[Review] Colour Bind
Physics-based shooters, platformers, and puzzle games seem to be the bread-and-butter of the indie market, right alongside retro throwbacks. If there’s at least one other thing that distinguishes them, though, it’s how darn colorful they are. Whether it’s a simplistic ZX Spectrum palette as employed in games like VVVVVV or Bit.Trip BEAT, or a vibrantly detailed masterpiece like Braid, a lot of thought and effort is put into the presentation of these games. Sometimes, though, the looks of a game are made so minimal and simplistic that they literally are nothing more than a game mechanic. In the case of Colour Bind, this ends up creating an innovative spin on a common indie game staple, but does the experience transcend the simple visuals?
In short, yes it does. Not by a whole lot, but that just depends on how far you’re willing to go.
Colour Bind is a very simple game that’s difficult to master. In it, you are a two-wheel buggy that can move about with the WASD layout or arrow keys. A (<) and D (>) move the buggy’s wheels either counterclockwise or clockwise, respectively; the S (Down) key brakes, and the W (Up) key causes your tires to inflate and gift you a bounce (what the game calls “embiggen”, which would be a neat trick for my [redacted]). Your buggy is very sensitive to changes in the terrain, meaning you can upend it easily by spinning your wheels too fast up or down a slope. In cases where you have to execute platforming-style jumps, you will want to brake first to get your bearings before embiggening your way across a gap or two; many times it’s wise to accelerate more slowly than it is to mash a direction and not let go, and before you know it, it’ll be necessary. Most of the time you’ll probably feel like an inflatable dumbell in a bounce house with a little engine that could.
The game itself is a gauntlet of successively unlockable stages. The more you play, the more you keep playing. I got to level 20 before I decided to give it a rest, but it wasn’t so much from frustration as it was from having my fill for the day, and that’s probably the best way to play this game. Bottom line, in order to really enjoy this game, you have to relax and have a healthy but modest amount of patience. Don’t get me wrong, this game isn’t a huge dick to you; it’s definitely here to show you a good time. You just shouldn’t feel like you have to rush through this game to get to the end. For all you know, there isn’t one. It could be as endless as the triple-parallax 2D space that bounds each stage, so it’s not useful at all to get frustrated over your failures. If you’re stumped, just hit E to pan out and get a view of the whole stage, or hit F to start the stage over if you get stuck. It’s even nice enough to tell you when you’re stuck by use of a color-coded “F” logo on the surface you land on.
Speaking of colors, that’s the game’s most important feature. You know how gravity is invisible to all but migratory birds? Well, this game decides to make gravity distinguishable by all of three colors, each representing either up, down, left, or right: Red, Blue, and Green. So instead of just having a pile of boxes just fall down all over itself, it can fall left or up and cause another set of boxes to fall right or down. Of course, Colour Bind throws more than just a pile of boxes at you to manipulate: you’ve got balls, bridges, columns, confetti, and even your buggy that can be color-coded to adapt to each challenge.
The way the game leverages these two sets of elements–gravitational direction and color–is through switches and lasers. Switches will either open a door or change which colors fall in which direction, while lasers paint an object a given color. Already, an myriad of possibilities should be exploding in your head right now, but the only way to appreciate the complexity is to play the game for yourselves. Remember how I said the game may as well be a neverending gauntlet? Well, that’s probably not true, but you can bolster the illusion with your friends using the level editor that comes with the game. If you’re thinking that maybe this is too complicated a game to want to design stages for, then you’re overestimating the simplicity of its components. It takes a bit of imagination, but you’re no longer limited by the conventional gravity we’ve all gotten used to in videogames.
In conclusion, is Colour Bind a fun game? Yes. I like it. It’s not the most thrilling game, but it’s not trying to be. Instead, it’s a very relaxing game that challenges your coordination, your control, and to a reasonable degree, your patience. The more patient you are with yourself, the more rewarding the game is, and it doesn’t ask for much but a good chunk of free time. So pull up a comfy chair to kick back in, have the keyboard on your lap, and laugh at yourself as you make a false move that sends you tumbling into space.