Life is Unusual: True Colours has saved me extra emotionally invested than any Life is Unusual story since I performed the unique again in 2015. Whereas each sport on this journey collection is sweet in its personal manner, this one (from developer Deck 9 versus the collection’ creators at Dontnod) addresses many constant points which have plagued the final three video games. It proves to be the very best within the collection because of constant writing for each principal and facet characters, a compelling thriller story with good pacing, helpful supernatural talents, and maybe most significantly, dialogue selections that supply extra depth and complexity with massive and most small selections that really influence the story in significant methods all through the course of 5 chapters.
When you can actually play every chapter in bits and items, they’re all obtainable instantly so you may binge its 14 hours of story in a single sitting with no ready. Each episode has good pacing, a transparent aim, and loads of suspense. Earlier than penning this evaluation, I performed by means of True Colours a number of instances and located no definitive solution to expertise the story. There’s a notable distinction from earlier episodes in that there isn’t a recap of the earlier chapter when beginning a brand new one or a teaser for the subsequent after finishing one, however in its protection, True Colours does not likely want it.
You play as Alex Chen, a younger girl with a troubled childhood who involves the fictional mining city of Haven Springs, Colorado to reside together with her brother Gabe. After a mysterious accident, Alex makes use of her supernatural empathic talents to carry the city’s secrets and techniques to the floor. Personally, I want that the trailers hadn’t spoiled the character of the central thriller for me, so should you haven’t watched them but, don’t – I urge you to go in blind.
Haven Springs is gorgeous because of its scenic Colorado views. From the snowy mountains within the far background to the wood bridge that separates the bus cease from the primary avenue full of colourful flowers and a river stream, that is arguably the very best setting in any Life is Unusual sport to this point and a compelling and efficient tourism advert for Colorado.
It is a small mountain city, and in typical small-town vogue, everybody is aware of their neighbors and their group is tight-knit. It comes throughout loud and clear that the residents genuinely care about one another. A few of this perception comes from Alex’s cellphone, which shares particulars of her relationships together with her buddies with some textual content messages (the content material of which varies relying in your in-game selections). Alex may take a look at MyBlock, a Nextdoor-like social media platform the place the townsfolk share native updates, Easter eggs, and native banter; a few of that are pay-offs because of the alternatives Alex made round these characters. There’s even a second through which all the city partakes in a LARP to cheer up a grieving child. Seeing the townsfolk costume up in costumes in areas just like the city’s bar was by far my favourite second of all the story. There’s even a light-weight RPG component in that specific chapter that helps make all the part much more enjoyable to interact in.
The individuals of Haven Springs even have quite a lot of life to them, which made me really feel extra emotionally invested in the neighborhood. Earlier Life is Unusual video games have struggled with constantly giving NPCs compelling backstories and lots of of them had been failed by poor writing. Alyssa Anderson within the unique Life is Unusual, Evan Harris in Earlier than the Storm, Hank Stamper within the first episode of Life is Unusual 2 all had an absence of depth that made them come off as stereotypes. However in True Colours, I can’t identify anyone who felt underserved.
A whole lot of that comes from the superb manner through which you work together with them, which is enhanced by a supernatural phenomenon. Like Max Caufield within the unique Life is Unusual, Alex has an unexplained superpower: she will be able to understand robust feelings by means of colourful auras that define individuals round her. It might not be as spectacular as turning again time, nevertheless it does transcend simply “studying” individuals: if an individual’s emotions are robust sufficient, Alex may even start to truly really feel these feelings herself. It’s virtually like an out-of-body expertise the place she walks a mile of their footwear.
In some circumstances, each scripted and unscripted, Alex can work together with objects that include recollections (principally audio logs) that share a bit extra about sure characters. I discovered this to be a pleasant add-on to Alex’s already strong empathic powers; not solely can it assist with dialogue selections massive and small, it helps so as to add extra perspective to Haven Springs’ residents. In a single occasion after exploring the flower store, I discovered a t-shirt reminiscence that defined how Riley Lethe met her on-and-off-again boyfriend Mac Louden at a bot-fighting competitors she participated in. And should you determine to go off the overwhelmed path, you’ll be rewarded with a further backstory for sure characters that Alex will write in her journal. Her journal feels very very similar to her and affords perception into the character you’re taking part in as – generally she’s going to write new lyrics or share in depth element on when she engages in one other’s robust feelings; you may even playback the non-obligatory recollections you discover.
Considered one of my favourite points of Deck 9’s dealing with of Life is Unusual’s story-driven format is that, not like earlier video games on this collection, there are such a lot of selections – no matter dimension – that influence Alex’s journey and future. One instance of True Colours maintains all through the story includes a facet plot with Eleanor Lethe who early on within the sport you discover out she is having well being points, specifically, she is affected by reminiscence loss. However nobody on the town, not even Riley, who sees Eleanor is a cloth determine is aware of of her sickness. At one level late within the story simply as Riley is about to go away for faculty, you may inform her about Eleanor’s situation, however having earlier conversations with each will go away you with the selection of whether or not to be sincere and inform Riley the reality and danger violating Eleanor’s belief or maintain the key and permit Riley to go away to highschool. These penalties and reactions really feel actual and constant because of the detailed facial animations and applicable physique language of NPCs. Certain, a few of these reactions are emphasised and spelled out when an aura seems, however even with out the aura I all the time had a superb understanding of how a personality was feeling after Alex interacted with them.
Due to the elevated emphasis on the implications of our actions, there have been many instances once I made a alternative and needed to second-guess whether or not that was what I needed to do. No different Life is Unusual sport has made me reload a checkpoint save simply to see a cutscene play out in another way. There have been instances in earlier video games once I felt the writers would have dialogue choices, you might have a number of choices for a dialogue alternative that’s per the general protagonist, however an alternative choice felt “compelled” or misplaced. However Deck 9’s very good writing affords a number of dialogue choices that every one really feel like one thing Alex would say and stay constant together with her persona.
By the point you get to Chapter 5, the results of a lot of the selections you’ve made will play out in a method or one other. It was a stunning shock to see simply what number of selections I made in earlier episodes metamorphosed into my very own personal-feeling model of Chapter 5. Life is Unusual has all the time been a collection with excessive replayability, however this stage of element and variation in scenes makes True Colours much more rewarding for me to replay many times.
Just like the earlier installments, Life is Unusual: True Colours has a number of endings that may consequence from the alternatives you make, none of which is a canonically “true ending.” Whereas I initially thought I had a good suggestion of how the story would go, Deck 9 managed to maintain me guessing – and by the point the plot twist got here I used to be left in disbelief, desirous to see how the ultimate elements would play out. But every ending – and their variations – all felt pure to Alex, and he or she remained true to the character of somebody who’s comfortable and longing for the longer term that lay forward.
I additionally beloved that even when Alex solves the primary thriller, there are nonetheless loads of secrets and techniques for her to find round Haven Springs. The seeds of those facet tales are planted by means of intelligent foreshadowing and hints for the curious amongst us, and their revelations all the time felt rewarding to me. There are even non-obligatory tales that occur in every episode the place Alex can use her talents to assist individuals, reminiscent of serving to a person guess what number of jelly beans are in a jar so he can win the $100 present card to take his mother out to a pleasant meal, boosting a runner’s vanity, or serving to pair up a few buddies with a mutual attraction to 1 one other however had been too scared to make a transfer. Even among the many core forged of characters, in my first few playthroughs, there was all the time one thing new I may study them that allowed me the chance to type a greater bond with them.
Deck 9 additionally far outshines Dontnod within the romance division, with two robust choices that Alex can pursue in Ryan and Steph. In earlier Life is Unusual video games, particularly Dontnod’s (Life is Unusual 1 & 2), you had the choice to romance both a male or feminine character and select the protagonist’s sexuality, however I discovered these video games to have lackluster choices. Sure, that call is a small piece of a a lot bigger puzzle, however once I look again at them, Dontod’s poor writing all the time provided a powerful bias in direction of one potential associate over the opposite.
By comparability, Deck 9 affords an equal taking part in subject to each Ryan and Steph, and once I performed the primary 4 chapters for the primary time I used to be uncertain who I needed Alex to be with – or whether or not to decide on certainly one of them in any respect because you’re given the power to opt-out of romance altogether. Each characters have their execs and cons and it’s fairly clear Deck 9 is inserting the ball in your courtroom, and neither appears like they’re getting the quick finish of the stick.