Life Is Strange: Before the Storm has always felt like a well-kept secret; forever playing second fiddle to the two mainline entries that released either side of it, but quietly better than them both. We have Deck Nine Games to thank for that, which now finds itself at the helm of the franchise's next big game as original creator DONTNOD Entertainment moves on to other projects. The result is Life Is Strange: True Colors, a game that both ditches the episodic roll-out of the past and feels more in line with the adventures of classic characters Max and Chloe.
It takes the series back to those small-town vibes, as friends try to kick back and enjoy themselves before a life-changing event forces a community to re-evaluate what it's known to be true all these years. Alex Chen is the latest young adult turned special power user on the scene, invited to live with her brother Gabe after eight years apart. She's only just begun settling in when he dies under suspicious circumstances.
These events trigger Alex's investigation into the company Typhon, which essentially has the entire town wrapped around its little finger. Delving any deeper would be considered spoiler territory, but what is there feels rushed. While the game does ship as a single product — eliminating the need to wait months on end for cliffhangers to be resolved — it's over inside 10 to 11 hours. That time isn't used wisely, and rather ironically, the title's at its best when it's not focusing on the main story.
The narrative presents its stakes in the first chapter, has Alex and co begin their investigation, but then sort of dilly-dallies for hours on end before hurriedly wrapping everything up with a large exposition dump at the end. It isn't particularly satisfying, and nor are the revelations designed to surprise you. Obvious plot twists are aplenty, creating an unfulfilling plot that cannot hold a candle to its predecessors.
What saves the story is its characters. Never have we wanted to be best friends with a digital creation more than protagonist Alex; the instantly likeable twentysomething carries the narrative on her back, injecting her personality, quips, and mannerisms at every turn. Flanked by returning character Steph and Gabe's brother Ryan, the trio is a joy to interact with. Bolstered by the wider cast — Jed, Ethan, and Eleanor in particular — Life Is Strange: True Colors could lay claim to having the best range of characters in the series to date.
Those closest to Alex always have something fun or touching to say, allowing the protagonist to further leave her shell and demonstrate the quirky personality hidden within. Ryan and Steph double up as the two love interests in the game, but there's so much more to the town of Haven than the characters with the most airtime. Eleanor, in particular, is an older lady with a heartbreaking story that's likely to hit close to home.
Life Is Strange: True Colors lacks that final ingredient, then. Its characters are stellar and it has the heart and spirit of the first game, but the story itself is on the opposite end of the spectrum. There's a very big mismatch here: the game's characters are world-class; the game's narrative is non-league.
Now this wouldn't be a Life Is Strange game without a new superpower, and Alex comes packing with the ability to visualise and act upon people's strongest emotions. Say someone is feeling particularly depressed about the death of Gabe: the protagonist can activate her power and interact with objects in the environment that hint at why they're feeling this way. Alex is then able to help them calm down or see sense by providing counterpoints once she understands the problem. However, the power can go one step further as Alex actually takes that burden away from them and bears the weight herself.
It's by far the most interesting implementation of the ability, providing you with the chance to heal a character's emotions, but then risk worsening Alex's headspace by having her deal with those thoughts instead. The risk-reward system can then impact Alex's reactions during some of the story's most important scenes, or provide her with extra information to help form a better response to accusations. It's just a shame one of the series' most compelling powers has been partnered with what is a fairly uninteresting plot.
However, those who love the way Life Is Strange games play won't be disappointed once you actually gain control of Alex's movements and actions. The third main instalment plays just like any other entry in the franchise, allowing you to freely explore environments and interact with objects, which Alex will always comment on. The emotion-based power can only be used on specific people and items, but it's always worth exploring those bonus opportunities. Either to unlock Trophies or explore side stories — the latter progress as you work your way through the game so it's always worth returning to NPCs.
The highlight is chapter three, where the game forgets the main story for a few hours and turns Haven into a full-on LARPing session. We won't spoil how gameplay is affected — it's worth experiencing for yourself — but rest assured it almost makes the two concluding chapters worth it. While Life Is Strange: True Colors wholeheartedly sticks to what the series is known for, its attempts to strike out and do something new are most welcomed.
What we'd rather not see make a return in future instalments, however, is the diabolical framerate. On PlayStation 5, every single outdoor scene suffers from huge framerate drops that can severely impact your overall enjoyment. It's a constant nuisance since roughly half the game takes place in the fresh air, meaning you're going to have to put up with frequent stutters and pauses. The game performs much better once you're indoors, but even then a small framerate drop is part and parcel of the experience. This one needs a post-launch patch or two to bring it up to par.
Then there are small visual glitches that aren't particularly game-breaking but are enough to make you wince a little. Texture pop-in is fairly frequent and we caught Alex in a T-pose before correctly resetting during one cutscene. Again, we expect updates after release to address these bugs.
One technical overhaul that has gone in the game's favour is its use of performance capture; a first for the series, and it really shows. Characters look so much more realistic, which goes a long way when the game's power is based around emotions that require detailed expressions to be properly conveyed. Just watch some footage of previous titles and you'll immediately notice how much of a facelift this is.
Life Is Strange: True Colors had every chance of becoming the series' best game to date, but it's been let down by arguably its most important element: the story. Wonderful character work can only go so far carrying a narrative that just isn't particularly exciting. And while Alex's power crafts one interesting scenario after another, it too isn't enough to offset those dull plot points. With an awful framerate to boot, Life Is Strange: True Colors falls short despite everything it has going for it.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to copy me in.
Its a matter of opinion about before the storm i thought it was the worst one
@trev666 Blows my mind whenever I see this.
@LiamCroft hey Liam is the platina easy or hard to get? plus the length?
@Lightning_FF13 The first game is still the best, and I think True Colors is an overall better game than 2. However, I think the story of 2 is better than True Colors.
@pimpjuice Extremely easy Platinum, you just need to find collectibles and complete the game.
You’d think the story would be the ‘easiest’ part. But LiS2 didn’t have a satisfying ending either (although I did enjoy it for the most part).
Don’t have a clue who Steph is even though I’ve played all the games 🤷♂️
Anyway, my copy of True Colours should be arriving tomorrow 😬
@get2sammyb it blows my mind that people thought before the storm was good
@trev666 Fair enough. 🤷♀️
@get2sammyb i think if the voice actors strike hadn't happened BTS wouldve been better. Theres an awful lot of robotic delivery. Also the fact its a prequel meant you already knew there couldn't be any real consequences. That being said 2 is far worse. The brothers are just the worse protagonists, one being a brat and the other getting his head kicked in at every turn.
As for this i decided to skip as the remasters of 1 and BTS were delayed and seems like I made the right call. Hopefully the framerate will be fixed vut its a shame about the story
@trev666 I'm in that camp too. I despise Before the Storm.
I'll say it again, Dontnod should've developed/written this one instead of Deck Nine.
I know that LiS 2 gets a lot of flak, but I truly enjoyed it and it tugged my heartstrings, especially the ending.
Before The Storm was just, and I mean JUST okay.
As much as it pains me to say, this one seems like a wait for a deep sale
@trev666 I also absolutely hate Before the Storm. But then I utterly despise Chloe as a character. This one seems way more up my alley.
Mature rating? Are there any titties or what? It is rated age 12 in Germany
The characters in LiS are too hip for my liking, but I do enjoy a folksy/indie soundtrack.
... if it's a 6 on PushSquare, then it's an 8 in reality! 🤣 (at least it continues to be consistent in its review inconsistency)
This game gets the same score as Bus Simulator! 🤣🤣😳
A slightly more consistent review site comment..
"Beautiful and brilliant, if a little safe, Deck Nine's new Life is Strange story stands alongside the series' best."
@LiamCroft Just curious, I know you mentioned it is a complete package but does the game unfold episodically with clear breaks between?
@nessisonett I liked Chloe...when she was paralyzed. She was more empathetic, and just seemed like a stronger character.
I would have greatly preffered Max to stay in that reality. Everyone would have benefited in the long run even Chloe.
But I agree she fricken sucks!
Didn't make it through Before the Storm. I can't stand Chloe, and the LiS looked just awful. That being said, I liked the first game; I got it for free though so...
@Reyren Yes, the game is structured like it would be if you had all five episodes from a previous game downloaded at once. There are clear chapter breaks so it's easy to know when you can take a break.
@LiamCroft Thanks for the info! I remember in the first life is strange game the chapter breaks truly aided in ratcheting up the suspense of the story. Good to know there are clear breaks.
@LiamCroft Does the game have chapter select? Or is there free roam after you've completed it.
@Snake_V5 You can't free roam after completing the game, but you can use chapter select. You can easily mop up all the collectibles using it too.
@LiamCroft Last question, is this one really the shortest of them all? Is it a long game.
Great review,shame it got a low score.I've loved EVERY Life Is Strange so far but the only reason I ordered the game Day One though was for the sweet Steelbook otherwise I would of waited for a sale after this review.
Definitely gonna wait for a patch though if it's that bad..
@Snake_V5 Yup, by far the shortest of the main games.
@LiamCroft how is the soundtrack in this one. That is always a vital component of LiS games for me!
@JapaneseSonic not at all! I love PushSquare, but their reviews of late have been shall we say "off kilter" (check out their Dark Alliance review) and arguably The Medium..
True Colours is averaging at about 8 from most review sites.. so it's not what I want it to be at all... I'll probably pick it up in a sale as I wasn't that impressed with 2 or the prologue... So I'm by no means attached to the series.. Just trying to provide some balance! 👍
@Divergent95 Glad to see someone else in the world liked LiS2! Love the game! Can’t wait for True Colors, for better or worse.
@Rob_230 It’s fine! It’s certainly a Life Is Strange soundtrack, doesn’t seem out of place compared to others. Mxmtoon does the singing for Alex, which is nice.
This series died for me after the first game. But hey, I'm willing to go back and actually try the other...what, 3 or 4 games by now?
Life is strange should always have been a one-off, a unique game that has now just been spawning inferior clones
@somnambulance It had an amazing story, but the pacing was all over the place and I think people hated not being able to control the power.
I kinda regret my previous comment about True Colors lol.
Other review sites are giving the game glowing reviews so....
@nessisonett That's fair, although Before the Storm is probably my favorite of the series. I think we might have already talked about it a bit on the forums. Anyways, I can understand Chloe a bit in the first one, but I thought she was a lot better before the storm (not a pun since it's literal here).
A shame this didn't get a better score, but maybe this one is an outlier. The framerate drops and this being the shortest of the series are a shame regardless though. Obviously I'm still going to play it as I'm a fan of the series, but this will likely wait for a sale like I have with the whole series so far. I likely would have even if this got a glowing review here though as I couldn't see myself paying $60 for it.
@Subsided You're probably right, although I can understand them doing the prequel too since there was definitely story there to be told. It was likely a much bigger success than they thought it would be, so I understand them doing more with the series though.
@LiamCroft Are there any DualSense features?
@Divergent95 I’m still a little concerned with True Colors. I thought Before the Storm was genuinely boring in places and I found the characters pretty unlikeable. Meanwhile, LiS2 had totally likable characters to me and it seemed to always be tense. Even the ending I chose felt upsetting, but I understood what happened. I felt like Before the Storm was pandering where LiS2 actively upset expectations and I respect the game a lot for it. To me, that’s Dontnod’s magnum opus. It’ll be hard to top for me
@somnambulance An excellent summary indeed!
May I ask, which ending did you get? Mine was all about Daniel unleashing his telekinetic fury to clear the way for Mexico. It felt like a DC scene lol xP
As for True Colors, with many reviews saying it's great, I've decided to buy it as soon as possible, probably in a couple of days.
Reviews are subjective.. True Colors got a 9/10 on PSLifestyle... I'll play it and see for myself.
@Divergent95 I got Shawn being arrested at the border and Daniel getting to live as a normal person. Daniel didn’t want to use his telekinesis and Shawn took the blame for everything. Shawn eventually gets out of prison, but he’s clearly broken down. It was honestly one of the saddest endings I’ve ever seen in a game, but also one of the most meaningful. That said, I was glad I waited for the whole game to be available before I played it. I think the production schedule killed any goodwill LiS2 could’ve had.
It’s in the 82- 85 range in metacritic with many reviews in the 90 - 100 range. Glad I read more than one review. This review seems off.
@trev666 It was hard to get past the terrible voice acting.
Removed - inappropriate
@Rob_230 it should be a vital component of reviews to be fair. The score and/or sound design can make or break the entire experience.
@Divergent95 Still not jumped into 2 yet! I loved the first one but Before the Storm was so bad it put me off the franchise for a while. Probably going to jump into 2 while I wait for this to turn up in a sale.
Life Is Strange True Colours could climb out of my PS5 and punch me in the kidneys and I'd probably still like it more than Life Is Strange 2. Absolute rubbish.
@BowTiesAreCool Yeah i agree with you on that. Sound is so important - particularly with Sony pushing 3d audio this gen. I'd like to see it given greater emphasis in reviews
@somnambulance That's what I said but people told me I was crazy! It took waay too long for Dontnod to release all episodes and gamers usually don't have that much patience lol. I think the sales suffered too.
@BowTiesAreCool You won't regret it! It usually goes on sale for 10-12 USD, plus Episode 1 is free!
@BowTiesAreCool I hesitated for a while because of Before the Storm too, but got the complete game for $7. Could honestly be the best value digital gaming purchase I ever made. It’s nothing like Before the Storm. Can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but it’s one of those games that I feel like I have to recommend.
@PSVR_lover Exactly, I was disappointed after seeing this review but almost every other review is praising it.
Thanks for the thorough review! I guess I'll be waiting for a $20 sale now, no longer buying day one.
@somnambulance I forgot the first episode is free, I'll give it a go in the next few days!
this will be on Gamepass at some point as all the others have been so i will play it on there
Just about to start Chapter 3 - but seeing how short it is I wouldn't recommend paying £50 for it. I would wait for a sale
@Salt_AU I know it's still a good game, but I've got a PS4 backlog alone in the 200s so I can wait.
@3MonthBeef How Long to Beat has Life Is Strange 1 at an average of 14 hours and Life Is Strange 2 at 16 hours. True Colors is much shorter than them both. I also got all collectibles and unlocked the Platinum Trophy during the time stated in the review, so I think I'm good.
@PSVR_lover @Salt_AU ... pretty standard on here I'm afraid! :/
Nearing the end of Chapter 1 and love it so far. To the point i have already purchased the upgrade to the deluxe edition with the wavelengths dlc that is coming later this month. Alex Chen is fantastic and i love Haven Springs so far.
Anyone on the fence that doesn't want to pay £50, the game is £38.85 on Base.com - the saving more than paid for the dlc
So far a return to form. LiS was one of my fave games last gen, and i also loved before the storm. Didnt really connect with the second game - mainly because of Daniel. He annoyed me so much
@LiamCroft..... My only wish Mr Liam is that you are also this brutal with Fifa and it get a 6-7 review.
Of all your reviews, you are always lenient to EA Sports in all your Fifa reviews.
I gutted that Fifa is the only footy game I will be playing going forwards since Pes has gone ape****........
But please be brutal honest with FIFA too in the next coming FIFA22 review
I fully agree with you. PUSHSQUARES reviews are as unbalanced as the people still in denial that CP77 is crap game that was released bugged and unfishined.
Fifa always reviews the same each year yet never falls below 8 in the PushSquare reviews.
They always say this every year:
has nice graphics, avarage animations, Great User Interface, Back of the box new bullet point buzz words that have nothing to do with the game play except marketing, EA spent a boat on monopolosing football lisencenses to crush the competition, the game has vanity game modes, the game has a neglected career mode...
But we like the Ultimate Team mode here at PushSquare so we will give an 8 for that......
That how the FIFA review goes each year.
But they are so nitpick on all other games.
Just wish the brutality was consistent across all reviews......
@Subsided..... Feel the same about the Soulsbourne games...... The first dark souls was a one and done game....... The formula is now been milked too much now by Fromm Software
@GREGORIAN I disagree in that regard, love Bloodborne, and every once in a while I need my fix
@GREGORIAN yeah, you can really start to see the negativity towards PS from this site especially in their Facebook posts, it's really sad actually.. you have NBA2K22 getting 8/10 when they admit it's just a vehicle for microtransactions and costs £70.... it's such inconsistent reviewing...
@Subsided...... Well I suppose some other people may also feel the same way towards the LIS series.......
@GREGORIAN probably, never said my opinion was universal, but with life is strange its trying to copy emotion impact which is much different then just having similar combat, emotional impact walks a fine line between genuine and manipulative and recycling the same concept is manipulative
@fR_eeBritney if you go to the main screen you can also access stephs story in dlc. Not sure in your country how much it costs, but seeing as you want to get to know steph more, these 4 additional chapters can do just that. Hope this helps!
Don't know if you're still wondering who Steph is, but her previous appearance was in Before the Storm. In Episode One, she's the GM for the tabletop RPG you can play in outside Blackwell, and you can run into her with Mikey and Drew later in the game.
Tap here to load 67 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...