Game Reviews

A Welcome Bounceback | “Life Is Strange: True Colors” (2021) Game Review

“Life is Strange: True Colors” came out about a week ago at the time of writing. This was DONTNOD’s first game since the tragic mess that was “Life Is Strange 2”. Following a big letdown of a game, this was their chance to right the ship and reassert themselves as the new trailblazers of the interactive story subgenre.

Did they succeed in doing so? Let’s talk about the pros and cons of this game, starting with the former:

The decision to ditch the episodic release timespan paid off

This article will get into it more later, but this game ends up starting off slow before the action picks up. In fact, things don’t start getting particularly interesting until the second episode. Following a boring, listless game that is “Life Is Strange 2” in which dull episodes were released within three months of each other, a repeat, or even the perception of a repeat of this cycle by the playerbase, would have boded very poorly for this game in the long haul. As such, simply releasing the entire game all at once as opposed to waiting months in between each episode definitely worked here, and DONTNOD hopefully takes this approach with their future games.

Character development was absolutely amazing

In “Life Is Strange 2”, the player is introduced to a ton of should-be important characters that more or less get discarded after about five minutes of spotlight. True Colors definitely did their supporting cast better this time, as every secondary character in the game is well fleshed out and is given enough time in the spotlight for the player to actually care about them. This does come with the minor caveat that a significant portion of said development is done as a ‘side quest’ of sorts, meaning if the player doesn’t explore the game much and just goes right for the main objective, they’ll miss a fairly large amount of said character development. Still, having a cast beyond our main character of important, meaningful characters definitely gave this game depth and breadth.

Alex Chen is a phenomenal protagonist

Sean Diaz in Life is Strange 2 felt relatively robotic and lifeless. Alex is a much different breed. Where her ‘power’ is being able to detect strong emotions found in people around her, it is fitting that her personal relationships with many of the supporting cast take the forefront of her own character development. Alex is a relatable protagonist who was well molded around modern day youth. As such, she is an enjoyable main character.

The zeitgeist is well done up and touches base on an important set of issues

One thing Life is Strange 2 did do well was accurately portray the struggles of being a minority family living in the US. True Colors handles a delicate set of topics just as well; Alex Chen comes from a family whose mother died while young and whose father abandoned them, thus having basically grown up in the foster care system. Alex Chen also encounters problems with a corrupt, wealthy and heavily influential corporate organization who ends up murdering her brother early in the game and uses their stature to make it as hard as possible for Alex to seek any sort of justice or retribution for her brother. These are major current day problems in the real world that this game portrays very well and uses to craft an interesting story out of.

This game is an easy Platinum trophy

For PlayStation users, it should take you around 10-15 hours of gameplay, possibly less, to secure that almighty Platinum trophy. For PC and XBox players, it is likewise still easy to earn achievements to bolster one’s level. Even if you finish a playthrough but fail to earn every achievement in the game, the game’s Scene Select mode will not only seamlessly allow you to revisit scenes where you missed an achievement, but it will even tell you which scenes to go to in order to earn overlooked achievements.

As such, if you’re a trophy hunter, this game will prove to be a nice boon for you.

The game’s presentation is beautiful

The soundtrack is very soothing and catchy, the graphics are beautiful, and the game overall uses tones and coloring that are just very aesthetically pleasing to look at. This game is a great example how video games are meshing more and more with formal works of art by the year.

True Colors wasn’t a completely perfect game. Let’s explore its shortcomings:

It starts off slow

Episode One is fairly boring, though it does get the job done of basically setting the table for the next four episodes to draw the player in. It starts off with Alex officially moving to the town of Haven to go live with her brother following her release from a group home setting. Here, secondary characters are introduced in spades, which can make the episode feel like a series of relatively boring dialogue line spam. 

The player has to really go out of their way to gain the majority of the full experience

If you play the game prioritizing only the main objective in front of you, you will miss quite a lot of character development and general interactivity with the story. A lot of decisions and actions Alex takes which can change the game’s landscape are somewhat hidden and obscured at times, which can make the game feel somewhat lacking if the player doesn’t take every opportunity to thoroughly explore their surroundings before proceeding towards the typically easy way to advance to the next scene. This isn’t necessarily a particularly terrible shortcoming, but it should be warned that players who don’t particularly enjoy ‘side quests’ may feel left wanting more out of this game.

And that’s pretty much it, really.

Overall grade for this game is a well deserved A-.

A bounceback game for sure that will certainly satisfy DONTNOD fans who have loyally been supporters of the company for over half a decade. Go out and get this one, it’s definitely worth the time and money.

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