The Life is Strange series is one that I hold close to my heart, with the blend of heart-wrenching choice-based storytelling and supernatural abilities offering some of the finest narrative-driven experiences on console. Whether playing as Max Caulfield, Chloe Price, or Sean Diaz, it’s hard not to find yourself totally invested in each title’s emotive tale. You can add another name to that list now though, with Life is Strange: True Colours putting players into the shoes of Alex Chen. Much like the others, she makes for another brilliant protagonist in what is yet another brilliant entry in the series.
Just maybe get some tissues ready before you play… Life is Strange: True Colours is one of the most emotionally intense titles that I’ve played for some time.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
I’m going to hold back on narrative details as much as possible in this review, so don’t expect a deep analysis of the story. I will touch upon what kickstarts Alex’s tale though, so if you’re hoping to go into the game blind, you might want to stop reading this review. You’ve been warned.
Alex Chen has had a life of hardship, especially after spending her last eight years in a foster home. Things seem to brighten up after she’s invited to live with her older brother Gabe in the tranquil town of Haven Springs though, with the blossoming relationship with her sibling giving her a sense of belonging. Nothing like a happy reunion, right? Well, Alex soon finds herself completely shellshocked after Gabe dies in an accident, though at least she has the support of the town to help her cope with the latest setback in her life.
Gabe’s death isn’t something she’s going to simply forget about though, especially since she’s convinced there was more to it than it simply being an ‘accident’. It’s something that she’ll only be able to unravel with the help of her new-found friends, though she’ll also have to help them along the way. It wouldn’t be a Life is Strange game without some mysterious powers coming into play, after all, and Alex certainly has those… more on that in a bit, though.
“It wouldn’t be a Life is Strange game without some mysterious powers coming into play, after all, and Alex certainly has those…”
I’ve said that I won’t spoil narrative details in this review, but I will say that it has some of the best storytelling that I’ve seen for some time. The cast of characters are endearing, the writing is absolutely on point and befitting of the vibe of the game, whilst the situations Alex finds herself in bring with them plenty of drama as you push on further to find the truth behind Gabe’s death. Every interaction you share with other characters in-game just feels meaningful, and whilst not ALL of these moments will necessarily impact the grander narrative, I loved learning more about the world and the people that live in it.
It also helps that everything is so beautifully presented. Life is Strange: True Colours really is a stunning game to look at, whether that’s when admiring the idyllic vistas of Haven Springs and taking in the finer details of the landmarks of the town, or simply conversing with another character in-game. It’s clear that a lot of care has been taken to emphasise the cinematic presentation of the experience and it really pays off – especially with the facial animations, which capture every emotion and reaction of the characters who are speaking.
“Life is Strange: True Colours really is a stunning game to look at, whether that’s when admiring the idyllic vistas of Haven Springs and taking in the finer details of the landmarks of the town, or simply conversing with another character in-game.”
And believe me, there will be some emotional moments during your adventure in Haven Springs. Not only because the story itself is packed with both heart-warming and gut-punching moments, but also because of Alex’s ability to sense the emotions that people are feeling and hear the thoughts that convey them. This power ties into the gameplay heavily, with Alex then able to use the things she learns to try and help out those who are struggling, whilst there also times where she’ll enter a manifestation of their mind in order to unravel puzzles tied to their emotions. It sounds peculiar (and sometimes it can be), but it adds an additional layer of intricacy to Life is Strange: True Colours’ gameplay where more is expected of the player.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t too excited about the idea of Alex’s power being driven around human emotion at first, but it’s executed so well in-game that I found myself totally engrossed in the experience. It helps give Alex a deeper understanding of what her fellow inhabitants of Haven Springs are going through too, which is something that can influence the choices you make in the game. In true Life is Strange fashion, players will have to make decisions that can affect how events pan out, with the consequences of some of these decisions proving quite severe and heavily affecting the story. There are multiple endings on offer in the game, and believe me, it’ll be the choices you make that determine how happy and conclusive of an ending you get.
“I’ll admit that I wasn’t too excited about the idea of Alex’s power being driven around human emotion at first, but it’s executed so well in-game that I found myself totally engrossed in the experience.”
Much like previous entries in the series, the decisions you made are displayed at the end of an in-game chapter, with other players’ decisions also displayed to see how your choices stacked up against them. Admittedly, I was guilty of following the majority with the decisions made in my first playthrough, though there were a few instances where I seemed to go against the grain – it’s something that piqued my interest a lot when playing, especially since I often felt that I played things very ‘by the book’.
Playing out the story and taking in the beauty of Haven Springs will push you forward in Life is Strange: True Colours, though there’s optional content on offer for those who seek it out. These include little mini-games included on retro arcade machines, additional interactions with characters, as well as some collectibles to find. It’s certainly worth seeking these out, if only to experience more of the magic that the game has to offer.
“Every piece of music manages to capture the vibe of the narrative perfectly; some of those tunes were familiar, whilst others have quickly found their way into my Spotify playlists.”
I’ve been left in awe of Life is Strange: True Colours and found myself fully invested in the story from start to end. Best of all, it has dropped the episodic setup, meaning its easier than ever to follow the story and binge it in a handful of sessions without the worry of seeing spoilers online. It’s fairly lengthy with my playthrough taking roughly thirteen-hours, but it’s perfectly paced so that every moment of peaceful fun isn’t too far away from the next big story beat.
There’s no way I can talk about a Life is Strange game without mentioning the soundtrack, especially since this one is full of bangers. Every piece of music manages to capture the vibe of the narrative perfectly; some of those tunes were familiar, whilst others have quickly found their way into my Spotify playlists. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself lingering around at times whilst simply enjoying the music around you, with the series once again offering a soundtrack that wonderfully captures each and every emotion of the tale.
Life is Strange: True Colours Summary
Life is Strange: True Colours is a masterful example of storytelling in video games, whilst its beautiful visuals and fantastic soundtrack complement the experience. I was hooked into Alex’s journey from start to end, and whilst it was packed to the brim with some heavy-hitting emotions, the saddest part was seeing it come to and end. It’s THAT good.
The Life is Strange series is a special one and has hit some real highs over the years, but Life is Strange: True Colours is simply the best that it has been. Fans of emotional and gripping storytelling will not want to miss out on this one.
– An emotional and gripping narrative
– Beautiful visuals across both the world and its characters
– The emotion-driven gameplay mechanics add a clever twist to the formula
– Another brilliant Life is Strange soundtrack
– It has to come to an end
Developer: Deck Nine Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC