Life is Strange: True Colors Hands-on Preview – Not Afraid to Make You Sad

  • Life is strange: true colors he wears his heart on his sleeve as Alex Chen strums a plaintive rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” on guitar.

  • From Portland, Alex embodies the hipster-chic look the series is known for.

    Square enix

  • Fortunately for Alex, people tend to turn around when they need to read their strongest emotional auras.

    Square enix

  • Haven Springs is a city that earns its name.

    Square enix

  • Alex accompanies his brother Gabe and his friend Ryan to an abandoned mining site.

    Square enix

  • There is an underlying musical personality everywhere True colors (even on the loading screen).

    Square enix

  • One of the many sad scenes in the game.

    Square enix

  • Haven Springs looks a lot like an old western movie set.

    Square enix

This preview is based on limited prints tested on PS5 and made available by Square Enix prior to the game’s release on September 10.

With four games released in the last six years (including a mini-spin-off, The Amazing Adventures of Captain Spirit), the Life is strange The series has earned a reputation for being an unlikely type of narrative adventure. Its YA leads, hipster coming-of-age stories, and proximity to trauma make it part of a specific genre, and the series has unexpectedly proven itself adept at reinventing itself from scratch.

In theory, these fundamentals could suggest a (hear us out) Silent Hill-style problem that the series has so far managed to avoid. But where Konami’s survival horror series punished its protagonists through unique, hellish manifestations that reflected their specific inner demons, Life is strangeSupernatural abilities strengthen your characters. Our protagonists are not defined by their tragedies. They can be anything, allowing series developers much more freedom to try out new ideas.

A new beginning

Its latest sequel, True colors, is a great example of how versatile Life is strange ‘s conceit may be. Rather than being able to go back in time or practice telekinesis, protagonist Alex Chen is a real empath who can see people’s emotions physically. She feels his feelings as strongly as if they were hers. His gift is something of a reversal of the series’ normal motives, leading to a series of compelling scenarios and choice-based dilemmas during the several hours we spent testing the game. It’s classic Life is strange however, projected in a new non-episodic light.

Alex’s power feels more basic than that at first. Most of the first chapter sees her leaving a troubled foster care life in Portland to live with her estranged brother Gabe in Colorado. While meeting Gabe’s friends and getting to know his new home in Haven Springs (or Haven, as the locals call it), the action unfolds mostly in typical Telltale fashion: a minor dialogue choice here, a moral decision of major branch there. This isn’t a huge departure from the series, and the usual minor environmental investigations, interactions, and light puzzle solving occasionally interrupt conversations.


That’s not to say that this focused character development is poorly done. Although initially somewhat awkward (reflecting Alex’s feeling of being a stranger) and perhaps a touch too serious emotionally before fully understanding what makes someone tick, the dialogue is crisp and authentic, which hasn’t always been true with this one. Serie. Despite their distance, the bond is evident between Alex and Gabe, whose heart of gold and goofy exuberance is so contagious that you can’t help but like him. This base becomes central to the story as it progresses and gradually reaches all the inhabitants of the city.

Pure empathy

A fascinating, if perhaps overlooked implication of Alex’s empathy is that it essentially allows him to practice a form of, uh, benevolent emotional manipulation. At first, you can only express a worried voiceover after experiencing someone’s intense anger or pain. But as the game progresses, she finds it necessary to push the dialogue in one direction or another. Getting new information or changing your perspective in various situations soon becomes critical to problem solving.

Of the chapters we played, Alex’s ability to manipulate other characters was only briefly addressed in the pages of his journal. (Reading her journal is optional, as are social media and organically written text messages that light up the lives of the rest of the cast.) But his manipulation skills could become more difficult in the final act of the game. Either way, as Alex realizes his true potential, he discovers that it is possible to change his perspective in surprising ways. Without going into too much detail, this opens up rich and imaginative new layers of exploration, introspection, and its effect on the world.

Though elevated by strong acting and writing, the script we saw didn’t always make an effort to prioritize the “serious” plot that drives its core mystery, which can seem odd depending on what you’re looking for. And we found small inconsistencies in the dialogue based on actions that the player has taken or has not taken. The game is nothing to write home about from a technical standpoint, with sporadic frame drops as you explore Haven Springs and unpredictable visual quality. And don’t get us started with inexplicable loading times of over 10 seconds every time Alex enters a new scene or building, despite running on the PS5 with SSD.

Still, to focus on these objections would be to miss the point. Square Enix hasn’t been shy True colors revolves around loss, and it’s through Alex’s new relationships and shared experiences with his new community that the game shines. True colors It might end up being the most genuine reinvention of the series yet.

Life is strange: true colors trailer.



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