Whereas many video games typically have one thing at the very least considerably significant to say in regards to the world we stay in (advertently or no), I typically discover myself a bit disconnected from the monumental settings so many protagonists are dropped into. Loads of wonderful video games inform impactful tales about love, loss, hope, revenge, and so forth, nevertheless it’s uncommon for one thing to dig at me within the small, deeply private means that Chicory: A Colourful Story has. And it is even perhaps rarer for that private impression to be accompanied by the type of enjoyable, concise, self-aware, and inspiring little journey that indie developer Greg Lobanov and his colleagues current.
Chicory is best-described as a top-down Zelda-like journey sans fight the place the whole sport is a huge coloring e-book. It follows a protagonist that you simply identify after your favourite meals who’s the janitor and number-one fan of Chicory, the only real “wielder” of a magical brush used to paint within the in any other case black-and-white world. However Chicory vanishes, and all of the world’s colour goes along with her. The protagonist, stumbling upon her brush, takes it up themself and begins filling the world’s colour again in. It is enjoyable and video games initially, however issues shortly take a flip as you uncover a rising darkness troubling your pals and neighbors which seemingly has ties to Chicory, and the comb itself.
Chicory: A Colourful Story Official Screenshots
Your journey takes you throughout a world stuffed with charming, food-named locales (cities of Luncheon and Brekkie, the Appie Foothills, Supper Woods, and so on), progressing by fixing puzzles related to coloring within the black-and-white world. Firstly, you may solely have primary draw/erase features and 4 totally different colours pre-selected by the world you’re in. However over time you may get entry to extra instruments by way of collectible “brush types,” most of that are stamps (like stars or hearts) or patterns (dots, stripes) that can improve your in any other case simple line drawing. A very powerful of those, a fill software, is mercifully out there early on. The remainder of the comb types are scattered around the globe, serving as one among a handful of non-compulsory collectible challenges alongside a strong closet of hidden clothes choices to seek out, ornamental objects you possibly can arrange anyplace, and a sidequest involving misplaced cat kids.
Nice because the world is to uncover, the paint software of Chicory is extra the core of its gameplay than its exploration is. The world reacts to your paint, with puzzles requiring you to paint thoughtfully to beat obstacles, full sidequests, and entry hidden areas. Crops would possibly develop into crossable platforms with paint utilized, or shrink when erased in order to not block your path. Geysers of paint will shoot you throughout the map, color-filled mushrooms can be utilized as springboards, and bubbles crammed with paint will explode, breaking flimsy rocks standing in your means. As you progress, you may achieve extra powers, like the flexibility to color flowing water and swim in it, climb paint-covered partitions, or gentle up darkish caves with glow-in-the-dark paint.
What this finally leads to is a really intelligent new layer to what would in any other case be nice however acquainted top-down journey puzzle-solving. Your paint is persistent; you may all the time know the place you’ve got been and what you probably did there primarily based on the splatters you left behind, making Chicory’s world stressless and alluring to discover and fill in. It is value revisiting areas, too, as in typical top-down journey vogue you may have powers afterward that can unlock extra hidden areas you could not entry earlier than, every containing treasures or little subplots that add additional colour and persona to Chicory’s solid. What’s extra, characters will incessantly ask you to color or embellish issues for them: homes, donuts, logos, furnishings, and so forth. Some could have particular colour requests, however for probably the most half they only need the factor accomplished nevertheless you prefer it, and can react with delight to your work whether or not you are an auteur or newbie.
That is emblematic of all of Chicory: it isn’t a irritating or fast-paced sport (aside from just a few transient boss encounters). It is a considerate sport that wishes you to stroll together with it at a tempo that feels nice, with puzzles that require consideration however by no means pressure, sidequests in measured however not overwhelming quantities, and loads of enjoyable issues to find or come across that by no means really feel obligatory or guilt-inducing if you happen to miss them. It acknowledges that its viewers, me included, might imagine they’re objectively god-awful at artwork. However then it affords the instruments and encouragement to attempt anyway, and goes farther to problem these self-effacing beliefs by rejoicing in considerate effort with out judgment. Chicory does this in giant methods by means of story scenes, but additionally in small methods, like having its humorous and lovable NPCs pop up unexpectedly in areas you’ve got been by means of earlier than to admire the artwork you probably did there.
An Interactive Coloring E-book
No matter your talent degree, Chicory is stuffed with non-compulsory content material inviting you to mess around with its many built-in artwork instruments. An artwork academy subplot allows you to take artwork courses and try to recreate totally different items of artwork, along with your recreations later posted and admired by NPCs around the globe. When you’re feeling restricted by the four-color restriction per space, an NPC will finally offer you a brush model that allows you to customise your colours with full freedom. You too can design your personal brush model and clothes objects. There is a built-in GIF-maker that allows you to seize your portray course of. And when you can paint any space nevertheless you want, there are a number of locations arrange in particular methods to ask specific creativity, like an enormous clean constructing you are requested to tag, or a mountain viewpoint the place NPCs request you colour a sky for them to admire. Oh, and since colour is completely pointless for something aside from enjoyable aesthetic, Chicory is totally accessible to colorblind gamers.
Moreover, hardly ever do I encounter video games which have so expertly grasped the exact quantity of every little thing they should have. All of Chicory, from its size (10 to twenty hours, relying on how a lot you paint and discover) to its amount of sidequests and collectibles to the size and problem of its puzzles to the quantity of dialogue and discovery is good. Chicory by no means overstays its welcome, concludes all its moments in a passable means, and affords extra for individuals who want it with out guilting or pressuring you into pushing previous pure stopping factors. It’s spectacular in its exactness.
All this alone would make for an excellent sport. It is troublesome for me to clarify why Chicory affected me so personally with out moving into spoiler territory, however I believe it’s important to spotlight the story and character-centered explanation why it’s elevated past being only a well-made Zelda-like with a intelligent paint software. Chicory tells an earnest story about individuals who create issues, and the methods wherein being a creator impacts them. Although it is particularly about visible artwork, anybody who “makes” — whether or not that is artists of any faculty, or these like myself who fall extra into the territory of “craft” slightly than artwork — may simply discover that one thing private resonates with them right here.
Chicory is about characters who’re intrinsically wedded to their work, and who even have their work consistently on public show, topic to the critique of completely everybody on this planet always. Most of its residents are sort and inspiring of your efforts, recognizing that you simply’re in a tough and surprising state of affairs. However that does not cease lots of them from declaring the issues of previous wielders, and even expressing nervous doubt in your personal skills because the implications of your job for everybody else get scarier. And as Chicory herself factors out – and the story illustrates extra pointedly later – whereas the strain others placed on you to do your job nicely is irritating by itself, it may be nothing in comparison with the strain individuals placed on themselves. Particularly when they’re following within the footsteps of somebody they deeply admire.
There’s a whole lot of close-to-home reflection in Chicory on imposter syndrome, the connection between mentors and mentees, how psychological well being struggles notably impression creators, and the way we’re all so typically our personal worst critics. However there are additionally supporting characters with transient, sharp at instances, however all the time sort commentary on matters like grief, workaholism, and the struggles of reckoning with sexuality and identification. It’s always delicate and empathetic, however would not sugar-coat or current a tacky answer that magically erases the issues of all its protagonists, even in its conclusion.
And critically, its story is superbly suited to its gameplay, with its paint mechanics each subtly and overtly highlighting its themes at each second. As an illustration, Chicory has “boss battles” of a form, the place the painted darkness the protagonist faces not solely takes the specific types of these it represents, but additionally extra subtly displays their precise artwork types. In one other instance, the world remembers not simply the paint you throw on the atmosphere, however your extra deliberate creations as nicely, leading to emotional callbacks to your previous work while you go to characters you’ve got seen earlier than and are clued into what your artwork has meant to them. Chicory is always illustrating precisely what it’s basically about in a means that I really feel few video games handle to totally specific with out veering into the far excesses of both prolonged cutscenes or gameplay challenges that kill story momentum and feeling.
For all these causes, on prime of which I will add Lena Raine’s completely unbelievable soundtrack, I can enthusiastically advocate Chicory whether or not you take into account your self a “maker” or not. Chicory consistently asks its viewers for understanding and empathy towards these whose work they eat. I’ve had a whole lot of complicated emotions currently associated to seeing these I like most in my occupation as human beings with flaws in addition to virtues, and Chicory helped me course of these whereas encouraging me to offer them grace. However Chicory additionally desires me to offer that very same grace to myself. It was a reminder (with out resorting to the overdone self-care language these with this taste of hysteria have heard 100 instances earlier than) that I’m not outlined by my work regardless of my fixed insistence on treating myself as if I’m. I can and needs to be kinder to myself. I wanted to listen to that.