Life is Strange: True Colors Is The Game I Needed

Note: This article contains spoilers for Life is Strange: True Colors. While the game is heavily dependent on your choices, events in this game are described and are reflective of the choices I made. Click away now if you wish to avoid these spoilers.

I have wanted to play Life is Strange: True Colors since it was announced over a year ago. I replayed the first and second installments of the LiS franchise leading up to the release of True Colors, and I loved both of them. They aren’t perfect games, but both of them tell very engaging and dramatic stories that kept me on my toes throughout. Both games took me on an emotional rollercoaster. My excitement level for True Colors was sky-high.

However, by the time the game came out, I was in a bad place, and I couldn’t afford it. And times continued to get worse for me. This past month may honestly have been the worst of my life. My Dad and I avoided homelessness at the beginning of the month, which was a miracle. Despite that miracle, my Dad passed away in February. It was sudden and unexpected. I still don’t quite know how to articulate everything I’m feeling right now.

Last month, I was scrolling through and looking for a pick me up. I saw True Colors on sale, and I went for it. I figured it was something I could dive into and get lost in for a while. After spending most of my day playing through the game from start to finish, I can say that this game was so much more to me than a distraction or a pick me up. This game gave me a lot of things to think about, and it gave me a sense of belonging and confidence that I haven’t had. My experience with this game won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Much like previous installments of the LiS series, this game doesn’t shy away from potentially troubling subject matter. This game deals a lot with trauma and loss. The protagonist, Alex Chen, is a troubled girl who comes to live with her brother Gabe in the fictional Haven Springs, Colorado. The siblings are excited to be able to experience life for themselves in this small town, but tragedy strikes when Gabe is killed by a mining explosion gone awry. The game follows Alex and her friends Steph and Ryan as they attempt to bring to the surface the secrets of this seemingly tight-knit and innocent town.

Following along with other LiS protagonists, Alex has an ability of her own. She’s an Empath. She can read strong emotions being emitted by those around her through colorful auras. If these emotions are strong enough, she takes these emotions on as her own, and in a way, she’s controlled by them. An example of this would be in Chapter 1 when Gabe is confronted by Mac, and Mac’s anger consumes Alex, causing her to attack him when he attacks Gabe. It’s an extremely raw scene, and it makes Alex’s awkwardness and hesitation a lot more understandable.

However, as the game goes on, Alex and the player realize that Alex’s ability can be used for good. In Chapter 2, she helps Steph through her sadness over Gabe’s passing. She helps Charlotte, Gabe’s girlfriend, understand what’s bothering her son Ethan and how to help him open up more about losing his stepfather. And in one of the more powerful moments of the game, at least for me, she helps talk Ryan off the edge of a cliff. Right after she talks him off the cliff, Alex and the player see her read a positive emotion — joy — for the first time.

While the main plot of this game is the mystery behind Gabe’s death, True Colors deviates from the previous installments of the LiS franchise by focusing a lot on Alex’s character. Her search for belonging, family, and purpose is the real primary focus of this game. Alex finds her sense of belonging in this small town, though in a much different manner than she envisioned. A good amount of Chapter 5 is dedicated to stripping the character down to the core. The game forces Alex and the player to not only relive her past trauma but to confront it head-on.

We see her reliving visiting her mother on her deathbed, reliving the night her father walked out on her, reliving her being rejected by parents looking to adopt children. We see the genesis of her abilities as an Empath. Her trauma and pain have allowed her to have this empathy for those feeling similar emotions. And it was in these moments that I realized the mystery behind Gabe’s death isn’t that important to this story. Alex’s words at Gabe’s wake define this game and the message of this narrative. “He told me that home isn’t something you find, it’s something you build.”

Her relationships with Ryan and Steph are the home she’s built. The connection she’s formed with Haven Springs is part of this home. So, while she doesn’t have Gabe with her anymore, she has people she considers family, and she will always have that. She’s finally found that sense of belonging she had been searching for at the beginning of the game. And through helping those around her, she realizes that she can use her power for good. She can help people through their anger, fear, and sadness. She’s found a purpose. And what she does next, whether staying in Haven Springs or traveling the world, doesn’t take away from any of this.

I’ve written mostly about The Last of Us, which is an extremely heavy series in its own right. I have taken away positives from those games and used them in my everyday life. However, True Colors went beyond that. I feel like it was a game I needed at this point in my life. It was a story and journey I had to experience. I don’t think the storytelling in this game is TLOU quality, but it didn’t have to be. Because for me, this game is worth more than that.

After this game, I feel more confident that I’ll make it out alright. Over the last two months, I’ve been wandering around trying to figure out what I want to do, where I fit in, what am I going to do. This game made me take a step back and look around me. I realized that even though I was without my Dad, I still had people. There’s a lot of people who support me and have my back. And no matter where my life goes from here, I’ll always have that support. I’ve spent so long working to repay all that my Dad gave me, and it sucks I won’t be able to do that with him actually being here. However, I know that living my life the right way and making something of myself will make him proud.

I will always be grateful I decided to pick this game up. Maybe one day I’ll write a true review of this game, breaking down each chapter and talking about my thoughts. Right now, I just want to say thank you.

Featured Photo Credit: Square Enix

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Tristin McKinstry

Associate Editor for ClutchPoints. San Antonio Brahmas reporter for XFL News Hub. Also worked previously with The Inquisitr.