suicide, really leaving an impact on the player and making him feel responsible.
Not that the choices of True Colors are bad — some are even good — but it seems a bit monotonous when compared to the first Life is Strange.
The ending choices are very heartfelt and reflect the journey in Haven Springs and the relationships built with the townspeople. There are six main endings, and we did two. Chapter five is the final one, as this is where the game computes all decisions during gameplay and reveals the outcome of all actions, interactions and decisions.
We liked the two endings we did, and we can say that in one of them everything was amazing, justice was done and everyone lived happily ever after in Heaven Springs, as far as possible. In the other, even though justice had been done, Heaven Springs suddenly lost its charm, and Alex thought it made more sense to live life away from it all, but still with the one you loved.
There are several possibilities, but the truth is that we weren’t as excited to do them all as we did with the first game.
It is worth it?
Life is Strange: True Colors is a good game for anyone who is a big fan of narrative titles and exploration of environments. For us, its narrative loses badly to that of the first game; despite having had a lot more marketing than the second one, it’s not much better.
What made us most upset was the performance. Even playing the PS5 version, we had abrupt and even constant frame drops, and look, it’s not an extremely heavy game, which will use all the power of the machine. Really, it felt like we were playing the PS4 version, because graphically it’s lacking. We understand that the graphic style of the series follows a pattern, but the characters look like they were created in the the Sims 4 (which came out in 2014).
Now, the easiest point to criticize is the prices charged. As much as we like to Life is Strange (that’s why we feel very comfortable to criticize), paying R$300 in the standard version is absurd. So imagine paying more for a DLC — which should come with the game, for that price.
The Ultimate version, with remasters from the first and from Before The Storm, is costing R$ 400 on PSN, so we reaffirm: as much as you like the franchise, the ideal would be to wait for a good promotion to buy. And we’re not just criticizing the Brazilian price, as abroad Santard is costing US$ 60 and the Deluxe, which comes with Steph’s DLC, US$ 70; that is, also above what we believe the game offers.
Anyway, Life is Strange: True Colors is a good storytelling game, with a plot that can be a bit cliché, but still tells a good story. The soundtrack is sensational, with very famous songs and some even performed by Alex herself, giving that feeling of immersion to the game. Even so, the songs don’t score as much as Syd Matters’ “Obstacles” or “To All of You” in the first game.
Alex’s power is very interesting and makes you want to understand the characters better and explore everything until the end, but as we said, we’re not as tempted to test the other possibilities over and over again, as in the first game.
Life is Strange: True Colors has been kindly provided by Square Enix to carry out this analysis.
- engaging characters
- Alex’s power allows for a cool exploration of characters and memories
- sensational soundtrack
- dated graphics
- Poor performance even on a new-gen console
- Price too high for content offered