The Life is Strange series lives up to its name – it shows the strangeness of life from different angles. In the first part and the prequel, Before the Storm, – the life of a small town, where, as it turns out, the hell is going on. In the sequel – a whole country where two young guys are faced with the cruelty and injustice of the vast world. In True Colors, the series returns to a smaller scale, but emotionally breaks through worse than in all past games.
Each Life is Strange evoked a variety of emotions, but one thing united them – the need to make difficult decisions. And unlike the Telltale games, where the timer forced you to do everything quickly and put up with the consequences, no one is in a hurry here. Perhaps this approach is even more difficult – you sit for several minutes, move the stick left and right, not daring to press the button and move further along the plot. But the fact that you are not indifferent to the fate of the characters and you think in your head where this or that action will lead is a great success for a story-driven game.
It’s a pity, the developers are unlikely to repeat themselves, and we will not see new stories with Alex
In True Colors, this happens more than once or twice. At the same time, you intellectually understand that the consequences are unlikely to be significant – well, a couple of replicas in the next scene will change, well, you will then meet with one person, and not with another. It has always been this way, and this part is no exception. But all the same, I want the best for the characters: to help those in need, to support in difficult times, to give practical advice. To make the tiny town of Haven Springs, where the main character Alex came to her brother, an ideal place where I would like to live further.
Alex’s fate is not the most pleasant – she spent eight years in a boarding school. Her brother Gabe’s life was also not sugar. But in Haven Springs, it seems like you can start from scratch. Few residents know each other, have created their own social network and regularly have fun in a variety of ways. Studying signs and notes, you learn about all kinds of lotteries, competitions in bread baking and other events – one cooler than the other. We are directly involved in a couple of them – if you liked the tabletop game in D&D in Before the Storm, get ready for an even larger and more exciting episode in the same spirit.
Not all houses can be entered, but the main ones are open almost at any time.
Thanks to advanced technology, all the residents of Haven Springs are so beautiful, pleasant and – most importantly – alive that you instantly fall in love with them. This time, a lot of attention was paid to facial animation; the work is clearly colossal – all the characters seem to be real people with feelings and emotions. This is especially true of Alex – slightly noticeable smirks, grimaces, eye movements and other details make her so alive that everything inside turns upside down in sad scenes, and in funny ones you smile with the heroine. Against her background, Max from the first part looks like a “piece of wood”, so it will be interesting to look at the remaster, where the animation will be remade.
Most likely, this is why the developers chose the ability to determine the emotions of the heroes as Alex’s superpower. When a person is very angry, very afraid or unspeakably happy about something, an aura appears around him. At these moments, Alex can not only read the thoughts of another character, but also temporarily move into him – see the world around him through the eyes of his goal. But she needs a strong emotion, so doing this with everyone in a row will not work. So sometimes Alex has to piss people off or force them to think about something sad.
It’s time to find out what’s going on in her head
Sounds simple even by the standards of Life is Strange – the ability to rewind time, as well as telekinesis, seem to be much more interesting skills. But the Deck Nine collective showed back in Before the Storm that you can tell great stories without fantastic super powers. Here, a lot of emphasis is placed on the visual design that accompanies all these manipulations with unsuspecting people. The virtual operator selects angles that make some moments look like an art house movie, and the graphic effects brilliantly convey the emotional state of the characters.
Alex often uses her gift in plot episodes – as soon as she arrived in Haven Springs, a tragedy immediately happened, the investigation of the reasons for which she has to deal with. Sometimes the heroine helps people cope with emotions, sometimes she tries to trick people into getting something important. Our business is to feel ourselves in the shoes of another person and look around for objects with which we can interact. Then Alex will read the thoughts connected with these objects and will be able to use this knowledge in dialogues, achieving his goals.
Everyone has their own cockroaches
We will not talk a lot about the plot – even what is happening in the first episode is better not to know in advance, this is a big spoiler. We can only say that the main story is smeared here in about the same way as in the first Life is Strange – in the first three episodes it does not really advance, but then it accelerates more and more rapidly and reaches such an apotheosis that has not yet been in the series. In the last episode, everything is brilliantly combined: you admire the facial animation even more, the acting work is amazing, and visually it is an absolutely outstanding work.
The ending successfully connects everything that happened in the game before it, and over the past two hours, the writers skillfully add details to the story, without which the ending would not have worked. One after another, beautiful scenes are shown that are imprinted in the memory, and at some point everything is so successfully intertwined that it is impossible to tear yourself away from the screen. You want to see how it all ends, and at the same time you pray that the ending will be successful and not have to regret the decisions made earlier.
Dialogue choices still don’t change the story much, but this is already a feature of the series.
But this does not mean that the rest of the episodes are worse than the last one – this is not at all the case. In them, the player gets to know the heroes, the fate of which he is not indifferent to. We wander the streets of tiny Haven Springs, studying the signs and visiting new friends. We read local Facebook and SMS messages that we don’t want to miss. We look into the minds of anxious or joyful people – either just for the sake of interest, or for the sake of peculiar side tasks (they are easy to miss, but they make this world even more atmospheric).
As a result, True Colors raises a lot of topics that fit perfectly into the canvas of Life is Strange: the bitterness of loss, love and hate, the ability to forgive and the desire to take revenge, happiness and the pursuit of it, self-acceptance and much more. This is exactly what Life is Strange should be – the ability of developers to juggle all this and not turn what is happening into a mess is truly amazing. And this despite the fact that the new game was not done by the same people who were responsible for the very first part of the series.
As before, there are always plenty of objects around that Alex has something to say
The Deck Nine team has done a brilliant job, and this is one time the student has surpassed the teacher. In many ways True Colors is the best Life is Strange. You can blame the game only for the fact that it seems to be trying to repeat the original – also a small city, also a local conflict, also a girl in the lead role, even the structure is similar. But is it so important if the result is great?
wonderful atmosphere of a small town where everyone knows each other;
charming characters that are well voiced;
great facial animation brings characters to life;
luxurious visual design of scenes in which Alex’s superpower is used;
plot decisions, as usual, are not easy to make;
a brilliant final episode.
the main plot accelerates so long that you can forget about it until the fourth episode.
The game looks very nice and cozy, and the characters are superbly animated. It’s a shame that even PS5 didn’t get rid of downloads between locations.
As always, a great soundtrack with compositions included at the most appropriate moments. The voices of the heroes are also excellent.
Single player game
This time, all five episodes are released on the same day, and their duration is the same as before – in total, the passage takes about ten hours.
Best Life is Strange and big triumph for Deck Nine, once again successfully taking over from Dontnod.
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