You wake up in the middle of the night, convinced you have a vivid nightmare and your brain is playing tricks on you. But when you check your phone, you realize you have the phone in your hand and you’re not asleep. You’re actually in a dream. A surreal one, where you are an android in a melancholic city of forgotten dreams, where you are going to have an adventure that will change your life forever.
In 2013, I began to play the game Chicory: A Colorful Tale on my iPad. I had never played an RPG before, and despite the game being fairly short, I found I got sucked into the story and had to keep playing. In the end, I enjoyed myself so much that I contacted the author to ask about making a PC game. Months later, I can happily say that I am now one of the proud owners of Chicory on Steam.
Players of Nea are in for a treat with Chicory, the colourful and addictive puzzle game, which offers an interesting new twist on the traditional drop-in-drop-out concept. The game begins with a vertical flow of 16 squares and you must connect these to make a horizontal row of 16. This will then create a new, single line of 16 squares. It’s like a backwards version of a domino chain. On the way through each level, you’ll encounter squares with flowers and other objects in them. Flowers will take you back to the previous level, but other objects may take you to the next level or a place where you can build a new line of 16.
The big games rarely come out in the summer. So this time of year is the best time for an independent game to come out of nowhere and surprise us. Chicory: A colorful fairy tale is such a game. The game appeared at one of the dozens of E3 2021 conferences, where it was introduced to the world by none other than Shu-Hei Yoshida himself, and was in stores the same day. Surprisingly, it is already considered by many to be one of the best games of the year. Well, I had to see what all the hype was about.
If you have enough time, skill and patience, you can turn an old black and white card into a colourful decoration. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a story with a janitor named after your favorite food (a nice reference to Earthbound, by the way). He takes on the role of Master of the World, the artist who must fill the world with color after the previous person in charge, a rabbit named Chikori, decided not to continue his work. In the beginning, you’re just a kid pretending to be a hero who won’t be recognized by his peers or the locals. However, as time goes on, the story becomes much more exciting, with lots of subplots, character development, emotions and lame jokes, because after all, we’re only human.
The game itself starts off slow enough. The first chapter is mainly devoted to getting to know the inhabitants of the neighboring town, learning the game’s unique operating system, and solving some color-related problems. The world has suddenly lost all its colors, and it’s up to you to solve this problem. I’m not going to lie, at first I didn’t understand chicory. She was really cute, but her acting was pretty boring. It wasn’t until I reached the tipping point at the end of the first level that I finally appreciated the game for what it really is: a hit that combines elements of Animal Crossing, Undertale and, believe it or not, The Legend of Zelda. Of course, in a much simpler and practically non-threatening way, but the idea remains the same.
Fucking Millennials… The control system is by far Chicory’s strongest point. While moving with the left stick, you can freely control your magic brush with the right stick or the DualSense touchpad. The game has made a damn good attempt to mimic the gaming experience on a controller as much as it does on a mouse and keyboard, and I have nothing but the deepest respect for the developers for almost managing to do that. The game works and is more user-friendly than you might expect, but it’s clearly meant to be played on a PC. An analogue stick (or a very sensitive touchpad) does not offer the same precision in drawing and painting as a mouse. Despite being the most user-friendly game I’ve played in 2021 (yes, even more so than DC Super Hero Girls), Chicory: A Colorful Tale features challenging puzzles, dungeon exploration, and some boss battles that are much harder and more intense than the rest of the game.
Whether it’s a rat that pops up out of nowhere and you have to paint it to comfort it, or battles with gruesome bosses that move through the arena like a nitro engine. Fortunately, it’s during these moments that we hear the game’s best background music. His drawing style is just charming. At first I thought I would be dealing with a completely black and white world, but it turned out to be just the opposite. Each new tile I visited was like a coloring page waiting for me to fill it with my own creativity. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t give you a large color palette, mainly four colors per region, which severely limits your options on each map.
These boss fights are intense and quite difficult. They don’t belong in a game like Chicory. But they’re still great. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a great game, and I enjoyed playing it on the PS5. It really uses DualSense in a way that very few games do, AAA or not. It is colourful, charming and, above all, stupidly creative. However, I would recommend playing the game on PC if possible, simply because the gameplay and controls, while responsive on the PS5, are designed specifically for mouse and keyboard. That said, no matter where you choose to play this game, it’s a good-natured indie game that will make you smile.
|Chicory’s artistic style is simple, yet charming and unique. I like that you can paint the entire card if you want, but I would have liked a larger palette of colors to choose from.
|DualSense does wonders by trying to mimic mouse and keyboard controls, but it clearly feels like Chicory is best played on a PC.
|The soundtrack is calm, serene and simple enough when you’re not in a tense situation. But when you’re in a dungeon or in a random boss fight, the music just gets epic.
|The beginning is rather slow, but as time passes, the story and gameplay become more and more interesting. The characters are intriguing, the puzzles are creative, and the overall atmosphere of the game is just too charming and inviting.
|Final decision: 8.5
Chicory: This colorful fairy tale is already available on PS4, PS5 and PC. Tested on PS5. A copy of Cicory: A Colorful Tale was provided by the publisher.
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