One of the more unexpected news on the computer and video gaming fronts was the reveal of Square Enix’s newest addition to their Life is Strange franchise – Life is Strange: True Colors.
Life is Strange is a series of graphic adventure games where players follow a somewhat linear tale but with multiple choices affecting the experience. Choices might have minor effects (changes in dialogue), noticeable changes (slightly different events), or significant consequences (including the ending you receive).
The LiS series are tales of teenagers facing major issues compounded by something “strange” in their life. While interactive story games aren’t for everyone, this franchise has a significant following and fandom among teenagers and adults alike, and the games have won numerous awards and recognitions.
This following is partially due to the fantastic storytelling and cast, causing players to become heavily invested. While the graphics and game engines are sometimes flawed, the imagery evokes as much emotion and depth as award-winning films.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the unique soundtracks that stick in your head and create emotional reactions even years later.
The Life is Strange franchise is not a single series but an anthology, primarily separate standalone games. They focus on their own stories with different casts, although they exist in the same universe and have a tiny bit of crossover.
Life is Strange focuses on Max, an 18-year-old who returns to a private school in her old hometown. While there, she discovers a strange new power as she rekindles her relationship with her childhood friend and is drawn into a larger, more dangerous mystery.
Life is Strange 2 concentrates on Sean, a 16-year-old who runs away from home with his 9-year-old brother after an incident. Along the way, he discovers what it’s like to be an older brother while homeless and avoiding authorities, all as he realizes just how special his sibling is.
We should warn new players that these games contain heavy themes that require content warnings. Topics and events include racism, homelessness, substance abuse, criminal acts, depression, anxiety, suicide, rape, and murder.
Now we’re ready to enter a brand new story, with a new cast, in Life is Strange True Colors.
In the third standalone story, we’re introduced to Alex Chen, as she reunites with her lost brother after years separated. The game takes place in the idyllic small town of Haven Spring, with a new cast of characters (and one familiar face for franchise fans).
The game focuses on Alex’s struggles to find a place and family and her hidden power: empathy. She can read others’ emotions, to the point of seeing the source of them, and even be infected by the feelings.
This “curse,” as she calls it, will come in handy as Alex’s world is shattered with the mysterious death of her brother. Using her abilities, she will investigate what’s really happening in the town of Haven Spring.
Like its predecessors, Life is Strange: True Colors will explore mature, heavy themes as well as champion diverse storytelling.
All the LiS series have explored sexual orientation, and LiS: TC will continue the trend. For the first time, the protagonist will be knowingly bisexual and can choose two different romantic paths.
Also, while LiS 2 told the story of a Latino-American protagonist, the main character in LiS: TC is Asian-American. The game will also explore themes of someone who’s experienced the foster care system, continuing the franchise’s focus on family.
One important difference from previous games? LiS: TC will release in its entirety, instead of as individual episodes!
As a fan of the entire series, I am very excited for this latest addition. The story, characters, and music check all the boxes as a Life is Strange entry on top of the updated graphics and game engine.
They’ve also announced the remastered versions of Life is Strange and its prequel Before the Storm, both of which will be included in the True Colors Ultimate Edition. This news will please fans (who’ve asked for this for years) and provide the perfect opportunity for new players to enter the franchise.
Life is Strange: True Colors releases on September 10, 2021 and is open for pre-orders now.