Video Games
Life is Strange: True Colors Review

Life is Strange: True Colors Review

By Kevin Hoskinson

Entertainment Editor

Life is full of choices. Some are simpler than others, but your decisions can affect everything in your life from that moment on. They often leak into the lives of those around you and change their lives for better or worse. It’s a part of being human and as vital as breathing, eating, and staying hydrated. It’s essential that the media we consume is based on the idea of making choices. The Hero’s Journey is a template that all great storytellers follow; in it, choices and consequences make the story worth telling. 

The Life Is Strange video game franchise is all about choices. The series, first released episodically in 2015, tells the stories of regular people pulled into heavy situations. Much like in real life, your decisions affect the game’s outcome. What makes them even more interesting is that the main characters are always given some “supernatural” ability. In the first one, teenager, Max Claufield has the ability to rewind time and is on the case of her missing friend. Life is Strange has two focuses: Sean Diaz and his younger brother, who has telekinesis abilities as they run from the law after a tragic incident.

Life is Strange: True Colors is the best installment of the franchise so far. In this installment, protagonist Alex Chen can read people’s emotions and even share their experiences. After reuniting with her brother in the small mountain town of Haven, Colorado, a deadly accident occurs that puts her life in shambles. Along with new friends Steph and Ryan, Alex uses her abilities to uncover the truth about the accident and bring closure to a town often at odds with itself. 

While the original game will always hold a special place in my heart, True Colors is a richer and more satisfying experience. Dealing with people’s emotions isn’t something to be taken lightly; the game does an excellent job of highlighting that. Humans are unpredictable creatures, and knowing how to read them is tough, even if you know exactly how they feel. You say or do the wrong thing, and they can go off, which often happens when you do the right thing. During my play-through, there were plenty of times I thought I was doing the right thing, only for it to blow up in my face. That sense of unpredictability makes this game stressful at times but also very rewarding. You can’t rewind time to fix anything, but at least you have the piece of mind knowing you gave it your best shot without any real-world consequences.

I have always been open about my anxiety, and I  realized so much of it stems from the inability to make choices easily. A good percentage of choices are easy ways to stay out of trouble, but the others are difficult. It’s not uncommon for me to lay in bed at night and think about something I said or a decision I made years ago and how it might have turned out if I had done something different. For better or worse, I’m always thinking about it, and that’s why True Colors was somewhat therapeutic for me. Even though I struggled numerous times, it was easier for me to make a hard choice because, in the end, I knew it wasn’t real. The cool thing is that no matter what happened in the game, I could replay it some other time and see how different the other decision would play out. You can’t do that in real life, and being able to do that here gave me relief. 

Beyond making choices, the mystery at the heart of the game is captivating. It unravels at a beautiful pace and leads to a satisfying, if not somewhat predictable, finale. Even though your main goal is to find out what happened that fateful night on the mountainside, it’s almost secondary to the relationships you develop. You can easily make or break them, so keeping your wits about you and staying on guard is essential. Whichever path you choose ultimately leads to the same conclusion, but how people perceive you and the truth will be affected. 

The game’s mood is heightened by its incredible folk rock-heavy soundtrack consisting of Angus & Julia, Navo Armor, mxmtoon, Phoebe Bridgers, Kings Of Leon, and more. Combined with its small mountain town setting, it has a chill vibe and is a place you won’t want to leave. Although I could play the PS5 version, I decided to play it on the Nintendo Switch OLED. Some sacrifices were made to background textures and the world as a whole, but blocking the real world out with headphones made the whole thing feel more immersive. In my opinion, it’s the best way to experience it. 

Life is Strange: True Colors is an emotional journey that goes to some dark and lonely places. I wouldn’t call it a “fun” game, but I enjoyed playing it. Even through tragedy, there is hope for a brighter future if it proves one thing. Alex is a complex and multilayered character who struggles with anxiety on top of dealing with grief and regret, something so many of us can relate to. It was nice getting to know her and the residents of Haven, Colorado; I just wish we got to spend a little more time there. It’s a journey you won’t regret taking.

Rating: 4.5 Pastrami Nations out of 5.

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