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Photo courtesy of Square Enix/Deck Nine Games

How Colorado’s Mountain Towns Inspired the Newest Life Is Strange Video Game

Local developers of the game’s latest installment, out September 10, share the real-life muses for the fictional world’s main drag.

Life Is Strange: True Colors, the latest entry in the award-winning, narrative-driven adventure video game series, is all about finding home. So it makes sense that the developer, Westminster-based Deck Nine, chose to set the game in its own backyard. Members of the production team scoured Colorado to gather the inspiration they needed to design the fictional mountain town of Haven Springs from the ground up. “Not many games are based in Colorado,” says Deck Nine producer Rebeccah Bassell, “so we see it as a love letter to our home state.” In anticipation of its release on September 10, Bassell breaks down some of Haven Springs’ real-life muses.

Moving Mountains
Don’t expect exact replicas of the San Juans or Maroon Bells. Instead, the designers took elements they loved, such as the way the sun rises over one peak or the ruggedness of another, from mountain ranges across the Rockies.

A Sense Of Place
The game starts with the player arriving in Haven Springs, so it was important for the design team to nail all the nuances that make Colorado’s mountain towns so inviting. To aid that endeavor, the production crew took hundreds of reference photos, capturing everything from Leadville’s Italianate Tabor Opera House to Breckenridge’s 19th-century storefronts to the way one Georgetown local stored a garden hose.

Putting Down Roots
“Our environment team is so proud of all the tiny elements that are faithful to Colorado, down to the types of flowers and trees growing in the background,” Bassell says. That meticulousness meant Deck Nine researched more than 30 species of local vegetation, including everything from bristlecone pine to Boulder raspberry to mountain lupines to these quaking aspens.

On Brand
“I’ve noticed every small mountain town has an ice cream shop and a Tibetan store,” Bassell says, “and things like that are definitely referenced in the game.” There’s also a subtle nod to Casa Bonita in the dialogue that Coloradans will catch.

Street Cred
Reminiscent of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, Haven Springs’ Main Street is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare you explore as you unravel your brother’s mysterious death. Your choices will shape which people you find strolling by and what you can interact with.

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