Life is Strange: True Colors Review – Masterful Exploration of Empathy

If you ever searched for emotional games on Steam, you’ve run into the Life is Strange franchise. They’re the kind of games that dwell in heavy waters, full of difficult themes and harsher sides of humanity. Exploring hardships, isolation, hate, grief, sadness, and other such dark subjects isn’t easy.

But Deck Nine excels at doing just that. If you’re one of the people considering buying Life is Strange: True Colors on Steam but don’t know if you’re going to like the game, keep reading. This review sums up the game and all its aspects perfectly, while also pointing you to a place where you can buy a Life is Strange: True Colors Steam key for a crazy-low price.

Life is Strange: True Colors and its Protagonist

Fans of Life is Strange games can feel right at home with Alex. She’s a troubled young girl, charismatic and lovable while remaining human and vulnerable. Alex has a problematic and tragic backstory, a unique power that plays into the game’s plotline, and the story takes place in a small, tight-knit community located someplace far away from gigantic skyscrapers and whatnot.

I wasn’t too excited when I learned about Alex’s superpower. Going into this Life is Strange: True Colors review, I thought it’s just another crutch to help progress the storyline and make the gameplay easier. While I wasn’t completely wrong, Alex did impress with her powers and so did the devs with how they showed it.

You see, Alex is a foster home child. As we all know, 99% of countries have a horrendous foster home system. Most children never feel the warmth of a real home. The worst case is they get stuck with an abusive step-parent. So these kids developed a heightened sense of empathy. After all, you need to know when the adult is angry to avoid angering them more and endangering yourself in the process.

Alex using her superpowers on Steph
Image credit: Deck Nine

True Colors shows empathy in its purest form. It’s not something that’s always a good thing. In the first Life is Strange game, Max had the ability to rewind time. It came with certain conditions. In Life is Strange 2, your little brother possessed the power of telekinesis and you had to teach him how to use his powers to lead him away from the path of a supervillain.

Empathy is a very real superpower. In True Colors, it lets Alex see people’s auras. She can even peer deeper into their anger, fear, sadness, etc., and understand what’s causing all these negative emotions through certain objects.

True Colors shows a “real” superpower

Being an empath isn’t easy. Most assume empathy lets you become the paragon of justice and understanding. However, the real world doesn’t work like that. Extreme sensitivity to other people’s feelings comes with a ton of downsides as well.

As they say, too much of anything is a bad thing. And so you need limitations. It just seems True Colors wants to explore the depth of empathy while severely underusing it as a mechanic in the game. Alex can absorb someone’s painful emotions. Which is really cool, but then we don’t really see the consequences of that. Does she truly help people with this power? Would it be better to let them deal with their pain alone so they can learn how to cope with pain, loss, grief, and so on?
On the other hand, we do see what excessive empathy does to the one “cursed” with such an ability. Self-harm is just one of many ways of dealing with overbearing empathy. Alex doesn’t know how to remain self-conscious when she takes in too much of any emotion. That’s the worst part of being so overly sensitive to other’s emotions. You snap once it becomes too much to handle.
Alex and Gabe talking
Image credit: Deck Nine

But Life is Strange: True Colors helps us see how Alex evolves past her unhealthy coping mechanisms by doing what the Life is Strange games do best – Torturing their hero.

Life is Strange continues its tradition of torturing its hero (a little)

Alex developed her powers while she was in the social care system. She was away from her sweet brother Gabe, but that separation ends once he locates Alex and invites her to come live with him in Haven Springs.

A heartwarming reunion. Quite a strange thing to see in a Life is Strange game. But if you saw any marketing material for this game, you know it didn’t last long. When Gabe loses his life in an accident, we get our usual Life is Strange formula. Seeing how people deal with sudden and mind-splitting trauma.

As always, the writers portray anger, disbelief, sorrow, and everything in-between as perfectly human as it can be. Our heroine and the residents of Haven Springs then have to heal from this gaping wound the best way they can.

But you know there’s going to be repressed feelings, hidden agendas, scheming, plotting, and so on. It’s a standard Life is Strange affair, albeit a tad bit tamer when you remember Life is Strange 1 and 2. Furthermore, don’t expect grueling consequences to haunt you for one bad decision you’ve made a while ago. This franchise entry doesn’t rely on that at all.

Life is Strange: True Colors and its Setting

At least Deck Nine isn’t scared to show just how much they love small and charming American towns. Almost dreamy to a fault, Haven Springs has the stunning Rocky Mountains in the background, luscious flora, and fauna all around, a mix to warm and cold colors decorates each location. It’s everything you want to see in a remote location that was custom-made for the perfect getaway vacation.

The stunning scenery of Haven Springs
Image credit: Deck Nine

Haven Springs is the series’ most magical location yet

While the series never went for “best-looking title out there”, True Colors is Deck Nine’s most visually stunning title. The environments, the characters, the cutscenes, the lighting, even the art direction overall looks pleasant and vibrant. But the most impressive feat this game achieves is the “home” feeling everything has.

Do you know how a place has this certain warmth to it? Makes you want to take off your shoes, lie on the bed with a blanket and fall asleep next to a comfy and warm house furnace? That’s what True Color evokes in everything, from the houses to the characters and everything else you can interact with.

And interacting is what you’ll be doing in Haven Springs. Read newspaper clippings, check out old photos. Learning more about this world is a joy since everyone’s written with such detail and complexion. What’s strange, however, is Haven Springs’ scale. You’d expect a lot of exploration, considering how big this place seems. But that isn’t the case, as this is still a linear game with some player freedom but not as much as you’d expect at first.

Where “home” lies

Remember Steph? From the Life is Strange: Before the Storm prequel? She’s not someone I expected to see while I was preparing this Life is Strange review, and yet here she is in Haven Springs. A record store owner and the resident radio DJ, Steph continues to capture the hearts of many together with many other residents.

Steph smiling
Image credit: Deck Nine

One of them is Gabe’s best friend Ryan. He’s the cuddle bear local park ranger that’s built like a well-oiled machine. Well-spoken, sincere, and just the most wholesome person you can meet in a faraway little town. Both Steph and Ryan serve as Alex’s possible love interests. Life is Strange continues its legacy of having a bisexual character in this game as well.

Similarly, a ton of other support characters make their impression on us as well. There’s Gabe’s girlfriend that’s going through an especially rough time as she mourns the death of her significant other while being a single mam with a kid from a previous relationship. There’s the wise and old local hero, who’s also Ryan’s dad, that gives our heroine a job and shelter. A heavy hitter is included as well in the form of one old lady that’s dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

The good, the bad, the believable. Everyone in this town seems like someone you know in real life. Because Deck Nine knows how to make memorable characters that you carry with you long after you finish the game. So it’s understandable why Alex quickly settled here. Haven Springs just feels like home.

Two characters interacting
Image credit: Deck Nine

Life is Strange: True Colors and its Emotional Storytelling

Life is Strange 1 & 2 deal a lot with trauma and how one copes with it. Those titles explore grim aspects of life most media never dares to touch, let alone unravel completely. Yet, Life is Strange: True Colors wants us to invest ourselves into one girl that’s learning about dealing with her emotions.

Some may like this shift in tone, others won’t, but it makes for a compelling journey. Alex isn’t the most outrageous protagonist. She’s not deeply messed up or scared or traumatized so much that it makes her who she is. But her past did bestow her with “powers” that are hard to deal with. So the storytelling this time lets us intimately into Alex’s world while also commenting on the power of emotions as a whole.

Alex’s power needed better development and usage

Alas, while the power of empathy gets a lot of limelight, it needed better usage and development in the game. You see, people leave marks on items in this world. Someone might leave a trace of anxiety on their phone. The owner was quite jumpy about a certain call and Alex understands that once she interacts with the said item.

While this whole empathy superpower works as a metaphor masterfully, it’s not that impressive as a game mechanic. The logic of the power changes over the course of the game as well. Our heroine’s incredible sensitivity to other people’s emotions overwhelms her at times. Feeling someone’s intense hatred or anxiety cripples her as an empath. Makes sense, right?

Alex witnessing a person break down and cry
Image credit: Deck Nine

Then in another instance, someone’s overwhelming emotion does nothing. Alex isn’t even slightly fazed by this person’s soul-crushing emotions. Which takes you out of the game, although slightly. This power is meant to drive the story and act as a powerful metaphor, but it wasn’t fleshed out properly in the game as an actual mechanic.

No gut-wrenching consequences because of your actions

There were a lot of horrible moments in previous Life is Strange games. Most came from my own stupid decisions. However, the most surprising thing I learned by the end of this Life is Strange: True Colors review is that there wasn’t any looming shadow over Alex’s head thanks to my decision.

If anything, any decision you’ve made pay off once the game ends. It’s not something I expected, and some may dislike Deck Nine’s softer approach to decision-making. I’d even say there’s not much impactful decision-making at all in True Colors.

No matter who you pick to be your partner, Steph or Ryan, both are excellent choices as they’re people who are understanding and wonderful. While the death of Gabe deeply shakes Haven Springs and the story is full of emotional rollercoasters, there weren’t any moments that broke me completely. Which I love and hate at the same time.

Final Verdict – Should you buy Life is Strange: True Colors?

All in all, anyone that’s a fan of emotional games on Steam is going to love True Colors. The story takes on empathy in a mature and humane way, depicting it as something that can be something to admire and fear at the same time. The characters are well-written and superbly represented, the setting is magical, and the game won’t make you break down crying hopelessly as the previous titles did.

It’s not as hard-hitting as Life is Strange 2 was, which will either be a selling point for some or a turn-off for others. Still, Deck Nine delivered another emotionally mature and compelling story for us to enjoy with the standard focus on characters and story while mostly ignoring its own mechanics and the rules it sets for it.

Those that liked what they heard and want to buy a Life is Strange: True Colors Steam key are in luck. Keep reading to get the best deal on the latest Life is Strange title!

Our trio together
Image credit: Deck Nine

Where to buy Life is Strange: True Colors?

As always, this is another triple-A title that just recently came out. What does that mean? It means your wallet is going to take a big hit. Understandable, considering it’s an incredibly fine piece of entertainment.

But there’s no need to pay that much for it. 60 euros is nothing to laugh at in some countries. So HRK Game has a deal, as always. Let’s see which edition of the game you want to buy anyway:

Life is Strange: True Colors Standard Edition

It’s everything you need to enjoy Deck Nine’s latest emotional rollercoaster. You get a Life is Strange: True Colors Steam key for -45% off at the time of writing this! The discount can go increase or decrease over time but you’re always getting a great deal when you’re buying with HRK Game.

Life is Strange: True Colors Deluxe Edition

The Life is Strange: True Colors Deluxe Edition contains:

  • Life is Strange: True Colors: the complete game.
  • Exclusive Bonus Story: ‘Wavelengths’: play as Steph in the year before Alex came to Haven Springs, in a standalone story set in the iconic Rocky Mountain Record Traders store and KRCT radio station.
  • Exclusive Life is Strange Hero Outfit Pack: change up Alex’s look with 4 new outfits inspired by past protagonists. The pack includes clothing inspired by Chloe’s Misfit Skull, Sean’s Wolf Squad, Daniel’s Space Mission, and Max’s Jane Doe outfits, with one outfit available for Alex to wear in each chapter of the main game.

Don’t forget, if you’re looking to experience the previous Life is Strange titles, you can get them for -90% off at HRK Game today. We’re a company that’s made by gamers, for gamers. We’re always offering the best discounts so don’t forget where to look when you’re in need of a cheap PC game key!



1 Comment
  1. Danielle says

    Thanks for the complete review. It was nice to read. I really like games that leave a lot of space for social quests and relationships between characters. It’s kind of like my real life looking for a girlfriend – By the way, the main character has a very nice type)) I would not refuse to find a similar girl for a real date)

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