Aimlessly Going Forward

blog by Tomas Sedovic

Life is Strange 3: True Colors

video-game, review

I was quite curious where the third (or fourth) Life is Strange game would go given the differences between the first two games. The first one being a high-school drama where your protagonist has time rewind powers. The second one being a desperate trip across the US where the protagonist’s brother has the power to make a huge mess (via telekinesis and otherwise).

While I have enjoyed the second game in the series, I was delighted to see True Colors return to a fixed location in a small American town where you stay for a while and get to know people.

Alex Chen, the main protagonist overlooking a river running through the town of Haven Springs
Figure 1. Alex Chen in Haven Springs

The town is called Haven Springs and it is where Alex Chen arrives after having bounced around the foster homes to meet her long-lost brother Gabe and hopefully start a new, normal life.

Alex is introverted, clearly traumatised by her past and slow to trust. But she really wants things to work out. To start over. And things do kick off well. Gabe is awesome, so’s his girlfriend and her son. Everyone seems really nice and welcoming.

Photo of Gabe Chen suggestively standing in front of a sign saying: Danger, cougar in the area.
Figure 2. Gabe Chen: Dad, Brother, Cougar.

The arrival to Haven Springs is wonderfully done. I wasn’t sure how I’ll like Gabe, but the ease with which he managed to both move past and respect Alex’s awkwardness (which I myself felt keenly) was absolutely charming. It was the awkwardness that made me relate to Alex so strongly.

If anything, people there are too friendly, dispersing hugs, handshakes and touches left and right. The controller vibrates when someone touches Alex without her expecting it and that somehow manages to evoke the exact feeling I get when that happens to me.

Apart from the frightening and completely tone-deaf joke by the local (white) police officer (for which he actually apologises — without fully grasping the gravity of the situation though), Alex’s welcome is idyllic and this place looks like it might in fact become her home.

Alex sitting on a pier.

She has got a secret though. Alex can feel other people’s emotions. When someone’s sad, angry or scared, she feels it too. It can overwhelm her and she can lose control of herself and do things she will later regret.

But as you learn to control it, you will recognise the emotions and discover something new about the person. Later on, you’ll be able to literally see the world the way they see it and help them out. Or not.

It’s no time rewind, but it is way cooler than I expected from the game’s marketing.

Unfortunately, just like every other Life is Strange game, this one has a horrific tragedy at its core as well. As with every Life is Strange game, I think it would be able to stand on its own without it.

But its there and it drives the plot forward.

You get to investigate things with the tag-team composed of Steph Gingrich and Ryan Lucan, both potential love interests and both just delightful people to be around.

I love them both dearly but Steph especially is just absolutely delightful. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her last (in Life is Strange: Before the Storm) and I didn’t know what to expect, but she’s been the highlight of the whole game for me.

Alex balancing on a tree fallen over a chasm protected only by a harness made out of a rope.
Figure 3. I’ve never fashioned a harness out of a rope but the shape and knots all actually look like this might be the real deal. Still wouldn’t want to fall tho.

The main plot gets intertwined with a few events to brighten up the mood and show the city in a different light: the Spring Festival and a subsequent LARP organised by the aforementioned Steph who besides being a DJ and a music nerd is into all things RPG.

Especially the LARP was something I was quite apprehensive about (always suspicious of games within games and all that), but it worked great. Wasn’t too long or too over-the-top and surprisingly, it really fit the mood.

Alex looking at nothing, arms crossed.

Things are quite heavily foreshadowed here, but I’ve always missed them and only realised it in the retrospect. Reading other reviews, more observant people found them completely on the nose so who knows! True Colors may go down better better if you don’t notice things.

All my general annoyances with the previous Life is Strange games are basically not here. The UI works really well for the most part, there are no annoying puzzles and very few minigames (one you can skip and another one is the combat part of the LARP and not actually that bad).

In-game option allowing you to skip a difficult section that requires quick reflexes.
Figure 4. YES PLEASE. Thank you!

While the story design and writing overall might not have changed significantly, in terms of the actual experience of playing the game, every new one gets better. There are fewer and fewer frustrations, allowing greater focus on what matters: exploring the area, talking to people and enjoying the story.

I loved spending time in Haven Springs and with everyone who lived there. The game is absolutely beautiful and the town full of character.

Alex sitting in an armchair listening to music in the record store.
Figure 5. Sitting around is still fun here too.

I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. More than Life is Strange 2 (though I respect what they tried to do there). True Colors might be on par with Tell Me Why, but Max & Chloe will always have a real soft spot in my heart.

Screenshot and link to the website for the Dose Response game

Hi! I wrote a game! It's an open-world roguelike where you play an addict called Dose Response. You can get it on the game's website (pay what you want!), it's cross-platform, works in the browser and it's open source! If you give it a go, let me know how you liked it, please!