Life is Strange: True Colors
Deck Nine Games & Square Enix External Studios (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia)
Life is Strange: True Colors centers on the story of a 21-year-old bisexual Asian American woman who has spent the last eight years in foster care, a radical departure from whose stories are typically told in AAA video games. The protagonist, Alex Chen, has the supernatural ability to sense and manipulate others’ emotions. Shortly after witnessing the tragic death of her brother, Alex, she and her friends uncover conspiracies that lead them to question the town’s history and what Alex knows about her own family. Notably, though, intense moments of darkness are balanced by unexpected happiness—such as leading an imaginative young boy through the town as part of a Live Action Roleplay (LARP) game. The game’s central mechanic, the ability to sense and influence emotions, plays a crucial role in both the narrative and the gameplay. The whole development team created a diverse and inclusive game, seeking out consultants, including mental health professionals, to ensure that the characters and themes were authentic and respectful, while using a combination of traditional motion capture and performance capture to produce more realistic and nuanced character animations. And the game features a dynamic soundtrack that changes in response to the player’s choices and emotional state, creating a more personalized and immersive experience. For showcasing both empathy as a superpower and the power of games as a medium for emotionally resonant storytelling, Life is Strange: True Colors wins a Peabody.