Released in September of last year, Square Enix and Deck Nine's latest installment in the popular Life is Strange series, Life is Strange: True Colors, received praise for its characterizations and storyline. It was nominated for Best Narrative and Best Performance at The Game Awards 2021, and won the Games for Impact accolade. Suffice to say, Life is Strange: True Colors was considered a worthy follow-up to the emotionally charged and narratively complex previous entries. With an exceptional new setting, new characters, and brand-new game mechanics in the form of protagonist Alex Chen's empathy powers, it elevates its small-town mystery into something truly special.
But these aren't the only elements that make up a typical Life is Strange game. Easter eggs, pop culture references, and callbacks to previous titles litter Life is Strange: True Colors, from t-shirts and soundtracks to miniature trucks in a flower shop. The narrative-focused games also make use of other story-driven pastimes like tabletop gaming and LARPing, tying in aspects of popular culture and other gaming mediums as a nod to fans of both, and a fun way to freshen up gameplay. With a variety of references sprinkled through Life is Strange: True Colors, there are lots of things for lovers of tabletop games to look out for.
A Tabletop Adventure
Life is Strange: Before the Storm really brought tabletop gaming to the forefront before it featured more prominently in Life is Strange: True Colors. Set before the devastating events of Life is Strange, the game focuses on Chloe Price in the familiar episodic structure as she navigates her tumultuous teenage life. In a more light-hearted section amidst the heavy emotional content and morally gray decision-making, Chloe has the chance to kick back and play a Dungeons & Dragons-adjacent tabletop game with some of her classmates.
In Episode One of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Chloe can engage in some tabletop gaming with Mikey and Steph. Taking on the role of a DM, Steph introduces Chloe to the fictional kingdom of Avernon and her elf barbarian character. With choices of where to go, what to do, and which insults to hurl, the brief campaign is a fun distraction from the main plot. Helping Mikey's wizard Elamon take on orc sergeants, dragonkin guards, and even a giant minotaur brings in classic elements of tabletop gaming for players to enjoy.
The Return Of Life is Strange's Role-Playing
Steph returns in Life is Strange: True Colors, and she is even a romance option for players to pursue in addition to park ranger Ryan. The Steph players see is very different from the more carefree character in Life is Strange: Before the Storm. She's left Arcadia Bay and has now moved to Haven Springs, and is still struggling with her past pain, either with the loss of her mother or the deaths of her friends Rachel Amber and Chloe depending on the difficult decisions players made.
Just like in Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Steph is the focal point when it comes to tabletop gaming. Clearly a passion of hers, players get to experience more of the "nerdy" pastime through her eyes in the DLC Wavelengths. Set a year before the events of the main game, Wavelengths follows Steph as she starts a new job at Haven Springs' KRCT radio station. Wavelengths is a chance for players to better explore Steph's character and her past trauma, as well as a chance to include as many tabletop references around her as possible.
Critical Role Is Front And Center
In addition to organizing an awesome town-wide LARPing event in Haven Springs, Steph is clearly a fan of Critical Role – a web series of voice actors working their way through D&D campaigns and other tabletop games. In terms of tabletop gaming, it's probably one of the most well-known and popular aspects of watchable content, particularly in non-tabletop player circles. The creators of Life is Strange: True Colors have used this to plant clues and Easter eggs throughout the record store and radio station. From comic books and posters to branded merch and t-shirts, there are references to Critical Role everywhere in Wavelengths.
Even the dating app that Steph scrolls through references the tabletop gaming phenomenon, with people clearly based on famous Critical Role characters like Cali who resembles Mark Hulmes' Calianna. Steph even plays a tabletop game with former best friend Mikey – a callback to his appearance in Before the Storm. But one of the most obvious references to tabletop gaming is Steph's use of the D20 dice. One of the most ubiquitous features of tabletop gaming, the D20 is synonymous with the pastime. With Steph using the famous gaming item to predict futures, it adds another fun reference to tabletop gaming.
Life is Strange: True Colors is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
With Life is Strange: True Colors being the breeziest entry in the series, fans should look towards Capcom's Great Ace Attorney after finishing it.