Color Symphony is a free Steam platformer with an interesting color-changing mechanic, but tough as nails. If you have one hour of free time, try it out.
|Genre||2D Platformer, Puzzle, Indie|
|Free Download||Download from Steam.|
* Previously published at Indie GAGA *
Color Symphony is a puzzle platformer available to only Windows users via Steam. You probably have never heard of it, but it is a free downloadable game. So why am I reviewing this one if it seems too obscure?
Well, because its sequel came out recently, so I figured it’s appropriate that I examine the original game first before I talk about the second. So let’s take a quick minute for this one.
To begin with, the game does not have a native gamepad support and you cannot customize the keys on the keyboard. While this is a shame, it is not a major detractor for a very short game so I won’t make too much of a big deal about it.
Instead, you use the arrow keys to move while using either the Up Arrow or the Space Bar will allow you to jump and double-jump. The [Z] [X] [C] keys change the color of the level’s background. The [V] key activates a special ability.
The gameplay is very simple. You can move and jump with your character like most platformers. However, you also have the ability to change the background color of the level with those three keys I mentioned. Doing so will cause environments and hazards of a different color to appear in plain sight. However, any of those things that has the same color as the background will temporarily cease to exist.
In some cases, you might encounter hazards of all colors in the same area. This is where you can activate your special ability, indicated by the orange meter at the bottom of the screen. Using it will allow you to have environments and hazards stay out of existence for a certain amount of time when you switch colors (I hope this explanation makes sense; otherwise, you need to play the game to see what I mean.)
You have a health meter that regenerates when you stand still over time, though there is no real consequence if that health meter reaches 0. All of the levels in this game are short, so dying is just a minor inconvenience.
There are some major flaws though. The biggest one, for me, is the knockback effect. If you ever play old platformer games like the Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden trilogy for the NES, you will know what I mean. Whenever an enemy hits you, it pushes you back and you receive temporary invincibility to recuperate yourself. While this is a relatively commonplace flaw, I haven’t experienced a knockback this bad since playing this one Famicom game called Holy Diver. You basically float back after being hit by a hazard, covering a rather large distance from just taking damage. This can result in a lot of cheap deaths, with the crow enemies being the biggest culprits.
So I can either get pecked at the head or change the background color to yellow and drop to my death. Egh, dammit…
The other big flaw is that sometimes whenever you change the background color, a piece of the environment or an enemy will spawn right on top of you. If it’s a piece of the environment, this immediately kills you. While this does add to a frustration factor, I can’t really say if it’s the fault of the level designs. Because you can switch colors ever so willingly, this is always going to be a danger and it discourages from using this ability too much. It is the very nature of the gameplay itself and there is probably no way to go around this, so I think this is something the player really has to remember in order to beat the game.
But then it becomes a real test of reflexes when saw blades pop out of the air in a random color. This is where the game’s trial and error nature really comes out, because you usually don’t see them coming.
There is nothing much else beyond this gameplay, but it is quite satisfying to complete each level with these simple mechanics. The game is really a test of reflexes more than anything, which is what I like about it.
The hazards can differ. There are spikes, saw blades, crows, Cerberus-looking creatures, and mutant seaweed. Yeeeeah, I am not completely sure why these things exist in this game, but I try to consult the storyline to get a little bit of context.
And that didn’t work.
The story is pretty easy to miss. Basically, you’re a man who somewhat resembles Carmen Sandiego and you’re trapped in a mysterious, empty world. Apparently, some close friends to this man betrayed him and tossed him into this little purgatory. We don’t know why they did that. So it’s up to this man to escape the world and seek his vengeance.
And that’s about it. Occasionally, you find text around levels that try to drop hints to the story.
I’m okay with this type of storytelling, but these text passages leave so little context that you can’t really grasp anything from what they’re trying to tell you. Maybe it’s meant to be some sort of free verse poetry, but for the life of me I can’t make anything out of these passages.
The graphics are alright. I like how the main character and the enemies are represented by silhouettes while the rest of the world looks like pencil sketches. This minimalist art style is somewhat reminiscent of another indie game called Gunman Clive, which uses a similar pencil sketch art style to portray its world. It’s pretty neat and gives this world a unique, sullen appearance.
While I do like the one pleasant track that plays throughout the game, it does get old after listening to its 50th loop. Not really painful but it does kinda make me want to turn down the volume after a while.
But for what it’s worth, this is still a reasonably fun game to spend over an hour on. Seeing how it IS free, I can’t complain too much about it. And of course, I am looking forward to play the sequel.
- The color-changing mechanic adds an interesting depth to the level designs.
- The silhouettes and pencil sketch artwork are interesting to look at.
- The one track for this game fits the sullen mood of the environments.
- The knockback effect after getting hit will result in many cheap deaths.
- It can be hard to predict where parts of the environment and enemies are, which may result in dying instantly.
- The story mentions far too little to give a coherent narrative.