Stories come in all shapes and sizes. Most games tell stories about love, loss, heartbreak, hope, or revenge. And while these may be important issues for some, I find myself a little disconnected. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced a lot of the feelings that many stories portray. However, Chicory: A Colorful Tale tells a deep story, touching on themes of mental health. If you missed this beautiful tale as you were too caught up with the E3 buzz, then I highly recommend you go back and play through every minute of this wonderful game.
“Chicory features a lot of painting, customising, and sensitive topics.”
Chicory: A Colorful Tale caught my attention during the LudoNarraCon, and I have been eagerly waiting to play it since. The game begins with your protagonist at the heart of where the colour stems from; Chicory’s tower. After a few tremors, the colour in Picnic evaporates. As you begin to inspect the problem, you notice Chicory — the rabbit the game is named after —is missing and the brush has been left behind. Picking up the brush kickstarts your journey to paint the world back together. The story, itself, is absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed playing through every minute that Greg Lobanov and the team have created.
When starting a new game, you are asked what your favourite food is. I chose Ramen and it stuck with me throughout the game. Naturally, as I came across every character, I tried to guess what their favourite food was. It’s safe to say, I was wrong every time (whose favourite food is Broccoli?!). This put a grin on my face whenever I encountered a new character in the game.
Chicory features a lot of painting, customising, and sensitive topics. While I’m far from an artist, it was relaxing to colour and customise every area in the game. It started to become a challenge for me to paint every area I came across so that I saw a burst of colour anytime I looked at the map. I also believe my drawing became better as I went on, and I could possibly sell my drawings online, too.
“There is also plenty of evil to defeat.”
Chicory is also centred around mental wellbeing. The biggest theme being imposter syndrome. Your character never fully believes they deserve the honour of being a brush wielder. They also feel they were never really chosen and, in turn, battle with inner peace. Chicory also feels like he was never going to be a successful wielder and ends up resenting the brush. However, it’s not just the main two characters that have worries, every character you meet along the way has their own issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of times where you’re in a position to help along the way.
Although it features a lot of deeper themes, the game still embraces its silly side by giving you plenty of customisation and humorous dialogue. As you traverse through the world of Picnic, you’ll find yourself trying on new outfits, finding new brush styles, locating lost kids, and, of course, picking up all the trash. There is also plenty of evil to defeat.
While the first battle will catch you completely by surprise, Chicory is designed perfectly, utilising the brush mechanics in tense situations. Each battle felt truly unique and was always centred around battling people you have already met. The only downside to the battles is that there wasn’t quite enough of them. I would have really enjoyed fighting a few more unique enemies before the end of the game.
“Fortunately, if you are stumped, you can just call your parents.”
The brush mechanics were also used to create puzzles throughout the world. Some plants can appear as obstacles but a slight touch of colour can trigger the plant to move. This definitely kept puzzle mechanics interesting as most new areas feature a new plant. The puzzles certainly weren’t overly difficult, but that lends to Chicory‘s theme of making the game enjoyable.
It’s not always clear to know where you are going in Chicory, but that’s a part of the fun. There is plenty to explore and, more importantly, paint. Fortunately, if you are stumped, there are phone booths scattered throughout Picnic, allowing you to call your Mum and Dad to ask for clues. Mum will give you a general hint, which isn’t too clear on what to do. However, your Dad, who is desperate to talk to you, will tell you exactly what do to and where to go, should you let him. This is an incredibly useful and special mechanic that more games should implement in their game design. This kept me immersed and I probably used it one too many times.
“The intriguing story and stunning gameplay mechanics make Chicory an absolute must-play.”
When I played the Chicory: A Colorful Tale demo at LudoNarraCon, I stated that I wasn’t sure I’d paint every area I came across. This turned out to be a lie as it didn’t take me long before I was addicted to colouring every landscape. Combing this with Lena Raine’s perfect soundtrack, every area is brought to life with an eccentric, catchy tune. I could get lost in every song, but there were definitely some that stood out. “Supper Woods” and “Probably Ancient Evil” were among my favourites.
While the best part about Chicory was the painting mechanic, it is also its downfall. I felt I could never truly colour something in properly due to the colour’s going outside of the lines. Sometimes I’d lock on to a house, and it would have to take me longer to ensure I didn’t paint outside the outline. I’m unsure if this was meant to spur a deeper meaning, but I was left feeling a little frustrated when my colours weren’t flush.
The intriguing story and stunning gameplay mechanics make Chicory an absolute must-play. You can pick the game up for less than 30 dollars (AUD) and if you haven’t played it, I highly recommend picking up this wholesome adventure about a dog janitor.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store.