Chicory: A Colorful Tale Blends Puzzle Games and SHMUPs

Published: December 27, 2019 1:00 PM /

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Chicory: A Colorful Tale crystal cave

When I was younger, I played the heck out of Mario Paint. This was a game that involved a mouse attachment for the SNES and let you make art, music, and fight against enemies in crazy battles. Now, Chicory: A Colorful Tale seems to be embodying much of that same spirit.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale was one of several games that released a first-look demo during The Game Festival, a special event on Steam created in conjunction with The Game Awards. I hopped into Chicory to see what it was all about.

A Legend in the Making

The first few moments of Chicory: A Colorful Tale reveal a bright and colorful world. There is a legendary hero in this world who wields a magic brush... and you are not that hero. You are, instead, that hero's janitor.

Unfortunately for the world, something happens and all of the color in the world is sucked away. The hero of legend — the titular Chicory — has left their magical brush behind, and so you pick it up.

Your first few moments can be (and likely are) spent playing with this new brush. The entire world is now black and white, so it's up to you to add a little color if you wish. I messed around with it a bit, but I was anxious to see if this game was more than an interactive MS Paint and moved on.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale Demo - Helping Out

Lending a Helping Hand

Upon exiting the tower, you have the option to explore the world a little bit. I messed around with the paintbrush some more but eventually went in search of other people.

There are more than a few people in the villages, one of whom is a former wielder of the brush. Some of these early quests were quite simple — people were rather upset that there wasn't any color on their homes, so you'd do them a solid by painting things up nicely and solving the problem. This element of the game reminded me of Dark Cloud, one of my favorite titles of the PS2 era and I thought it was an especially nice touch.

Once you're finished chatting with the locals, you'll find yourself heading Eastward in search of a former wielder of the brush. Unfortunately, there are a fair few obstacles in the way; this is where the game's puzzle mechanics are introduced.

The Game Festival demo was only about 30 minutes long, so I imagine that this didn't explore everything in depth. That said, there were basically two kinds of objects: those that activated when painted, and those that deactivated when painted. You might paint a tree to make it shrink, walk through it, head up a hill, erase the paint, and walk over the top of the tree you just passed through. I can't say for sure what the finished product will be like, but I imagine that the various colors will have different effects on objects later on in the game.

After traveling through the woods for some time, I found myself assailed by a dark force and headed down into some caves. It was then that this super-chill game took a rather dark turn.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale Demo - Spooky Darkness
The darkness approaches, blighting an otherwise colorful land.

SHMUP Out of Nowhere

Mario Paint veterans like myself will remember that stupid fly-swatter game with a mix of nostalgia and white-hot rage. Chicory: A Colorful Tale seems to be going for just that with its combat.

I only faced a single enemy, and this enemy appeared to be a boss. I dodged wave after wave of projectiles in a style, not unlike a SHMUP ("shoot 'em up") game. It certainly felt a little out of place at first, but I can see how it makes sense in the world.

One criticism I have with The Game Festival demo is that I more or less jumped straight into a boss fight. There was no lead up with fighting smaller, weaker enemies — you're just suddenly in a cave, fighting for your life against this monstrosity. While I'm not necessarily against throwing the player in the deep end, I think that more casual folks might be better served by some lighter combat before fighting a boss that might be too challenging for them.

After I slew the boss by waggling my paintbrush at it and dodging death, the lovely demo from The Game Festival came to an end all too soon.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale Demo - Painting
You really can paint anywhere.

What's in Store for Chicory: A Colorful Tale?

From what I can gather so far, the combat in Chicory: A Colorful Tale will probably not be the main focus of the game. The Steam Store page promises that there will be collectible clothes, plants, and furniture to let you further decorate the world to fit your desires, so it seems like you'll really be able to step things up if you want to make the world look nice.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale seems like an intriguing game that will be well worth exploring. If you missed The Game Festival demo, you'll be able to try it out for yourself sometime in "202X".

TechRaptor conducted our preview of Chicory: A Colorful Tale on PC via a demo freely downloaded from Steam as part of The Game Festival.

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A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
| Senior Writer

One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N

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Greg Lobanov
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