If Before the Storm was the beginning of Steph’s story and Life is Strange: True Colors is the end, Wavelengths bridges the gap between the two. While most DLC packs expand on the world around the main character, taking them to new locations, meeting new NPCs, and adding onto prevalent storylines, the Life is Strange: True Colors Wavelengths DLC is a bit different. Like Before the Storm, players find themselves in control of a side character, Steph Gringrich. The story takes place when she first stumbles into Haven Springs, about a year before Alex Chen comes to town. Steph first appeared in Chloe’s prequel chapter, Before the Storm, where the two became good friends through the magic of Dungeons and Dragons. Many players were left unsatisfied with its end, but Wavelengths does more than just offer players a look at Steph’s life, it also bridges the gap and fills a hole that Before the Storm left behind
As players come to find out in Life is Strange: True Colors, specifically if they followed Steph’s romantic path, it was never the drummer’s intention to land in Haven Springs. But after a messy breakup resulting in blocked numbers, Steph uses the small town as an opportunity to take a breather and figure out what the next chapter in her life might be. As impulsive and spontaneous as she might seem in the base game, Wavelengths shows that she’s always looking ahead, hoping to find the answers and plan her next step, even if she’s never looking at the long-term. Ironically, instead of finding these answers herself, she provides some insight as a pseudo-psychic on the shop’s radio station.Using a D20, Steph foretells the fates of callers looking for serious life advice, sometimes relating to coming out as queer, a woman meeting her girlfriend’s parents for the first time, or even Gabe, who’s nervous about speaking with Alex for the first time in years. But the D20 can’t tell all, and neither can Steph. In the end, after a year of working for the radio station, she cancels the bit, realizing that the best parts of life are unpredictable. Enter: Alex Chen.
Even if players might see it coming from a mile away, it’s fitting that Wavelengths begins exactly where Life is Strange: True Colors started. But having this expected endcap serves well for a plot device because there isn’t exactly a traditional plot in Steph’s story, per se. Unlike any other Life is Strange installment, Wavelengths is a slice-of-life take on someone’s life and the average struggles they face. Players will see sides of Steph that they’ve never encountered before, such as how she handles problems—or rather, refuses to deal with them—and how it affects the relationships with those around her, providing some insight on events in her past, both new and familiar to the player.
Unexpectedly, though, Wavelengths shows a new perspective on the aftermath of Chloe’s death or the destruction of Arcadia Bay, depending on which they chose to save at the end of Life is Strange. Before the Storm left some unanswered questions regarding the people left behind in Arcadia Bay, regardless of the ending in Life is Strange. It may not answer every single query fans have, but it does fill in some of the gaps.
In opposition to True Colors, where Alex is often comforted and accompanied by the warm souls of Haven Springs, the time spent as Steph is lonely. The entire DLC takes place inside the record store and her radio booth. She’ll engage in phone calls on the station, flirt with strangers on a copycat version of Tinder, and text her friends in only moderately-used group chats. Most of the time, such as when she’s taking down her Pride Month decorations or coming up on the anniversary of Chloe’s death, she spends her days reminiscing on fond memories or even unsolved traumas. As the season’s change, so does Steph’s mood as she floats in this pause of her life. She doesn’t seem to think it’s moving forward but she also refuses to look back. If there’s a formal plot to Life is Strange‘s Wavelengths DLC, it’s Steph confronting her past and learning how to keep going.
There are only two moments where she interacts with other living people face-to-face, showing each of their significance in Steph’s life, past and future. Mikey is another character returning from Before the Storm, Steph’s good friend and Dungeons and Dragons companion. It’s been a long while since the two have joined forces, but Mikey’s able to convince her to continue their campaign as his Game Master, though it’s not without unleashing skeletons from her closet in the form of somber memories of sessions with Chloe and Rachel. And instead of letting Steph run away from her past yet again, he’s able to help her face it head-on, leading her to talk Gabe into reconnecting with Alex, the only real human to break through the threshold that is Steph’s record store. While Life is Strange: True Colors initially treated both love interests with some equity, it seems that Deck Nine may have leaned into one over the other.
In the end, players will leave with two things: some great music recommendations and the craving to play Life is Strange: True Colors once again, especially if they wooed Steph while in the shoes of Alex Chen, if nothing else but to see her finally get the wholesome romance she deserves. Overall, it’s only a short piece of Steph’s life, to connect the dots between Before the Storm and Alex’s story in True Colors, but it adds some context to her grounded attitude towards trauma and the decision she eventually makes to leave Haven Springs. Steph feels a bit out of place as a lesbian in a rural town, and she still desires the thrilling life of an indie band. Wavelengths provides the middle to Before the Storm‘s beginning and True Colors‘ end of the Steph Gingrich saga.