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Best Adventure Game Of 2021: Life Is Strange: True Colors

I don’t cry easily. That isn’t a brag; I just know that I’m built in such a way that I often feel disconnected from my emotions. In other words, it takes a powerfully constructed piece of storytelling to crack through my emotional outer bark. Life is Strange: True Colors is that kind of storytelling. Deck Nine’s affective adventure game didn’t just punch through my hard outer shell. It sliced through me like a hot iron.

True Colors isn’t an action-packed thrill ride, but its narrative is incredibly engrossing and hard to put down nonetheless. From the jump, players meet Alex Chen, a young woman re-entering society after a stint in a foster care center. As the game opens, Alex arrives in the small mountain town of Haven Springs, Colorado, to live with her brother. However, after Alex and her friends get caught in a mining demolition explosion, Alex is thrust into a larger corporate coverup that tears apart the lives of nearly everyone in town.

True Color’s story is well-told, and I loved getting to know the many residents of Haven Springs. Like previous Life is Strange games, True Colors is split into five chapters, and each one ends in a surprising cliffhanger that had me eager to see where the story went next. I kept thinking that the narrative had peaked, but True Colors is one of the rare games that only continues to get better the more you play. This is all helped along by an incredible voice cast; Erika Mori, in particular, brings a lot to the role and helps make Alex a believable protagonist who you deeply care for by the end of the game.

If you’re already familiar with the Life is Strange franchise, then you know this series has a hint of urban fantasy, and each new protagonist has their own superpower. As such, Alex can see and experience the emotions of others. Admittedly this doesn’t sound as rad as the ability to control time (as seen in the original Life is Strange) or even telekinesis (Life is Strange 2), still, developer Deck Nine does a phenomenal job thinking through the ramifications of this kind of talent. At points, Alex can manipulate other characters’ emotions, but doing so has significant consequences and shouldn’t be done lightly. At other times, Alex can use her powers to help others. I especially enjoyed watching her get into the mind of an older resident whose memory was beginning to fail. In another memorable sequence, Alex participates in a LARP and helps brighten the spirits of an emotionally raw young boy.

However, True Colors isn’t just a game for Life is Strange fans. I’m the perfect example of that. I appreciated the first Life is Strange, but I haven’t touched the rest of the series. After finishing True Colors, however, I’m itching to dive into my back catalog and explore the rest of the franchise. Do yourself a favor and do the same. | Our Review

Runners-Up

Before Your Eyes – This emotionally fraught journey explores the life of the recently deceased Benjamin Brynn as he enters the afterlife. However, the big technological twist is how Skybound Games uses your webcam and eye-tracking software to move that story forward. | Our Review

The Forgotten City – What started as a mod for Skyrim grew into a clever standalone experience about an underground city full of inhabitants from the Roman Empire. Your job is to interrogate everyone in town and determine why the “gods” keep turning everyone into gold statues. | Our Review

Sable – Shedworks’s open-world journey plays like a love letter to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You are a young woman who ventures into the desert to help people and choose an identity-defining mask during her rite-of-passage journey. | Our Review

Life is Strange: True Colors

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