Coming in hot on the heels of TellTale Games’ award-winning Walking Dead game, Square Enix and developer Dontnod introduced their own narrative-driven adventure title in the form of Life is Strange. This game had a few mechanical similarities to other new adventure titles but utilized a fresh story, modern setting and soundtrack, relatable and realistic characters, great voice acting, and fantastic sense of mystery to match the best of the genre. It was a critical and commercial success, which meant sequels were all but assured.
Rather than go the traditional sequel route, the Life is Strange series split into two branches. We got a prequel series by a different developer, Deck Nine, while Dontnod made Life is Strange 2, which was in no way tied to the first, with the exception of the existence of extraordinary abilities. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the next entry in this beloved series, and we finally got our first official look at the new Life is Strange: True Colors at the Square Enix Presents event. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming narrative adventure.
With the official announcement, Square Enix also gave us a firm release date for Life is Strange: True Colors — September 10, 2021. But the important distinction to make between this game’s release and all the previous entries is that True Colors will release as one complete product. Every other Life is Strange game has had an episodic release, with five episodes coming out over the course of several months. While this game will still have an episodic structure, being broken up into chapters just like the previous games, you won’t have to wait for the next episode to release if you want to dive right into the next chapter of the story.
Thanks to the trailer, we also know that Life is Strange: True Colors will launch simultaneously on the PS5, PS4, Steam, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. That covers all the major platforms, with the only exception being the Nintendo Switch. As of now, no games in the Life is Strange series have been ported to the hybrid console despite the developers expressing that they would like to see them there. In a 2019 interview, Michael Koch, the creative director of Life is Strange 2, said: “We would love to, to be honest. And I think it’s something that needs to be decided by Square Enix, but definitely, I love playing games on my Switch so I would love to see some Life is Strange on Switch for sure.”
Considering we still haven’t seen these games make it over this long after release, it appears that Square Enix has no intention, at least at the moment, of bringing this series to Nintendo platforms.
Deck Nine, developer of the prequel series Life is Strange: Before the Storm, is helming this new entry in the series. Unlike its first game, however, this time it will be creating an entirely new story rather than using the existing world of either numbered Life is Strange game. Set in the fictional town of Haven Springs, Colorado, the story features a new main character, Alex Chen, who has moved into town to be near her brother Gabe after years of being apart. Things appear idyllic at first, but it isn’t long before her brother dies under mysterious circumstances. With a special ability to see other people’s emotions as colorful auras and hints from Gabe’s friend Ryan that Gabe’s death was no accident, Alex must try to figure out the circumstances of her brother’s death.
The colors Alex can see forming around the people of Haven Springs all corollate to whatever emotion they are currently feeling. A few examples we’ve seen are blue relating to sadness, yellow for joy, red for anger, and purple for fear. Just like Max and Daniel from Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2, respectively, Alex’s powers do come with some drawbacks. If she uses them too much, or if someone’s feelings are particularly strong, she can become overwhelmed by other people’s emotions and lose control of her own. This power also isn’t new to her like it was to past protagonists, so she has a better understanding of how it works.
In the narration, Alex also mentions that she can go as far as to understand why someone is feeling the way they are, not just what they’re feeling, if she tries hard enough. We don’t see how this will work in the game through the trailer, however.
Aside from Alex’s unique powers putting a spin on the formula, we can expect a somewhat similar experience to the other games in the franchise. There will be a new cast of characters, plus Steph returning from Life is Strange: Before the Storm, for Alex to talk to using various dialogue options that will drive the narrative and affect future choices. True Colors will also expand on how much choice the player has and how deep the changes can run, with Ryan and Steph both reported as possible romantic partners for Alex.
We expect this game to be larger than the previous games as well. Bucking the trend of the series once again, Life is Strange: True Colors will also be somewhat open world in its design rather than linear. Taking place entirely — at least as far as we know — in the town of Haven Springs, you will have more opportunities to explore optional areas and interact with characters that can also change how they, or others, feel about Alex.
The only slight multiplayer component the series ever has, which we expect to return here, is the end-of-episode comparison charts. These showed you what percentage of all players chose which options during important dialogue or events. These were always neat little statistics to see where you fell in terms of what most players did, and they incentivized replays to see what other people were experiencing. Because the game still has that episodic structure even though it is being released as a single package, this feature would still fit in very well, and we hope it makes it in once again.
Other than that, no other multiplayer component feels appropriate for such a narrative-based, single-player focused game, so leaving it at that is perfectly fine.
With the change from the former episodic structure, Life is Strange: True Colors won’t have any postgame downloadable content that we know of. No other season of the series has had any DLC beyond the promised episodes, with the possible exception of the free stand-alone Captain Spirit released prior to Life is Strange 2. But we do know that one prequel chapter — a bonus story called Wavelengths — and a few sets of cosmetic outfits that come with various versions of the game (more on that below) will be sold as DLC.
Pre-orders are live right now for Life is Strange: True Colors and come in three different tiers. As mentioned before, pre-ordering the Standard Edition of the game will get you a few cosmetics in the Alex Outfit Pack. This comes with four new outfits for Alex that all feature cat designs. This Standard Edition will cost the traditional price of $60.
For $70, you can upgrade to the Deluxe Edition that comes with the Wavelengths bonus story, where you play as Steph prior to the events of the main game. This version also has the Hero Outfit Pack, with four new clothing options that pay homage to past series protagonists. That includes Chloe’s Misfit Skull, Sean’s Wolf Squad, Daniel’s Space Mission, and Max’s Jane Doe outfits.
Finally, for $80, the Ultimate Edition includes everything you get with the Deluxe Edition plus the also-announced Remastered Collection of the original Life is Strange and Before the Storm seasons. These have been upgraded with better visuals and all new animations, but the collection does not include Life is Strange 2.
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