So this is always been a series I wanted to check out. I liked Tell Me Why when I reviewed it last year and, although I may not have played any of the previous Life is Strange games, I was excited to give this one a look.
So, if it wasn’t obvious, True Colors plays as a third-person graphic adventure. You walk around this town, talk with its citizens, and interact with a bunch of different objects – most of which are not related to the story, but provide some nice detail to the game world. This is something the game does well, sprinkling about these objects, letters, pictures, and such that all work to further your understanding of the environment our protagonist finds herself in.
The protagonist – Alex Chen – has recently moved from Portland all the way to Haven Springs, a mining town right in the middle of Colorado. It’s quite the shift and again, this is something the game does well. The town is this small little thing, but the buildings, the environment, the people – they all really sell the setting and it was very cool to see them change over the course of the story. Even characters that have no real role in that story have something to add to it.
For example, at the start of the game, there is an unoccupied building with a realtor out front working to sell it. As the story progresses, you’ll notice a man interacting with this realtor, purchasing the building, and by the end of it – inviting the rest of the town in for his restaurant’s grand opening. This little mini story arc is told almost entirely through background dialogue you hear simply by walking by, and this is just one example of many.
So yeah, the game’s got the setting on lock – but of course, the main attraction here is, well, the main story, and that is again something it does pretty well. It starts off with the protagonist adjusting to her new environment and then quickly becomes this bigger thing: a mystery with a touch of corporate conspiracy, romance, and wrapped up in this larger coming-of-age theme.
I don’t want to get into spoilers, but I will say – I liked how grounded the story felt. It doesn’t go overboard, doesn’t add a bunch of unnecessary layers – it just sticks with its simple premise and builds on it little by little with some very well-balanced pacing and just enough suspense to keep you interested. Of course, how satisfied you are with the ending will depend entirely on what ending you get – there are six total – but it really isn’t that hard to get one of the good ones, the game kinda guides you along a path in a way.
I have mixed feelings on this aspect. I enjoy games where choices matter, but a lot of them tend to feel on-rails and I had that same feeling with True Colors. There were a lot of situations where I was presented with a choice and the buildup before it so obviously favored one of them that you kinda have to go out of your way to go against what the game wants you to do. And even if you do stray from that path, the ultimate result is not all that different – usually just a simple variation.
Still, that doesn’t make the main story any less interesting and a large reason why are the characters that drive it. Not just the protagonist (who is nicely written in her own right), but the side characters too. The two romance interests, the local bar owner, the elderly flower shop lady – it’s a nice, closely knit community and the game spends a good amount of time letting you get to know each of these characters. Of course, some more than others, but the overall character development is fine for a story of this scale and length – it takes around 8-10 hours to clear one playthrough.
Also worth noting is the dialogue, because yes, it can definitely be a bit cheesy and even outright cringy at times. Some of this can be explained by the age of the characters partaking in it, but some of it felt like an adult writing what he/she THINKS young adults talk like, rather than how they actually do. I had the same issue with Tell Me Why, so I can’t say this was unexpected – you gotta have a bit of tolerance for such dialogue if you want to make it through a game like this.
And yeah, that pretty much sums up the story. It’s not perfect, but the overall package is good and the light gameplay elements tying it together are a nice touch too (although don’t expect too much in that department if you are unfamiliar with this genre).
Graphically, I would say the game is just okay. It doesn’t really have that “next-gen” look, but it’s not entirely bad either, it just looks like it was designed for the last gen and ported over. The selection of music though is way better. Some great variety there and the studio did a good job weaving these tracks into the story, both as background tunes and as a way to develop a character or move the plot forward (music is an important aspect of a few of the characters here).
On the performance side of things, the game is mostly fine. It’s a bit more demanding than what I would expect given the graphics, but I was able to run it at 1440p and around 60-80 fps on high settings on my GTX 1070 Ti. It did dip below 60 occasionally, but never enough to warrant changing any of the settings even lower. I did not run into any major bugs, but I did have one outright crash towards the end of the game. It auto-saves often enough that I only lost about 10 minutes of progress, but any crash is a crash worth mentioning.
Life is Strange: True Colors offers up a tightly written mystery story with likeable characters and some solid music to back. It may be a bit cheesy and melodramatic at times, but it’s a lot of fun in spite of that and I really liked the small mining town setting. An easy recommendation if you like story-driven games like this.
Quote: True Colors offers up a tightly written mystery story with likeable characters and some solid music to back. It may be a bit cheesy and melodramatic at times, but it’s a lot of fun in spite of that.
Life is Strange: True Colors retails for $60 USD on Steam, but you can support the channel and get an official Steam key using my Green Man Gaming partner link – you can even get it cheaper than retail if you are an XP member. This also applies to the Deluxe and Ultimate versions. The game is also available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch, and Stadia.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.