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Life is Strange: True Colors’ biggest question is hiding in plain sight

Life is Strange: True Colors' biggest question is hiding in plain sight

Life is Strange: Alex Chen possesses a singular ability: she is an empath in the strictest sense. After being separated from her brother due to the foster-care system, Alex comes to Haven Springs with her family and begins a new life with them.

Alex’s first day in Haven Springs sees her reunited with Gabe after eight years apart, and she sets up business in what she hopes will be her new permanent home. She’s striving to live a normal life, free of the empathic powers that allow her to sense (and occasionally be overpowered by) the overwhelming emotions of other people, one that is balanced by freedom and connection.

When Life is Strange: True Colors was initially revealed, I wasn’t sold on the idea that players might utilize empathy to their advantage. It seemed corny, and I couldn’t see how it could be applied creatively in the game. It turns out that I was incorrect. Empathy is a powerful tool in telling Alex’s narrative and bringing this sleepy mining village to life. That power gives us access to difficult decisions and unanswered problems that we, as participants, are compelled to confront: Are you allowed to use someone’s anxieties as a weapon? Is it any different if it’s for their benefit? Is it better to remove someone’s anxiety or rage? What exactly is the boundary?

In Life Is Strange: True Colors, there is sadness and rage, but there is also love and happiness. Even while the story has its share of heartbreak, it’s easy to see how the characters might also have moments of bittersweet delight. That being said, I couldn’t get the feeling that there was something missing from the experience. As it turns out, there is an answer to that question. It was merely buried in the game’s ambient hints, and I missed it entirely.

Gabe dies during Alex’s first day in Haven Springs, which isn’t a surprise considering it’s in the trailer and most marketing for the game. On the night before a corporate mining company’s scheduled detonation, a group of friends, including Alex and Gabe, are searching for a missing youngster in the mountains. In spite of the company’s assurances that the bomb will be delayed, it goes ahead and kills Gabe.

While playing the game, Alex and pals discover that Gabe’s death was really a cover-up for a hidden blast aimed to obscure evidence of an accident: Several miners were killed when a separate mine collapsed many years ago. To conceal the reality of that accident, my owner was attempting to do so.

Here’s the major snub and tremendous surprise: Alex and Gabe’s father, who had left the family many years before, was one of the miners in Haven Springs. Alex and Gabe were left alone when their father abandoned the family immediately after their mother’s death due to cancer, as detailed earlier in the novel.)

Instead of being surprised, I was left feeling perplexed by this revelation. Neither Alex nor Gabe could have predicted that they would wind themselves in the same little town, many states away, as their now-deceased father. Was she there because of Alex’s abilities? In the end, everything just didn’t add up. However, I decided to ignore it for the time being and returned to investigate once I had completed the game. I’m not the only one who’s baffled. Bewildered? Why am I frowning?

It turns out, though, that I overlooked an important aspect of the tale that connected everything. As soon as Alex first steps foot in Gabe’s apartment in Life is Strange: True Colors, she’s able to examine and feel the memories embedded in various objects. As you read Alex’s story, you’ll find that Gabe came to Haven Springs seeking for his father, and confirmed that he passed through this town. Gabe kicked the wall in despair, causing the crack.

After recalling the incident, Alex writes in his notebook, “He’d been in town for a week, and all his spare time had gone towards locating Dad.” “Of course, it was for naught. Dad had vanished years earlier.”

Maybe I should have guessed that Gabe was seeking for his father, but there had been no indications to suggest so. Having finished the game, I’m delighted to know that Gabe and Alex didn’t get up in the little village by accident; it was a crucial moment in Gabe’s emotional narrative that I overlooked, and it was a detail that helped me accept the game’s huge reveal.

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