Life is Strange: True Colors review Nintendo Switch Deck Nine Games Square Enix

It’s hard to argue that the Life is Strange franchise doesn’t rank among the most emotionally impactful in gaming. The series not only often deals with heavy topics, but does so while crafting an engaging world and a realistic cast of characters. In my time playing Life is Strange: True Colors for review on Nintendo Switch, I found that despite a number of departures from the prior games, the essential elements were still there, providing what might possibly be my overall favorite Life is Strange experience to date.

An enjoyable yet predictable story

Life is Strange: True Colors review Nintendo Switch Deck Nine Games Square Enix

Life is Strange: True Colors follows a young woman named Alex Chen as she moves to the mining town of Haven Springs, Colorado to reunite with her long lost brother Gabe. After spending her teenage years in and out of an orphanage and mental health treatment facilities, Alex is ready to finally settle down and start a new life with Gabe and his new family. However, Gabe is then tragically killed under mysterious circumstances. Now, finding herself in a new place with only the caring support of the townsfolk, Alex decides to get to the truth behind Gabe’s death.

Of course, there is no Life is Strange without some sort of supernatural power. This time around, the game takes a more realistic turn and gives Alex the power of empathy, albeit with a twist. When a person is feeling strong emotions, or when they’re attached to a particular object, Alex can see a colored aura around them, allowing her to tap into the root of those emotions. She can then use that information to try to cool those emotions down, take them away, or, in extreme cases, see the world from the perspective of the affected person. This power must be used cautiously though, as internalizing those emotions can cause Alex to lash out if left unchecked.

Life is Strange: True Colors review Nintendo Switch Deck Nine Games Square Enix

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the 10-hour story in Life is Strange: True Colors, it does wind up being fairly predictable. For the most part, I had things figured out towards the end of Chapter 2 (of 5). The bigger issue though is that there weren’t many moments that I feel had a significant emotional impact. It feels more like a murder mystery story than anything else. Outside of the big spark that kicked off the game’s events, there never felt like there was any sort of major threat looming ahead.

For example, the original Life is Strange had a mystery element as well, but there was also an ever-looming threat on the horizon that just got more intense as you progressed through. True Colors does have something to take the place of that, but it pales in comparison to things we’ve already seen the franchise do. Even the ending you pick has no real bearing on the game’s central plot, unlike with how intertwined everything felt in the original game.

Haven Springs is the star

What most stands out about Life is Strange: True Colors is the setting of Haven Springs, largely brought to life by the vibrant cast of characters who live there. Everyone in town has a unique blend of personalities and backstories, and interacting with them will reveal that they’re each going through their own problems. From Alzheimer’s to abusive relationships and beyond, these are all very real problems, and True Colors really encourages you to make them part of your story as well. Of course, a great cast of voice actors helps as well, and everyone here plays their part beautifully, especially Erika Mori as Alex. Because of these elements, Haven Springs winds up reminding me of a lot of small towns I’ve visited in real life, and I suppose there’s no better compliment I can give there.

Rewarding exploration and so-so presentation

Life is Strange: True Colors is a fairly typical adventure game on Switch, meaning their isn’t much to worry about mechanically. Your time will mostly be spent walking around town, interacting with people and items to progress the story. While many of these aren’t essential to progressing the plot, they serve the larger purpose of engrossing yourself in the world of True Colors. I highly suggest taking time to explore and find these optional aspects, or else you miss out on a large part of what makes Life is Strange so special.

Meanwhile, the major events almost always take place in cutscenes. Often, you’ll have to make dialogue choices, which may slightly impact some elements of the plot. A few times per chapter, things will pause and you’ll be given two different options. These are considered to be important choices and have a much greater impact on elements of the story. These decisions can alter anything from people’s opinion of you to their appearance in later scenes, so you must think carefully before you choose. For the streamers out there, there’s also a Crowd Choice mode, which will allow your audience to either suggest or outright choose lines of dialogue and major choices to help bring the experience to life even further for your community.

Unfortunately, I think the weakest part of Life is Strange: True Colors on Switch is its graphics. Life is Strange isn’t really known for being technically demanding, but even so, the Switch version could fare a bit better. Environmentally speaking, Haven Springs looks colorful and vibrant, but the characters are a bit hit and miss. Some characters, like Alex, look really nice, while others don’t quite live up to that standard. Furthermore, on numerous occasions, some of the movement, especially around mouths, looks a bit stiff.

Life is Strange: True Colors review Nintendo Switch Deck Nine Games Square Enix

I also observed the occasional graphics glitching. Less severe and frequent were the times when characters or background elements would pop through others, such as a shoulder coming through a wall. The one that really annoyed me though was when I played in docked mode. I only played through Chapters 1 and 5 docked, but for the vast majority of those chapters, there was a thin black line with sporadic white pixels underneath the game. If you look for it, you might be able to notice this in the screenshot above. I haven’t experienced this with any other game before or after True Colors, and I never saw it in handheld mode. It’s a minor thing, but it was definitely a decent distraction.

Lastly, Life is Strange: True Colors has a nice suite of accessibility options. Options include being able to alter text fonts, throwing on darker backgrounds for subtitles for extra visibility, making the controls a little easier, and applying a color filter. But you can also turn on alerts before intense audio/visual segments, skipping segments that might require quick reflexes, or lengthen the amount of time needed to make choices. Life is Strange has always been a series where inclusion has been a central theme, so it’s nice to see these options thrown in, especially with accessibility continuing to be a hot topic in the gaming industry.

Life is Strange: True Colors is good-strange on Switch

Life is Strange: True Colors review Nintendo Switch Deck Nine Games Square Enix

Ultimately, while Life is Strange: True Colors may have a weaker story than past entries had, its strongest elements may outshine anything I’ve played in the prior games. I’m particularly fond of Alex as a character and even more so of the idea of empathy as the core mechanic, since empathy is something we can all utilize in our daily lives. Regardless of whether this is my favorite Life is Strange or not though, True Colors was an absolute blast of an experience to play though, and I would absolutely recommend it.

Release Date: December 7, 2021
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: Adventure
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Deck Nine Games

A Nintendo Switch review code for Life is Strange: True Colors was provided by the publisher.

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Life is Strange: True Colors

8

While Life is Strange: True Colors may have a weaker story than past entries had, the rest of the game is strong enough to make it potentially the overall best entry in the franchise. Alex is a memorable character, and empathy makes for an effective gameplay mechanic. The graphics and performance could be a bit better on Switch though.

Pros
  • Alex is one of the franchise's best characters
  • Empathy as a power is a neat idea
Cons
  • Predictable, less-impactful story
  • Character models seem to vary a bit in quality; some tight movement
  • A few graphical glitches
Steven Rollins
Steven has been involved in video game reporting for over five years now. In his spare time, he can be found speedrunning, writing fanfiction, or watching as much anime as he possibly can.

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