Life is Strange: True Colors is the third installment of the popular adventure game series Life is Strange. In these games the player explores the environment freely, interacting with the other characters and solving puzzles. That means they have tons of dialogues, which was kind of annoying for me at first, since I was not familiar with the previous parts of the series. Only when the story went further and further, I realised how good True Colors are.
Life is Strange: True Colors is half the story, half the music.
The main character is a young woman named Alex, raised in a foster care facilities. One day she gets contacted by her older brother who invites her to a small town in the mountains where he lives. When Alex arrives to the town she feels a bit confused but happy to reunite with her brother after so many years, and is ready to start a new life. She tries to be friendly to the community, even if she is very sensitive, has problems with aggressive behaviour and also has a special power – she can read people’s emotions.
The game is all about empathy, society rejection, emotional problems. Alex’s abilities allow her to help people she meets by reading their thoughts and emotions, and she seems being forced to do this somehow – later the plot explains why. After the quite slow beginning, the story offers many well written and surprising plot twists and narrative tricks. Life is Strange: True Colors tells us a lot about loss and grief, mental illness, domestic violence and the lack of acceptance. But it also tells a lot about friendship.
The town of Haven Springs is a small community, where everyone knows each other. This makes the inhabitants be friendly and close, or at least pretend to be. They meet at the local bar where they listen to the music, drink, play dart, pool and arcade games, they talk. They organise the annual Spring Festival and other events, they have their local radio station hosted by the charismatic female DJ Steph, who provides music for them. Life is Strange: True Colors is half the story, half the music.
The story offers many well written and surprising plot twists.
The game has no standard soundtrack, the music referred to as score are quite simple songs composed by brother and sister Angus and Julia Stone. The songs though simple are very good indie pop based on acoustic guitars and vocals, which perfectly correspond with the protagonist’s feelings. The composing duo meant to refer to empathy and did well, since Alex is a very sensitive person, and the songs portray her actual state of mind. The songs are soothing yet make you feel sad somehow.
There is a lot of diegetic music you can find in the game. The records Steph plays, the jukebox at the bar, the turntable at your apartment. Music is important in Life is Strange: True Colors. Alex loves to play the guitar and sing, hence the absolutely stunning version of Radiohead’s Creep she performs at her apartment. The music played by Steph at the annual festival is also ear catching, like Lately by Metronomy, with the cool Roland D-50 synth theme. That means the licensed music plays as the equivalent role as the score. The breathtaking moments are while Alex is having the so-called zen moments, in which she simply relaxes by sitting at dedicated places listening to the music. The most beautiful track for me is the one being played in the game menu and end credits – Haven by Novo Amor, with the gentle guitar, vocals and strings, written specially for this game. On the other hand there is a catchy, dynamic song written by Cyrus Reynolds and Bellsaint titled When You Call.
The music accompanying us at some key scenes of the game, like the scene in the sculptor’s studio, are electronic and guitar ambiences which fit these parts of the game really well and build the tension of the story. They convey the emotions of the characters and make the player feel touched and even close to tears in some moments. Yes I am pretty sure people cry while playing and experiencing Alex’s adventures.
Music is important in Life is Strange: True Colors.
Life is Strange: True Colors would not be the same without the music, as the tracks are the integral part of the game. People who watch the gameplay videos of the youtubers playing with the soundtrack off miss a lot. This production is based on the music, the characters enjoy listening to it and playing it, it is also a great homage to vinyl records in these times of digital streaming. The nostalgic and accurate moment comes when Alex comes back to her childhood memories, when she listens to the vinyl single of the song Thank You by Dido, the hit from the late 90s.
Life is Strange: True Colors is a game filled with soothing, uplifting or reflexive pop-rock songs which are really pleasurable to listen to. I found myself stopping and listening to them during playthrough and I think many gamers are doing the same. The story of empathy, loneliness and sensitivity is beautifully and accurately portrayed with these tracks and I hope both the game and its soundtrack will be found helpful for the people with the same issues the main character experiences.