Soundtrack 2 My Life
HIGH One last hurrah for Haven Springs.
LOW Being sad in four different seasons instead of just one.
WTF Maybe I should try a career in radio?
I reviewed Life is Strange: True Colors for GameCritics and consider it one of the finest works of art I’ve experienced all year. That review can be read here, where I go over the specifics as to why I enjoyed it overall, as well as some added context for the emotional state I was in while writing.
All that really needs to be said about the full game is that it made me process emotions I didn’t think I was ready to process. Fear, bitterness and the constant feeling of holding onto the past were all thrown at me over the course of my playthrough, with an ending that helped me come to terms with my depression and what could have caused it. I expected the first post-game add-on, subtitled Wavelengths to be a bit of a breather after what I witnessed.
In a way it is — though there were more than enough emotional breakthroughs for an add-on this short.
Taking place a year before the events of True Colors, players control Steph as she starts her new job at Haven’s record store as both a sales associate and local radio host. Returning players will no doubt be familiar with Steph’s story, as she was one of two potential love interests in the main campaign.
Steph is at an interesting point in her life. Reeling from the breakup of her band, the end of a relationship, and the traumatic events she endured at Arcadia Bay (the setting of the LiS prequel game Before the Storm) she sees her new job as the beginning of a new chapter.
As an add-on, the gameplay is exactly the same as it was in the main experience, though there are two major elements that make it stand out. First, it all takes place in a single location (the record store/recording studio) and it also lacks any supernatural elements, which are a staple of the Life is Strange games. Instead of seeing physical manifestations of emotional turmoil, I was treated to something very few games throw at me — the mundane.
Most of the game revolves around doing double-duty as both a record store clerk and radio DJ. This includes answering phone calls on the air, reading ads, or even cleaning the store. The story is broken up into four seasons across a year, with different events happening around Haven as time passes. It might not sound exciting to roleplay as a depressed zoomer who has to balance two jobs while trying to find dates on an app, but Wavelengths managed to pull me in. However, despite the ‘normal’ premise, this DLC is an emotional rollercoaster.
The crux is that Steph has to deal with the baggage she carries through this new chapter in her life. Choosing to stay in a small town instead of seeing the world in a band as she wanted is something I could relate to, as I regret not taking more chances and leaving home when I had the opportunity. The conversations she has with callers to the indie station she runs are also entertaining, as she unexpectedly becomes a ‘psychic’ of sorts, giving people advice on-air while forcing players to make some tough choices. For example, I had to console a young woman who was scared to leave a friend behind as she started college. It was hard to decide what to tell her, and I still feel like I didn’t do a great job of handling the situation. Similar to what I experienced in True Colors, these choices stuck with me long after my sessions ended and I mulled over every conversation.
Since it takes place in a record store, I’m glad to report that the music selection kicks ass. Artists like Hayley Kiyoko and Pond are featured on the soundtrack, and having these songs in the background helped me feel immersed me in the vibe and the experience.
As I mentioned in my original review, the reason True Colors stuck with me were the lessons I learned after finishing it — I learned that time heals all wounds, and that I should let go of problems now, instead of letting them fester. Wavelengths gave me another character doing the same, with fresher wounds and even heavier emotional baggage. As a prequel, knowing Steph’s fate from the beginning made her emotional growth feel even more rewarding, and reminded me that things will get better.
It just takes work.
Disclosures: This game is published by Square Enix and developed by Deck Nine. It is available on PS4/5, XBX/S/O, Switch, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 5 hours were spent in the single-player and the game was completed. There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated M for Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is an adventure game in which players follow the story of a young adult (Alex) trying to manage her empathic powers while solving a mystery in a Colorado town. From a third-person perspective, players explore various locations in town and interact with townspeople. Cutscenes depict some instances of violence: a man punching and kicking another character; a man shooting a character; a woman punching a character in the face repeatedly—Blood sometimes appears on characters’ knuckles and/or faces. The dialogue contains some suggestive references (e.g., “You know dudes can do nice things without the expectation of getting laid, right”; “Maybe Diane and I still hook up”; “…I thought you were f**king my girlfriend!!”). Some sequences allow players’ character to drink shots of alcohol or cans of beer, and one sequence depicts a drinking game in a bar. The town contains a marijuana dispensary; both marijuana and paraphernalia are visible when talking to characters in the shop. The words “f**k,” “sh*t,” and “a*shole” appear in the dialogue.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and on-screen instructions can be adjusted and audio is not needed to enjoy this game, thanks to the abundance of visual cues. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No the controls are not remappable but there is a control diagram.