‘Life is Strange’: How Chloe’s Story in ‘Before the Storm’ Inspired ‘True Colors’
Life is Strange: Before the Storm and Life is Strange: True Colors share a connection beyond the character of Steph Gingrich. Deck Nine Games, the developer behind both story-driven adventure video games, drew from player responses to Before the Storm when building the premise for True Colors. Here’s how Chloe Price’s story paved the way for the creation of Alex Chen, according to the development team.
Deck Nine developed both ‘Life Is Strange: Before the Storm’ and ‘Life Is Strange: True Colors’
The Life is Strange franchise, which follows characters with unexplained supernatural abilities, began with developer Dontnod Entertainment. The studio created the first game, Life is Strange, and Life is Strange 2. However, Dontnod later shifted its focus to self-published titles, and publisher Square Enix tapped Deck Nine to take over.
As Life is Strange: Before the Storm game director Chris Floyd told Engadget in 2017, the opportunity came as a major surprise. Deck Nine had just pivoted to the narrative adventure genre and told several publishers about the shift. Still, the studio didn’t expect such an enthusiastic response from Square Enix.
“It was Square that came back to us and said, ‘What do you think about making the next game in the Life is Strange franchise?’ And we honestly hadn’t really expected that was on the table, to be able to make something in this amazing franchise,” Floyd said. “We were all such big fans of what Dontnod had accomplished. But it’s such a unique vision that they have that we really were kind of surprised when we got offered it.”
Many ‘Life Is Strange: Before the Storm’ players experienced empathy for Chloe
Life is Strange: Before the Storm serves as a prequel to Life is Strange. The story follows Chloe Price, a close friend to the time-manipulating protagonist, Max Caulfield, in Life is Strange. Chloe may not have a supernatural power, but she does have a powerful sense of sass. The game focuses on Chloe and her relationship with Rachel Amber before Rachel goes missing.
Meanwhile, Life is Strange: True Colors follows Alex Chen, a 21-year-old with empathetic powers that allow her to see others’ strongest emotions in color and feel them herself. She must use her ability to learn the truth about her older brother’s mysterious death.
In an interview with Game Informer, True Colors senior staff writer Felice Kuan said the idea of empathy really began with Before the Storm. Deck Nine noticed that many Life is Strange players didn’t like Chloe at first, but they changed their minds after seeing her perspective in Before the Storm.
“I know that we wanted to embrace the fact that a narrative adventure game is a literal experience of empathy. We loved that aspect of it, and that was there from the start,” Kuan said.
“It was very much a period of discovery, where there was no rush to find the right thing,” narrative director Jon Zimmerman added. “We had the time and the freedom to explore all different ideas. And it was actually pretty soon that we came to this notion of empathy; that was the germ that led to everything else.”
‘True Colors’ still differs from its predecessors
While the basis of True Colors is derived from Before the Storm, the newest Life is Strange installment is still very different from previous titles. The biggest difference is that previous protagonists only just discovered their mysterious powers, while Alex has lived with her empathetic ability for years.
According to Kuan, that detail was crucial in making her empathy feel more authentic and relatable. She told Game Informer:
What was very compelling to us was [her] power starting in foster care, in the brokenness of her family, you could very well imagine that would make an already bad situation worse. Therefore, that gives Alex a lot of complexity within herself, an ambivalence about this power … Because we didn’t want to look at empathy just as a gameplay mechanic but as a thing that can be both a wonderful tool and a source of harm or a source of self-doubt. Having her in that spot, both supernaturally and just from the mundane emotional level, was very interesting to us.
Life is Strange: True Colors and Life is Strange: Before the Storm are available now.