The DeanBeat: Life Is Strange: True Colors – discovering feelings, identity, and your story

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I enjoy Dontnod Entertainment’s Life Is Strange games since they’re generally celebrations of diversity, with exciting characters who are fleshed out with relationships and feelings. And Life Is Strange: True Colors, constructed by Deck Nine, hits closer to home as it is one of the initially higher-high quality video games exactly where a couple of the lead characters are of Asian descent.

The principal character is Alexandra “Alex” Chen, who comes to a smaller town named Haven Springs in the Colorado mountains to reunite with her brother Gabe for the initially time in a lot of years, soon after she spent eight years in the foster care program. She is striking, but not in the usual wafer-thin attractive female lead character way that we generally see in video games. In truth, she is heavier, and she appears fairly regular, as do most of the other characters in the game. They’re all component of a diverse crew, living their lives like regular people in a smaller town.

To me, it is worth dwelling on this since it is such a uncommon encounter to see persons like me in games. I’ve seen North American Asians represented on Television (Kim’s Convenience), and film (Crazy Rich Asians and Shang-Chi), but the only other game exactly where I’ve played with Asian American lead characters is Arkane’s Prey, a shooter game from 2017 with the principal character Morgan Yu. But Morgan was a speechless initially-individual shooter hero — an individual you pretty much never ever saw on the screen. Some of you could also bear in mind Faith in Electronic Arts’ 2007 game Mirror’s Edge. She had the similar trouble as Morgan. Might as nicely be invisible.

Image Credit: Square Enix/Deck Nine

By contrast, Alex Chen is ever-present all through True Colors. It’s a third-individual adventure game exactly where she is generally on screen. A character like this is validating. It appears tough to convey that I really feel nicely represented by an Asian American lady. But it is akin to how you could really feel when any character reflects some component of you. For Asian Americans, it assists us deal with the truth that we’re largely invisible. Can you think about expanding up in a world exactly where no one in the mass marketplace entertainment media appears something remotely like you do? It’s having superior for all of us who really feel marginalized, but I can count such characters who represent me nicely on one hand amongst thousands of games.


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And it is a type of milestone to see a character like this take center stage. Diversity is not just about having an invitation to a party. It’s about having asked to dance, or getting invited to dive in as a complete participant, mentioned Asra Rasheed, an executive at Disney, at one of our GamesBeat Summit events. And it is also good to see that this representation in True Colors is not stereotypical. Alex and her brother are not “model minorities.” They’re far from great, as goods of a broken family.

We have lengthy been cast as “model minorities,” an attitude that surfaced in the 1960s. Proponents of the myth utilised it to show that America wasn’t racist. If Asian Americans could succeed, the American program was fair, and so Black and Latinx persons must be capable to succeed as well. It was a myth that left behind a lot of Asian Americans who weren’t thriving. Alex Chen is fairly regular, and whilst she has superpowers, she does not have them in the stereotypical way of getting super brainy or fantastic at math.

I also liked how the narrative explored the bonds of childhood and the dire consequences that can take place significantly later in life when these bonds are broken. Alex is forced to confront unpleasant memories that in the end come complete circle as she digs up the ghosts of the previous. We study that Alex got her powers via emotional trauma, and generally suffered from the refusal of persons to think that she had them. So she was institutionalized as delusional, when she in truth was the one who could see the mental state of other folks.

Familiar gameplay

Alex can feel an emotional aura around other characters in Life is Strange: True Colors.

Image Credit: Square Enix

The correct individuality of Alex indicates that Deck Nine, which also made Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, has carried out a fantastic job in the design and style of characters. Alex Chen is an individual who loses family and grieves. Her uniqueness tends to make for some exciting gameplay, as she makes use of her mental powers to resolve mysteries. She can magically detect what persons are feeling. Alex is a psychic empath who can really feel what other folks are feeling and channel that emotion. Usually, she can assist other folks by taking on their feelings herself. But from time to time this comes at grave danger to her personal peace of thoughts.

She can also detect bullshit. When you come close to other characters, you can speak to them. This becomes specifically beneficial when Alex loses her brother in a tragic accident. Then she detects the feelings of the townspeople and realizes that they’re maintaining secrets from Alex. She has to use these superpowers to assist persons resolve their feelings, for fantastic or negative. And she finds that it is a mixture of each emotional truth and investigative work that can bring her the answers about her brother.

I liked the characters that we met along the way, and how we get to know them beneath the service. One man has so significantly guilt that it is less difficult to extract the worry out of him, whilst other folks hide their feelings nicely. At one point, every person feels pleased at a remembrance moment — except one individual who is distressed and behaving suspiciously. When you stumble upon these moments, it feels thrilling to uncover an emotion that would otherwise have been hidden from you.

Too familiar

Life is Strange: True Colors has beautiful landscapes and character animations.

Image Credit: Square Enix

I also liked how I knew how to play this game appropriate from the begin. Life Is Strange players will recognize a lot about this game. While made by Deck Nine, the studio feels pretty much interchangeable with Dontnod — each businesses have been undertaking Life Is Strange work for Square Enix. The photos in the game look attractive, and the human animations and character faces look remarkable, as do the environments.

But they come with tradeoffs. The interaction is restricted. You’re not going to go blazing down the principal street of Haven Springs at 120 frames per second. In truth, all you are going to see is this single principal street of the town and a couple of side streets. While attractive, the atmosphere is restricted.

This is probably the initially Life Is Strange game exactly where the slower pace of the gameplay bothered me. The gameplay is becoming a bit as well familiar, and I was wishing I had more interaction. The tech feels like it is aging. I generally attempt to look about for objects hidden in the scenery, but it requires so lengthy to look at each and every item. And whilst the characters look good, their movement can nonetheless look robotic rather than human.

This made me not want to discover the landscape as significantly as I must have, and I sometimes missed anything I was supposed to locate. I felt like Deck Nine’s game engine (a version of Unreal) truly requirements an update. That reminds me how I felt a couple of years back about the 2D Telltale games just as they have been superseded by Dontnod’s 3D adventures.

This as well-familiar gameplay came back to me in a couple of other approaches. I played Dontnod’s Twin Mirror game last fall, exactly where a journalist returns to a smaller mining town and investigates the death of his finest buddy. While Alex is not a journalist, her investigation of her brother’s death in a smaller mining town seemed as well familiar as nicely. With an evil firm named Typhon and the tension about releasing its secrets to the press, I felt like I had lived via this unique plot just before. It feels like either Square Enix or Dontnod could have carried out a superior job of steering two distinct developers — Dontnod’s personal teams and Deck Nine — away from undertaking stories that have been as well comparable to each and every other.

Lastly, I also didn’t truly like the middle component of the story, exactly where Alex goes on a live-action part-playing encounter, or LARP. It felt like a lot of filler. But when one of the negative guys in the LARP turns out to be the negative guy in the actual story, I appreciated the Hamlet-like message that Deck Nine was attempting to pass along to me. That is, the outcome of the LARP story leads to a comparable outcome in the story of Haven Springs. When I figured that component out, I was significantly less annoyed with Deck Nine’s writers. In truth, it was good to see how this bouncing back in between realities — like one story in a child’s comic book, a further story behind the LARP, and the story of Alex’s pay a visit to to Haven Springs — have been all interelated.

Making selections

1634313610 311 The DeanBeat Life Is Strange True Colors discovering emotions

Image Credit: Square Enix/Deck Nine

I have to bear in mind exactly where Life Is Strange and the developers truly excel. Life Is Strange as a franchise is not afraid to tackle controversial troubles in its games, like teen suicide, immigration, racism, transphobia, alcoholism, and drug abuse. In this case, it focuses on the loss of family members, the travails of foster care, and standing up against a corporate monster. Dontnod and Deck Nine’s games give you challenging selections in their branching stories.

And from time to time you have a play inside a play inside a play. As Alex, you have to play your component, not just in the LARP, but in the game’s story as it leads you to a logical conclusion.

I made a lot of selections in the game. At one point, I decided not to use my superpowers to assist an individual, and that basically felt like the appropriate selection. I didn’t want to take someone’s correct feelings away from them, so that they could mask their grief. I felt like they necessary to really feel these feelings. At the finish of it, I could see how my selections matched up against these of other players. I discovered I was in the minority in that unique selection. In some selections I lined up with the majority of players. In other folks, I made contrarian selections. And in a couple of circumstances, since I didn’t learn some secret places, I entirely missed generating a selection. This made me want to reply components of the game once again.

1634313611 633 The DeanBeat Life Is Strange True Colors discovering emotions

Image Credit: Square Enix/Deck Nine

The game lets you select who you pull close to you in the kind of your close buddies, Ryan and Steph. You can select irrespective of whether you want to have a relationship with either of them, and you can see the consequences of telling them your secrets or failing to inform them. You can see my ending in the video embedded in this post (spoilers).

What comes back to me is that Alex discovers her identity and what is significant to her. When she finds herself, it is a good feeling, and it echoes that feeling I had when I felt represented in a game. I felt that validation, that visibility, that recognition that persons like me deserve to have their story told. For a work of interactive fiction to inspire me really feel such items about my identity was exhilarating.

While Alex’s story didn’t have the most action in it, it was complete of emotion and it was a story worth telling. I give this one 5 stars out of 5 when it comes to its narrative, but I drop it down a notch to 4 stars out of 5 since of the clunky movement and as well-familiar gameplay. I’m seeking forward to what Dontnod and Deck Nine can do with next-generation platforms and the future Unreal Engine. But for now, they fell just a tiny quick of what I was hoping for.

GamesBeat review score

Score: 4 out of 5

Square Enix gave me a copy of the Computer game for the objective of this critique.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz