This preview is predicated on restricted impressions examined on PS5 and made obtainable by Sq. Enix forward of the sport’s September 10 launch.
With 4 video games launched over the previous six years (together with one mini-spinoff, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit), the Life is Unusual collection has established a fame as an unlikely sort of narrative journey. Its YA protagonists, hipster-slanted coming-of-age tales, and proximity to trauma make it a part of a selected style, and the collection has confirmed unexpectedly adept at principally reinventing itself from entry to entry.
In principle, these underpinnings may recommend a (hear us out) Silent Hill-style drawback that the collection has thus far managed to keep away from. However the place Konami’s survival horror collection punished its protagonists by way of distinctive, hellish manifestations reflecting their particular inside demons, Life is Unusual‘s supernatural skills empower its characters. Our protagonists aren’t outlined by their tragedies. They might be something, which permits collection builders far more freedom to strive new concepts.
A recent begin
Its newest sequel, True Colours, is a superb instance of simply how versatile Life is Unusual’s conceit could be. Reasonably than having the ability to rewind time or apply telekinesis, protagonist Alex Chen is an precise empath who can see folks’s feelings bodily. She feels their emotions as powerfully as in the event that they had been her personal. Her reward is a form of inversion on the traditional collection motifs, resulting in quite a lot of compelling eventualities and choice-based dilemmas over the a number of hours we spent testing out the sport. It is basic Life is Unusual but forged in a brand new, nonepisodic mild.
Alex’s energy feels extra primary than that initially. A lot of the first chapter sees her leaving a troubled lifetime of foster care in Portland to stay together with her estranged brother Gabe in Colorado. Whereas assembly Gabe’s buddies and attending to know her new dwelling of Haven Springs (or Haven, because the locals name it), the motion principally unfolds in typical Telltale-esque style—a minor dialogue alternative right here, a serious branching ethical resolution there. This is not a giant departure from the collection, and the standard minor environmental investigations, interactions, and lightweight puzzle-solving often breaking apart the conversations.
That is to not say this centered character growth is poorly finished. Although initially considerably awkward (mirroring Alex’s feeling of being an outsider) and possibly a contact too emotionally earnest earlier than you get a superb grasp on what makes anybody tick, the dialogue is sharp and genuine, which hasn’t at all times been true with this collection. Regardless of their distance, the bond is clear between Alex and Gabe, whose coronary heart of gold and goofy exuberance is so infectious you possibly can’t assist liking him. This basis turns into crucial to the story because it progresses, and it regularly touches everybody within the city.
An enchanting, if possibly neglected, implication of Alex’s empathy is that it basically permits to her to apply a type of, uh, benevolent emotional manipulation. At first, she will be able to solely categorical a fearful voiceover after experiencing somebody’s intense anger or ache. However as the sport progresses, she finds it needed push dialogue in a single route or one other. Gaining new info or altering her perspective on varied conditions quickly turns into central to her fixing issues.
From the chapters we performed, Alex’s capability to govern different characters was solely briefly addressed within the pages of her journal. (Studying her journal is optionally available, as are the social media and organically written textual content messages that illuminate the lives of the remainder of the forged.) However her abilities at manipulation may come to bear tougher within the sport’s ultimate act. Both approach, as Alex awakens to her true potential, she finds it is potential to vary her perspective in stunning methods. With out getting too far into specifics, this opens up wealthy, imaginative new layers of exploration, introspection, and her impact on the world.
Whereas elevated by robust performances and writing, the script we noticed did not at all times make an effort to prioritize the “critical” plot driving its central thriller, which can really feel odd relying on what you are on the lookout for. And we discovered small inconsistencies in dialogue primarily based on actions the participant has or hasn’t already taken. The sport is nothing to jot down dwelling about from a technical standpoint, with sporadic body drops whereas exploring Haven Springs and hit-or-miss visible high quality. And do not get us began on the inexplicable, upwards-of-10-second loading occasions every time Alex enters a brand new scene or constructing, regardless of operating on the SSD-fueled PS5.
Nonetheless, specializing in these quibbles would miss the purpose. Sq. Enix hasn’t been shy that True Colours revolves round loss, and it is by way of Alex’s new relationships and shared experiences together with her newfound neighborhood that the sport shines. True Colours may find yourself being the collection’ most real reinvention but.
Itemizing picture by Square Enix