Life is Strange: True Colors is only a week away from release, so fans are gearing up for what's sure to be an exciting ride. True Colors is shaking things up for the Life is Strange series; for the first time, the game is being developed by Deck Nine instead of Dontnot Entertainment. It also features a brand-new protagonist, Alex Chen, with her unique superpower: empathy.
There are a lot of ways True Colors is changing up the traditional Life is Strange formula apart from new characters and a new setting. Alex Chen has some notable differences from other Life is Strange protagonists, and the overall flow and feel of the game promises to stand out. Alex's power of empathy is also a change of pace; it might not sound like the coolest power ever, but some of the implications could be very powerful. True Colors holds on to the same art style and tone as the previous games, but the differences will be exciting to explore.
Life is Strange: True Colors is Not Episodic
On a logistical level, the biggest obvious difference is that unlike the first two Life is Strange games, True Colors is being released as one full game rather than episodes. This is a big break from tradition, and some have suggested that it could signal the decline of episodic games altogether.
There's nothing wrong with releasing games in shorter episodes, and it can be a great option if someone wants to try out an episode before committing to buying a full game. That said, Life is Strange was one of the most prominent series taking advantage of the episodic format, so the departure is significant.
Releasing a game all at once also changes the pacing and the feel of the experience. Watching a TV show one week at a time, for example, is very different from binge-watching something on Netflix in two days. There are clear benefits to both; spreading episodes out allows for players to reflect on the story and choices over a longer period of time, and it makes the whole thing seem a little more manageable. Life is Strange tends to deal with heavy topics, so there's a benefit to having some time to digest. On the other hand, having the whole story accessible at once is great for fans who don't want to stop the momentum.
Alex Knows About Her Powers
In the original Life is Strange, Max discovers her power to manipulate time travel while sitting in class at her high school. The game jumps right into things, but the power is completely new and Max has no idea where it came from. As a result, a major part of the story is Max and Chloe learning how her powers work and how she can use them to help herself and others. At the same time, she learns how dangerous her powers can be.
In Life is Strange 2, Daniel also discovers his telekinetic powers, and a lot of time is spent protecting him and trying to help him learn how to control it. Life is Strange: True Colors is different because, unlike Max and Daniel, Alex knows about her powers before the start of the game. It seems like she's known about them for a while.
In the opening scene of the game during Alex's foster care exit interview, Alex is asked if she's told her brother about her "issues." Alex replies that she hasn't, but she (and the player) know exactly what issues are being referred to. Alex also uses her powers early in the game to sense that her brother is afraid she won't like her new life, and she isn't the least bit shocked by her abilities.
Trailers for True Colorshint that Alex may discover a way to steal emotion from other people, protecting them from feelings of sadness or anger if she chooses. That could be a new part of her powers she hasn't used before, but from the start, Alex knows she's an empath. Unlike the first two games, there won't be a huge focus on her adjusting to the shock of suddenly having superpowers, which could change the overall tone.
Alex Chen is a Solo Act
Unlike Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2, Alex doesn't have a buddy that acts as a companion throughout the whole game. Maybe she finds a friend to keep her company, but based on trailers and released footage it doesn't seem like she has a built-in best friend. Life is Strange is about Max and Chloe, while Life is Strange 2 is about brothers Daniel and Sean. Alex looks like she's on her own.
Those core relationships are the heart of the first two Life is Strange games, and the deciding factor for many of the major decisions. If True Colors doesn't have that, that doesn't make it bad, but it does hint at a very different experience. It might end up being a huge part of Alex's story because, in theory, she should have had that core relationship in the form of her brother Gabe.
Gabe mysteriously dies toward the beginning of the game and opens up a murder mystery investigation. If Gabe didn't die, he might have been Alex's partner in crime. In some sense, the relationship between brother and sister is the core of the story, but it's more similar to how Joel and Ellie's relationship is the core of The Last of Us 2 despite Joel's passing.
Alex being alone in the world does seem like it could be a very important and powerful part of the story. She'll have to build completely new relationships, and having to constantly feel the emotions of others has to take a toll. Alex's telepathic and empathic powers will make things hard on her as she's dealing with her brother's death.
Life is Strange: True Colors will release September 10 on PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.