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Image courtesy of Deck Nine

Deck Nine’s upcoming episodic game, “Life is Strange: True Colors,” has given its heroine an empathetic superpower that allows her to tap into people’s innermost thoughts.

Details: Alex sees people’s emotions as colorful auras. Once activated, the world will alter according to whatever emotionally charged state she’s entered.

  • Lead writer Felice Kuan told Axios that the team wanted to show empathy as “nuanced, on either end of the spectrum. At the beginning, Alex sees her power as a curse,” Kuan said.

Narrative director Jonathan Zimmeman told Axios the team has been “wrestling for the last four years” with the question of how to turn empathy into a superpower. “We were pretty obsessed with that question of what makes games such an empathic medium?” he said, and how they could “engender that in the player.”

  • “Empathy can kind of be a double-edged sword,” he added. “I think there is obvious value in seeing the world [with empathy] and understanding and feeling what others are feeling in order to more intimately connect with them.”
  • “But there’s also the risk of losing oneself in the process and losing the integrity of who you are and what’s worth defending about your own lived experience.”

That idea will play out in the game’s story, as Alex faces decisions on how to interact with, and in some cases manipulate, people’s emotions.

  • In one segment, Alex ponders whether to take away someone’s anger. “If you take that experience away from somebody, what does that do for them in the long term?” said producer Rebeccah Bassell, pointing to the decisions they may make later. “How does that impact yourself, too, if you take all that on?”

What’s next: Unlike previous "Life is Strange" games (which were typically developed by Dontnod), "True Colors" is an episodic story where all episodes will drop at once.

  • “It definitely changed the development process,” Zimmerman said, pointing to the ability to smoothly rework the overall story.
  • “But from a storytelling standpoint, really not much actually changed because we're still releasing it as a episodic story.” Players can binge the game at once, or space it out as they want. The game will still have cliffhangers as episodes conclude. 

Go deeper

Biden says presidency "will be determined" by outcome of spending plans

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
35 mins ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.