During the Square Enix Presents on Sunday, Deck Nine and Square Enix showcased a little bit more of the third instalment in the Life is Strange series: Life is Strange: True Colours . The Life is Strange series prides itself on taking the somewhat oversaturated plot device of superpowers and the supernatural and turning it on its head by avoiding the grandiose and focusing on simple, human stories whilst still maintaining an essence of mystery and wonder. Life is Strange: True Colours protagonist Alex Chen will join the ranks of super powered characters Max Caulfield- from Life is Strange– and Daniel Diaz- from Life is Strange 2, though Alex’s powers are quite different which is sure to have an effect on all aspects of the game. Let’s take a look at Alex’s abilities in comparison to Max and Daniel to see how it might change the Life is Strange series.
All Images Courtesy of Square Enix, DONTNOD Entertainment and Deck Nine.
Max’s Time Travel
In the first Life is Strange game, Max had a power that many of us have wished that we could have before: the power to reverse time. This leads to tons of interesting outcomes as you have the ability to see what would happen if you had chosen a different path, allows you to see things you might not have spotted the first time around and even lets you stop time entirely in some segments. In terms of gameplay, it does make for an interesting feature. I am someone who- if I feel like I have made the wrong decision in a game- will go back to my last save and try again rather than actually have to face the consequences of my actions. Why would you do that in a video game when you have to do it constantly in real life?? When I first played Life is Strange, I remember really enjoying the fact that I could rewind to see how the other outcome would play out without having to retrace my steps over and over or watch through YouTube videos to see the alternate outcome. Time rewinding was not only a huge part of the narrative but also a massive gameplay element where the player had a chance to experiment with different dialogues and experience these choices without majorly backtracking. Max’s powers were a lot of fun to play around with but there were consequences to the narrative that you are forced to play through once a choice is set. There are also devastating consequences to certain actions in the game, which thankfully aren’t permanent but they squeeze your heart nonetheless. The time travel abilities from the first game have a direct impact on both the narrative and the gameplay in an interesting and unique way, which was a great way to kick off the Life is Strange series.
In Life is Strange 2, you don’t actually play as the character with special abilities (ten year old Daniel Diaz). Instead, you play as his sixteen year old brother Sean. As Sean, you not only guide Daniel as an elder brother would but you also mould him according to how you think he should use his abilities. The ways that he uses his powers will change depending on your decisions and your teaching. Daniel’s powers can be a backdrop to the story if you warn him against using them or they can become stronger and more volatile if you alternatively encourage him. There are several endings to the second game- in contrast to the two endings from the first game- which differ depending not only on the player’s choices as Sean but also on what lessons you taught Daniel along the way. As well as these effects on the narrative, Daniel’s powers meld with the gameplay in order to solve puzzles and make progress. His telekinesis is imperative to both the story and gameplay- much like Max’s time rewinding abilities- but exactly how much Daniel uses his powers changes the story significantly. It is a more concrete skill than Max’s ability- you can’t keep going back and forth and changing your decisions- but the game surely emphasises the importance of maintaining the link between the characters special powers and the story of the Life is Strange series.
Alex’s Empath Powers
So how does True Colours’s Alex Chen fit in with Max and Daniel? Well at a first glance, she doesn’t. Her powers are very different in that she is an empath. An empath is a person with the psychic power over human emotion. The general definition of an empath is someone who can sense the emotions of other, though Alex goes a step further with her powers in that she can manipulate particularly strong emotions and create “novas” wherein her surroundings become the embodiment of that potent feeling. During the Sqaure Enix Presents event at E3, Zak Garriss- game director for True Colours– notes that Alex’s powers are “integral to the story of Life is Strange: True Colours” which links back to this connection between narrative, gameplay and a particular supernatural ability that all the Life is Strange main series games have (even the prequel game Before the Storm had elements of it, with it being suggested that Rachel Amber had some kind of supernatural ability). The game mixes up the formula with Alex by giving us a character with a power that revolves entirely around the human psyche and the connotations of this are fascinating. The nature of being able to feel everything from everyone all of the time is an overwhelming prospect and the footage from the E3 presentation suggests that this could happen if you aren’t careful with Alex’s abilities. You also get the chance to make decisions regarding altering people’s emotions, which is sure to have some hefty consequences attached no matter what you choose.
Empath powers may not be what some consider as exciting as time manipulation or telekinesis, but there is a wealth of story and gameplay options available with these kinds of powers. There is more of an opportunity to delve into the human element of the game by allowing the player to see auras, venture into others emotions and change them as you see fit. This is why Life is Strange: True Colours is looking particularly promising as it seems to be offering a fresh take on the formula that the Life is Strange series has established as a franchise whilst maintaining the elements that make the series so popular. For more on Life is Strange: True Colours, check out the press release below.
DECK NINE UNVEILS ILLUMINATING DETAILS OF LIFE IS STRANGE: TRUE COLORS’ PSYCHIC POWER OF EMPATHY DURING SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS’ E3 SHOW
Psychic Power of Empathy Delivers a Colorful Way for Players to Unravel the Supernatural Mystery in All-New Narrative Adventure
LONDON, UK (June 13, 2021) – Today Life is Strange fans across the globe were given a deep dive look at the supernatural power that players will control in the award-winning series’ next major entry, Life is Strange: True Colors. The details were shared in the company’s SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS show, which aired during E3 2021. Developed by Deck Nine Games, the studio behind Life is Strange: Before the Storm, in collaboration with Square Enix External Studios, Life is Strange: True Colors introduces players to Alex Chen, an all-new protagonist who will use her psychic power of empathy to solve a mystery that will make her question everyone and everything she’s come to know in the quaint small town of Haven Springs.
In March, the latest entry in the Life is Strange series was revealed: Life is Strange: True Colors, a small-town supernatural mystery.
Brought to life through full performance capture by rising talent Erika Mori, players will navigate Haven Springs as Alex Chen, a young woman who has long suppressed her ‘curse’: the psychic power of Empathy, a supernatural ability that allows her to experience, absorb and influence the strong emotions of others – which she sees as blazing, colored auras.
When her brother dies, in a suspicious accident, Alex must at last embrace her volatile power to find the truth, and uncover the dark secrets buried by a small town. Alex Chen’s journey, power and future are all fully under the player’s control.
The presentation gave more insight into the visuals, gameplay, and narrative impact of Alex’s psychic power of Empathy, showing how she and the player will make choices and interact with the citizens of Haven Springs, both through use of the power during exploration, and in memorable story-driven moments that present the player with complex decisions only they – using Alex’s power – can resolve.
The psychic power of Empathy affects every interaction and relationship Alex has in the game and is fully under the players control. Use it to reveal the secrets of Haven Springs, the hidden facets of Alex’s past, and the future of her journey to find a place to call home.
Watch the entire Square Enix Presents Summer stream here:
Gamers can pre-order Life is Strange: True Colors now. Full details on each version of the game can be found at lifeisstrange.com
Life is Strange: True Colors is slated for release on PlayStation 5®, PlayStation 4®, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC Steam, and Google Stadia on September 10, 2021.