LifeisXbox’s Life is Strange: True Colors review | Max and Chloe took gamers and me by storm in 2015. Life is Strange was immediately received by a vocal audience who wanted more. As this is one of my favorite franchises I was glad that we got more, Life is Strange: True Colors is the fifth instalment and the second Life is Strange project from developer Deck Nine. Who earlier released three Before the Storm episodes, a prequel for the first Life is Strange. Key elements from this franchise are decision-making dialogue, meaningful character interactions, finding collectables and secrets in the environments, a strong soundtrack, and mystical powers that spice up the story and gameplay. That’s all present in True Color however, there is one crucial change. Gone is the episodic delivery and for me, that’s a shame as I loved to talk about the cliffhangers and chapter endings on social media. I believe that fan theories are one of the reasons why Life is Strange got so popular and that’s something we will miss now. The game is still structured as episodic but all are released at the same time now. At the end of the day, this doesn’t have any influence on the total game package, Haven Springs is an improved Arcadia Bay, and episodic or not it is a fantastic place for adventures!
What we liked!
- True Color’s supernatural element | Max’s time rewinding, Daniel’s telekinetic power, Before the Storm’s supernatural elements, Chris his alter-ego Captain Spirit. Life is Strange always had something mystical to make it more than a dramatic story. In most cases, it had a direct link to the gameplay too. For True Colors, our young female protagonist named Alex Chen has a special power of empathy, allowing her to read strong emotions. Kinda like Cecile Horton from DC’s The Flash. This might not sound awesome like time rewinding or moving objects with your mind but this new empathy power fits Life is Strange extremely well. A person might be saying something but thanks to the empathy power you get a deeper understanding of topics that the characters are trying to hide or feel uncomfortable with. This has a direct influence on how Alex feels, when someone is aggressive or scared she becomes it too. This causes a lot of trouble in her life, so mental health is once again a big factor in this Life is Strange story and dialogue. The visualization of the empathy powers are nicely done too, auras surround the characters and the color depends on the feeling. When things get too much for her the game turns like she took some kind of trip drug.
- Likeable characters | Reason why Life is Strange has such a following is mainly because of the memorable characters. While nobody in True Colors beats the lovely Max & Chloe, it is the first time that all NPC’s are so fleshed out. Don’t get me wrong, I have a complete game crush on Alex Chen. She’s a very approachable person and her cute appearance isn’t deniable but well.. the nostalgic Chloe still remains my favorite. Haven Springs is full of new characters and all of them have interesting background stories that make them meaningful. There’s even a returning character from Life is Strange: Before the Storm and it was very cool to learn more about her! Hint: She’s voiced by Katy Bentz.
- Soundtrack | I never had more goosebumps while playing a game when Alex started singing Radiohead’s monster hit I’m a Creep. Actually performed by Mxmtoon (listen to her version here). True Colors has a wild licensed Songlist AND a fantastic original score by Angus & Julia Stone. (be sure to check that out on Spotify!) I can almost guarantee that this will easily win all GOTY soundtrack awards. As a music fan, I fully enjoyed all the ZEN-moments that features the incredible soundtrack. Fairly quickly in the game you’ll come across your first zen-cinematic while you arrive at Haven Springs. These kinds of moments have always been in Life is Strange but it truly excels in True Colors. Another goosebump moment is when Alex and her brother start rocking it out on Kings of Leon’s Don’t Matter, this cinematic is also a great example of how great the animations have become.
- Haven Springs | As the brothers went on a road trip in Life is Strange 2 the player visited lots of new places. True Colors takes place exclusively in Haven Spring and the near mountains. As a result Deck Nine had more time to polish and create a truly unique small-town setting. They went that extra mile to make a realistic and highly detailed location, that seems to come straight out of a tourism brochure. You have your local bar, flower shop and even a record shop. The authenticity of this place is incredible and while it simply is a street with a few shops and a park it is by far the most charming place in Life is Strange history. That’s also because the townsfolk bring Haven Spring to life with personal issues and feelings, with Alex’s empathy power you can sort of scan the residents. One example comes from a couple who own an ice cream shop, sales have been going down and they worry if they can make it financially. These are moments that you experience while exploring the environment, there’s this new kind of freedom in the franchise that allows you to explore Haven Springs and find these little side stories.
- They made the gameplay more diverse | Talking with characters and making crucial decisions that change the outcome of the story is still the most important gameplay you’ll get out of this game. But for the first time the gameplay is much more diverse, you’ll be playing mini-games like table soccer (excellently created!), there are fully functional arcade machines and there is one mindblowing chapter moment that completely changes the genre and is honestly one of the greatest things I have played from the franchise. There’s more meat now with puzzles too, in the first chapter for example there’s a fun ‘guess the record’ mini-game that was fun to figure out. True Colors never stops surprising the player with new gameplay elements.
- Performance capture and facial expressions are greatly improved | Emotions are more important than ever in True Colors, with Alex her empathy power the facial expressions needed to be on point, and they are! Previous Life is Strange games had some woody animations but that’s completely gone now. It is the small subtleties that make the difference here, how the eyes move or how characters act when they are angry, disappointed or confused. There’s one particular moment in chapter two that really showed all kinds of facial impressions and that’s when Alex gets confronted with someone who has dementia. I thought this entire gameplay moment was brilliantly done but the body and facial expressions are the real star here.
- Yup, you will cry again | Strenght of this franchise has always been the emotional moments in the story and that’s no different in Life is Strange: True Colors. You’ll have to deal with a lot while playing this and I regularly had to take some emotional breaks. As Alex had a troubled past with dealing with different (bad) foster parents and breaking down emotionally because she feels the angry, sad or scared feelings from other humans it can be a lot to take. Gut-punching is the right term and I can imagine that anyone who is playing this game with similar emotional history will find a strong connection with Alex. Not only the backstory from Alex is heavy but a lot of other mental health troubles, losing loved people, dementia or feeling left out are all topics that regularly show up.
- Superb writing | Connecting Haven Springs and the likeable characters is done by some incredible writing. With multiple backstories, dialogue choices that give high replay value and interesting characters the writing devs did an excellent job in making it compelling, emotional and real. So many games struggle with believable dialogue and Life is Strange: True Colors makes it look so easy. This ain’t no easy task and the developers deserve unlimited praise here. I love to write myself and I’m a bit limited in my words because I’m not a native English speaker but the writing in this game is an inspiration for me.
- Exploring for collectables | I adore collectables in games, Uncharted on Playstation for example is a fine example. In this game you use Alex’s special power to scan for items with an emotional meaning, they are basically memories from the townfolks. You’ll still be looking in every corner like previous Life is Strange games but they gave it much more emotional value and earning an Achievement for finding them is rewarding too.
- MyBlock and cellphone messages | MyBlock is a community application for Haven Springs residents, kinda like Facebook. I really loved to read all the posts and interactions but I found it weird that I couldn’t participate myself. For a game with so many narrative options and decisions, I wanted to choose replies or even something as easy as liking a post or not. Alex’s journal and MyBlock give more insight about her as a character but I wouldn’t have mind more focused on this. Same with the messages on your phone, you can never choose what you reply and Alex loves to ghost people as she rarely replies. One big hint I can give you when you decide to play Life is Strange: True Colors is to read all the past messages on her phone, there are some unexpected important background story elements here.
What we disliked
- (Spoiler alert for previous Life is Strange games!) I do miss the typical episodic releases for discussing with the community about theories, things you missed or expectations | (No score deduction) Let me give you a few examples before I explain this in more detail. If you played Life is Strange before you will know exactly what I mean with the following; seeing how Chloe got paralyzed in chapter 3, finding out who the real kidnapper is in Before the Storm, Seeing Daniel’s first time using powers in Life is Strange 2. What did most of us do? Talk about it on forums or Twitter with like-minded fans. This will be a bit different now by releasing everything at the same time, that typical discussion about future episodes is completely gone now and eliminates a thing that was part of the Life is Strange experience. Luckily the game is still open for suggestion and has a few unexplained stories and secrets so the community can still talk about all of that.
How long to beat the story | 10 hours for one playthrough
How long to achieve 1000G | TBA (Achievements are currently not available yet, only after launch)
Similar with | Telltale games
LifeisXbox.eu is the largest Belgian Xbox centered website, your reading time is greatly appreciated! Please consider sharing this review with your friends on social media, that means a lot for us! If you are Dutch-speaking also consider joining our Dutch exclusive Facebook group Xbox Gamers Belgium. Feel free to use quotes for PR purposes.
Founder | Editor-in-chief | Social Media Manager
Gaming is a passion and I wanted to share my Xbox enthusiasm. That’s why I started LifeisXbox, to make sure gamers all around the world know what games they should buy or avoid. I would like to thank you for visiting my website. Your support is very welcome and I hope you stick around!