Review – Chicory: A Colorful Tale
We rarely see massive games being released during the summer, making this period of the year the best time for an indie darling to show up from out of nowhere and catch us off-guard. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is such a game. It appeared during one of E3 2021’s dozens of conferences, being introduced to the world by none other than Shu-Hei Yoshida himself, only to show up in stores the very same day. Shockingly, a lot of people to already consider it one of the best games of the year. Well, I had to give this one a shot and see what all the fuss was about.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a story starring a janitor named after your favorite food (nice Earthbound reference, by the way). He takes the mantle of the world’s “wielder”, an artist responsible for filling the world with color, after the previous person in charge, a bunny called Chicory, decided not to go on with her job. At first, you’re actually just a kid pretending to be a hero, not even being recognized as a wielder by your peers or local populace. However, as time goes on the story becomes a lot more engrossing, with layers upon layers of subplots, character development, emotions, and the occasional dumb joke, because we’re only human after all.
The game itself starts off pretty slowly. The first chapter mostly revolves around meeting the people living in a nearby town, learning how to handle the game’s unique control scheme, and solving some of their color-related issues. The world has suddenly lost all of its color and it’s up to you to solve this problem. I won’t lie, at first I just wasn’t “getting” Chicory. It was cute as heck, but its gameplay was quite boring. It took reaching a pivotal moment at the end of the first level for me to finally appreciate the game for what it actually is: a feel-good hit that mixes elements from Animal Crossing, Undertale, and, believe it or not, The Legend of Zelda. Granted, in a much simplified and borderline dangerless manner, but the point stands.
The control scheme is easily Chicory‘s highlight. While moving with the left stick, you have free control of your magical paintbrush with either the right stick or the DualSense’s touchpad. The game does one hell of job trying to emulate the feeling of playing a proper mouse and keyboard game with a controller, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the developers for ALMOST achieving that. It certainly works and it’s more comfortable that you would imagine, but it was clearly meant to be played on a PC. You just don’t have the same drawing and painting precision with an analog stick (or the ultra-sensitive touchpad) as you would get with a mouse.
Despite being the single friendliest game I’ve played in 2021 as a whole (yes, even more than DC Super Hero Girls), Chicory: A Colorful Tale features some tough puzzle solving, dungeon exploration, and a handful of boss battles that are way more difficult and tense than the rest of the game. From out of nowhere, you’ll stop coloring a rat’s house to cheer it up, to fighting some macabre bosses which move around the arena like a motorcycle with a nitrous boost. Thankfully, these moments are also the ones which feature the game’s best background tunes.
Its art style is absolutely delightful. I thought that having to deal with a completely black-and-white world at first would be annoying, but that ended up being the complete opposite. Each new tile I’d visit felt like a page of a coloring book, waiting for me to fill it up with my own creativity. Sadly, the game doesn’t give you a large color palette, usually giving you four colors per region, severely limiting what you can do in each map.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a wonderful game and I had a great time playing it on the PS5. It actually takes advantage of the DualSense in ways very few games do, be them AAA or not. It’s colorful, charming, and above anything else, stupidly creative. However, I would actually recommend grabbing it on PC if possible, only because its gameplay loop and controls, while very responsive on the PS5, are tailor-made for a mouse and keyboard. With that being said, no matter where you decide to play it, this is a feel-good indie that will leave you with a smile.
Chicory‘s art style is simple, but charming and unique. I like the fact you can paint the entirety of the map if you so choose, but I wish we had a wider color palette at our disposal.
The DualSense does wonders trying to emulate a “mouse and keyboard” control scheme, but you can clearly sense that Chicory is best enjoyed on a PC.
The soundtrack is calm, serene, and quite simple whenever you’re not in a tense situation. If you do find yourself in a dungeon or occasional boss battle however, the music becomes beyond epic.
Fun Factor: 8.5
It starts off quite slowly, but the story and gameplay become more and more interesting with time. Characters are intriguing, puzzles are creative, and the overall vibe of the game is just way too adorable and welcoming.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is available now on PS4, PS5, and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Chicory: A Colorful Tale was provided by the publisher.