The Life Is Strange series is one that helped solidify episodic storytelling in games as a genre which is why it was a little curious when Life Is Strange: True Colors was released with all of its episodes available at once for players to binge their way through in just a few play sessions. Although episodic gaming has certainly seen a decline in popularity, many fans thought that Life Is Strange might continue with the structure as its cliffhangers and wait times were so integral to the experience of the first games.
Now that Life Is Strange: True Colors is out, fans are happy that they won't have to wait for more episodes to release as it turns out ditching the episodic formula was helpful overall to the game. While it still has five episodes/chapters that are very clearly broken up and defined like in previous entries in the series, True Colors is a much better game because it was able to step away from its episodic storytelling and embrace being experienced all at once and not over the course of an entire year.
Ditching the Long Waits Between Episodes
Fans of episodic games have had to learn how to be patient as the wait time between episodes is often months on end. While some people might enjoy the fact that they're forced to enjoy only an hour or two of a game spread over the course of a year as to not finish it too quickly, that structure sometimes becomes a hindrance as it can lead to fans forgetting what happened in previous episodes before the next one comes out. Because True Colors opted out of this sort of storytelling, it allows the game to keep a steady pace and not have to worry about recapping things, instead, each episode usually gets straight into the action of the story.
Previous Life Is Strange games, and other episodic games for that matter, sometimes ended an episode on a cliffhanger forcing players to wait months to find out what happens next. While that can be an effective way for a game to leave a lasting impression for the time in between episodes, Deck Nine's recent release doesn't necessarily need to lean on that style of story too hard. Yes, there are some cliffhanger endings in the game, but the initial cliffhanger of Life is Strange: True Colors serves as a hook for players to keep going and see what comes next not as a way to shock players into remembering what just happened while they wait months for the next chapter.
Helping the Player Understand Pacing
All too often, a game's story feels like it's finally wrapping up nicely only to have a complete curveball thrown in the direction of the player that continues the game for an additional few hours. This usually makes the game feel poorly paced and throws the emotional balance off of the story. Because players can see right from the start that Life Is Strange: True Colors has five episodes all of which are of relatively equal lengths.
This means that players are able to understand where they are in the story and not have to worry about unforeseen last-minute twists or surprise final acts. With the rise of streaming content over the last few years, True Colors feels closer to a Netflix series than a show on cable as it can be binged all at once if a player chooses, allowing them to set their own pace for experiencing the story. The game keeps its discrete episodes to serve as act markers and suggested stop points, but ultimately benefits as it also allows players to follow the story more easily than previous Life is Strange installments.
Life Is Strange: True Colors is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.