Life is Strange made a sanction for itself by focusing connected relatable characters dealing with complex, real-life issues. The bid has tackled intelligence health, identity, and adjacent racism successful its stories. Along the way, relationships betwixt characters, specified arsenic Chloe and Max’s relationship and Sean and Daniel’s sibling bond, person driven each communicative successful memorable ways. The games person ever centered connected our choices and however they signifier the radical and satellite astir us. As the bid goes into its 3rd iteration, it leans into its spot of authentically portraying life’s hardships and analyzable emotions.
The latest entry, Life is Strange: True Colors, is simply a caller starting point, starring a caller quality with a antithetic power: Empathy. It’s besides the archetypal mainline introduction not being developed by archetypal improvement workplace Dontnod; instead, it is being created by Deck Nine, the squad liable for the outstanding Before the Storm prequel. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look astatine however Alex Chen’s travel came to beingness and wherefore empathy was ever a driving unit successful its creation.
Your decisions volition signifier the assemblage of Haven Springs and the relationships Alex forms there
How Before The Storm Informed True Colors
How Before The Storm Informed True Colors
Deck Nine is intimately acquainted with the Life is Strange satellite and what makes it unique. The squad loved bringing to beingness Chloe and Rachel’s sweet-but-somber communicative successful Life is Strange: Before the Storm and amazed fans and critics alike successful however they gave the quality of Chloe much layers and allowed players to recognize her plight better. One happening that stood retired successful the team’s caput was the powerfulness of empathy successful telling Chloe’s story. It stayed with Deck Nine until Square Enix approached the workplace to make the franchise’s 3rd main entry.
“It was precise overmuch a play of discovery, wherever determination was nary unreserved to find the close thing,” says communicative manager Jon Zimmerman. “We had the clip and the state to research each antithetic ideas. And it was really beauteous soon that we came to this conception of empathy; that was the germ that led to everything else …”
“I cognize that we wanted to clasp the information that a communicative escapade crippled is simply a literal acquisition of empathy,” adds elder unit writer Felice Kuan. “We loved that facet of it, and that was determination from the start.”
Both Zimmerman and Kuan were caller to penning for video games erstwhile they worked connected Before the Storm. It fto them travel successful with a caller perspective, and they rapidly realized video games had a large vantage erstwhile telling stories. “We would speech a batch astir large representation things astir communicative adventures, and we often came backmost to this happening of however perfectly unsocial and spectacular it is to spot a subordinate successful the position of a quality that you privation to make a melodramatic travel for, and however that differentiates games from each different medium,” Zimmerman says.
Deck Nine rapidly became immersed successful the instrumentality assemblage for Before the Storm. One of the team’s favourite pieces of feedback was that players who antecedently didn’t emotion Chloe changed their tune aft playing arsenic her successful Before the Storm. “A communal thread was that idiosyncratic would say, ‘Hey, I recovered Chloe a small spot overmuch successful the archetypal game, but past aft I was successful her shoes, I would dice for her,’” Kuan says. This revelation helped solidify that thing peculiar happens erstwhile players embody a quality and acquisition their constituent of view.
From here, Deck Nine started focusing connected creating True Colors’ protagonist: Alex Chen, the archetypal Asian American pb successful the series. A large extremity was to support the complexity of the characters we’ve seen passim the bid and supply idiosyncratic wholly antithetic from before.
Bringing Alex To Life
Bringing Alex To Life
True Colors is simply a communicative with galore layers, and Alex’s travel cannot beryllium summed up successful 1 sentence. We conscionable Alex erstwhile she’s conscionable leaving a radical location aft 8 years. She’s heading to unrecorded with her member successful a municipality called Haven Springs [see sidebar]. She gets on with her brother, but they haven’t connected successful immoderate time. “Her inheritance is intentionally a root of mystery,” Zimmerman says. “She comes from a breached family, and she was separated from her member astatine a young age. She doesn’t person anyone successful the satellite looking retired for her by the clip she comes to Haven Springs. We’ll spot successful her reuniting with her member however that brings up the specter of their past and however Alex shies distant from wanting to prosecute with it.”
Instead of her instauration to Haven Springs being a joyful one, calamity soon strikes erstwhile Alex’s member dies successful a mysterious accident. Alex is not lone connected a quest to find retired what genuinely happened, but she’s besides searching for her ain spot successful the world, a assemblage of her own. “[We knew] that Alex was going to beryllium idiosyncratic for whom that was singularly meaningful to her, due to the fact that of her inheritance successful foster attraction and ne'er having a existent home,” Zimmerman says.
Erika Mori had to mocap immoderate of Alex's astir affectional scenes from her flat owed to COVID-19
Alex is 21 years old, making her much mature than erstwhile Life is Strange protagonists and giving her much big situations to confront. She’s astatine an absorbing constituent successful her life, wherever she’s trying to fig retired who she wants to beryllium and what she wants to do. Her beingness successful the radical location whitethorn not person been great, but it was comfortable. Alex is present leaving each of that, but she sees the limitless possibilities successful everything.
Erika Mori, who not lone lent her dependable to Alex but besides performed question seizure for the role, describes Alex’s property and outlook best: “Alex has an astir insatiable curiosity to observe what makes radical tick, knowing the ‘why’ down words oregon behavior. However, she has lived with the powerfulness [or the curse of the power] of empathy her full life, and its volatility has made beingness hard – making her watchful, cautious, and an outsider by circumstance. But she ever carries with her this thread of anticipation that makes her a quality of resilience and (ultimately) joy.”
Alex is successful interaction with her emotions since her powerfulness is empathy. This led to the determination to marque her an creator – a musician, to beryllium specific. “At a definite point, we realized that we were talking astir an artist, due to the fact that [we needed] idiosyncratic who has that benignant of a filter connected the satellite – a sensitivity and vulnerability that they can’t crook off,” Zimmerman says.
Understanding and sharing different person’s feelings is simply a accomplishment that seems successful abbreviated proviso these days, but Alex has ever seen it arsenic much of a curse than a blessing owed to its affectional toll. However, if she wants to find answers astir her brother’s death, she needs to pat into this quality to spot what radical are hiding. Discovering however to correspond her powerfulness wasn’t easy, but it proved an indispensable portion of who Alex is and who she becomes.
Making Empathy Matter
Making Empathy Matter
Until this point, Life is Strange characters person possessed supernatural powers, similar Max’s quality to rewind clip and Daniel’s telekinesis. Alex’s powerfulness is based overmuch much successful reality, arsenic she tin consciousness the emotions of others, but it comes with a twist arsenic she tin besides manipulate and sorb these emotions. While Deck Nine was initially intrigued by the conception of empathy, it didn’t beryllium casual to observe the champion mode to represent this quality and marque it inactive consciousness authentic.
As opposed to different Life is Strange protagonists, the writers wanted Alex to person entree to her powerfulness astatine the commencement of the game; she’s been surviving with this ability, and she’s already formed her ain narration with it. “What was precise compelling to america was [her] powerfulness starting successful foster care, successful the brokenness of her family, you could precise good ideate that would marque an already atrocious concern worse,” Kuan says. “Therefore, that gives Alex a batch of complexity wrong herself, an ambivalence astir this powerfulness … Because we didn’t privation to look astatine empathy conscionable arsenic a gameplay mechanic but arsenic a happening that tin beryllium some a fantastic instrumentality and a root of harm oregon a root of self-doubt. Having her successful that spot, some supernaturally and conscionable from the mundane affectional level, was precise absorbing to us.”
Zimmerman recalls it taking clip to fig retired however to champion correspond Alex’s powerfulness successful the gameplay but says uncovering the solution is 1 of his highlights moving connected the game. Alex’s powerfulness of empathy started precise simply, with the squad utilizing antithetic colored auras to correspond circumstantial emotions successful others. However, things got breathtaking erstwhile the developers came up with the thought to adhd “novas.” Novas make a supernatural flare that transforms the satellite earlier you, offering a reflection of different person’s psyche. In this highly charged affectional state, Alex sees fragments of thoughts and memories to assistance her get to the basal of the issue.
“I deliberation [novas are] erstwhile everything truly clicked into spot from a communicative and plan matrimony standpoint, due to the fact that we had the state to get benignant of surreal and abstract successful evoking, ‘What does fearfulness consciousness like?’” Zimmerman explains. The squad went beyond conscionable reasoning astir the emotion itself into however the feeling would beryllium represented successful a circumstantial character. Zimmerman uses the illustration of fearfulness looking precise antithetic for a kid than it does for an older person, saying the novas allowed the squad to dive into each the assorted nuances of empathy.
All episodes of True Colors volition beryllium disposable astatine launch, but the crippled inactive keeps the five-chapter format and aggravated cliffhangers
When it came to Alex’s power, Mori had to deliberation cautiously and experimentation for her performance. “It was a truly absorbing puzzle to fig retired however to execute a circumstantial emotion that was going done respective antithetic filters earlier arriving successful the world,” she explains. “For example, erstwhile different person’s rage would overtake Alex, she would intimately cognize however that rage was feeling for them, but it would besides trigger her ain feelings and [memories] of her ain rage. Ultimately, Alex was trying to incorporate the affectional resonance of 2 radical – the different and herself. It was amusive to play with the antithetic ways to amusement this with my face, body, and voice.”
Of course, knowing characters connected a deeper level is bound to interaction a choice-heavy game. That’s not mislaid connected Deck Nine, arsenic the originative squad perpetually asked itself what kinds of dilemmas and challenges would hap done the empathic experience. “An evident 1 is if you tin empathize with a idiosyncratic who is doing thing immoral, does that alteration the mode that you consciousness astir the enactment that they’re taking?” Zimmerman says. “I deliberation that there’s a full household of questions, not that those are the lone things that travel up arsenic choices, but things that we felt were breathtaking territory to explore.”
It’s an absorbing prime to enactment successful the player’s hands, arsenic they tin determine whether to person Alex experience, absorb, oregon adjacent manipulate the almighty emotions successful those astir her. For instance, bash you fto idiosyncratic consciousness the achy emotions, oregon bash you instrumentality these feelings distant from them? And what toll does that instrumentality connected Alex? “What the crippled yet says is that it is simply a equilibrium of knowing wherever your idiosyncratic boundaries are,” says shaper Rebeccah Bassell. “The subordinate tin determine that for Alex, and astatine the aforesaid time, [decide if they should] grant the feelings of those astir her, due to the fact that it is simply a precise precious happening to instrumentality distant someone’s agency. You whitethorn deliberation it volition assistance them, but it whitethorn not. And that’s the prime that they person to navigate.”
Navigating emotions is already complicated, but Deck Nine takes it to a caller and intriguing level by making players see the antithetic facets of empathy and its affirmative and antagonistic parts. Since empathy is the driving unit down the game, it makes consciousness to situation the subordinate with its complexities.
For much connected Life is Strange: True Colors, you tin work our review.