Life Is Strange: True Colours review – an earnest drama about a psychic empath

K

Keza MacDonald

Guest
PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC; Deck Nine/Square Enix
Interactive possibilities make this dorky tale about a small-town psychic musician strangely absorbing

The idea of moving somewhere picturesque for a fresh start is fast becoming as common a trope in video games as it is in TV, film and books. In this slice-of-life melodrama from Colorado studio Deck Nine, Alex Chen moves out of the care system and to a mountain town named Haven Springs to reunite with her estranged older brother, Gabe, who has made a comfortable life for himself there among the old miners, young hipsters and calming, snow-capped scenery. Predictably, however, she’s not there long before tragedy strikes, and Alex must use her superpower – reading people’s heightened emotions, arm outstretched like a cartoon psychic – to dig into what happened.

Themes of friendship, loss, owning your feelings and small-town community are set against a backdrop of corporate malfeasance from the mining company that controls the town. Sometimes the insights that Alex gains from her emotional mind-reading are one-line expressions of fear, joy or dissatisfaction that point you towards an easy way to help or an amusing character insight: the owner of an ice-cream store is worried about going out of business; the older chap in the bar turns out to be part of a tontine. When exploring stronger feelings, though, the world transforms around her, and she sees it through the eyes of the sufferer, with the help of some heavy-handed visual metaphor.

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