25th Nov2021

‘Life is Strange: True Colours’ Review (PS4)

by Chris Cummings

I’m a fan of the Life is Strange franchise and have been since the very first episode of the first game was released back in January of 2015. The first game, the Before the Storm mini-game and Life is Strange 2 were all, in my view, fantastic games with wonderful stories and well-drawn characters. When news dropped that Life is Strange: True Colours, the third full-length game in the franchise, was going to be released, I was excited. So, was the excitement worth it? Does the game live up the hype? Is it as good as the others that preceded it? Let’s talk about that…

Life is Strange: True Colours follows the story of Alex Chen, a young woman who moves to a new town, Haven Springs, to live with her brother and begin a new life, or try to. She’s been through the foster system and children’s homes, had her problems with mental illness and, on top of that, has a secret power that allows her to read and manipulate other people’s emotions. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but deal with she must. You, playing as Alex, are introduced to this whole new town full of interesting, colourful and mysterious characters, and you must decide and navigate this fresh existence you find yourself in. It isn’t, as expected, smooth sailing though. Things get darker as the story progresses and Alex has lots of choices to make, about her life, about those around her, and about her future. It’s all fantastically written and performed by the voice actors, and the way the story builds, with twists, turns and revelations, is perhaps the strongest in the franchise to date.

The characters are really a bright spot here too. Life is Strange games are well-known for creating loveable or memorable characters in these games, but I think True Colours really pushes the boat out this time around, introducing us to a wide array of townsfolk, from Steph, the sparky local radio-DJ and manager of the town’s record store, to your loveable and positive brother Game, to park ranger Ryan, pub owner Jed, flower shop owner Eleanor, and lots more. Alex, though, is the focal point here, and her story, both past, present and future, is fantastic. She’s got grey areas in her tale, she’s as imperfect as all of us, and her sense of humour and moments of sadness held to carve out a character who surpasses the depth of any previous one in the game series’ history.

Life is Strange: True Colours looks lovely, and sounds awesome, with a soundtrack featuring songs from bands like Angus & Julia Stone (who released the soundtrack album, titled Life is Strange, in August 2021), Pond, Gabrielle Aplin, Foals, Maribou State, Phoebe Bridgers, Girl in Red and more, as well as covers of songs by Radiohead and Violent Femmes. It’s part folksy and part rock, with acoustic rhythms and timid rustic drums echoing the valleys, streets and rooftops of Haven Springs for five magnificent episodes. The game is a similar length as the other games, feeling long enough but short enough that you could perhaps have enjoyed a bit more. You can take your time, too, with moments of still thought never far away. You can put on a record and sit on the couch, you can play your guitar and think about life. These moments help to slow down the playthrough, giving those who want to spend more time in this world the chance to do so.

Life is Strange: True Colours is a bloody great game, bringing emotional depth, thrilling twists, romantic softness and relatable characterisations into a town that, even with the dark shadows at its corners, is so beautiful and charming you can’t help but want to move there yourself. Another home-run from Deck Nine and Square Enix, then, and the DLC, entitled Wavelengths, in which you play as Steph, is a great deal of fun too. Definitely worth grabbing the deluxe edition of the game for. I loved this, and am looking forward to Life is Strange 4, whenever that may be.

***** 5/5

Life is Strange: True Colours is out now.

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