The joy of colouring is not just for kids; it can help with mindfulness, benefit your mood, and relieve stress. With all these hidden benefits, the art of colouring has been steadily finding itself appealing to a bigger audience, especially with the help of digital platforms and software.
The worries about books and paintbrushes scattered all over the place or who has stolen your favourite crayon are now a far distant memory. Chicory: A Colorful Tale has taken this concept and has created a world where the only limit is your imagination.
The game is a top-down adventure that looks like it was torn straight out of a children’s colouring book. You take control of an adorable black and white drawn dog who is in the employment of Chicory, a well renowned and respected artist in the Picnic Province. Chicory is the current wielder of a magical brush that bestows colour and order to the realm. Suddenly, the colour of the world vanishes without a trace, with Chicory themselves now missing. The enthusiastic sketched out pup stumbles upon the precious paintbrush when looking for their missing master and takes it upon themselves to solve the mystery and restore colour to the land.
The world is an empty canvas, and it’s now your job to brighten it up. You’ll use your newly acquired skills to help the locals with various requests, solve puzzles, or manipulate the environments to progress further in your journey. For example, you can paint over trees to grow or shrink them to help you reach specific platforms, or you can paint the ground underneath so you can swim up or down vines.
The puzzles are engaging and will make you think for a moment, but nothing I encountered was too complicated. Of course, you can also paint for your own amusement, which will undoubtedly consume a lot of your time as there’s something therapeutic about sitting back and painting the world. You can use the magical brush to paint anything surrounding you in various ways, like drawing odd shapes, doodling out squiggly lines or going frantically mad across the page like an abstract art piece. If you hold down on the brush action, the paint will spread out like a moving tidal wave on the black and white shoreline to wash out the land with vibrant colours.
They say nothing lasts forever, and this is true for your fine works of art, as if there is anything you don’t like, you can use an eraser to remove unwanted colours. In no stretch of the imagination am I the next Picasso; however, this didn’t matter one bit as the brushing tools at your disposal will enable anyone’s inner artist to come out. After getting to grips with art class 101, you will have to complete several trials to increase your bond with the paintbrush.
As your bond increases with the magical brush, so will the abilities and techniques that come with it. There will also be many side-quest to complete, like finding lost kids, acquiring clothes for your pup to wear, and mail deliveries. This aspect allowed the RPG elements to really shine and perfectly entwine with the art characteristics of the game. You’ll often back-track on yourself to progress onto the next part of the storyline. Because of this, you’ll see your previous works engraved on the landscape as you return to specific locations, which is pretty cool to see.
To determine the name of our little pooch hero, you’re asked what your favourite food is. For myself, I went with the name waffles because, seriously, who doesn’t like waffles? This instantly made me feel connected with the little guy and added a level of personalisation from the get-go. Besides naming your canine freelance artist, there are many references to food within the world; you travel through several locations inspired by food, such as Apple Foothills, Simmer Springs and Supper Woods. The inhabitants are also delightedly named after foods like Clementine, Blackberry and Cardamom. The only downside is you’ll want to raid your kitchen after being exposed to so many food puns.
The narrative is one of the most compelling parts of the game. The cast of characters are wonderful to chat with, and our protagonist is incredibly endearing as he vividly shows his facial expressions in nearly every interaction. One of my favourite moments of the game is when our hero and Chicory do self-portraits for one another; the self-validation the pup gets from Chicory praising his art was genuinely heartwarming to see. However, it goes a lot deeper than this; what initially appears to be a cheerful colouring adventure quickly turns into a complex journey confronting themes such as mental health and anxiety. Furthermore, your four-legged protagonist is often faced with elements of imposter syndrome, all stemming from the fact that they feel like they didn’t earn the magical paintbrush but simply took it.
For anyone that has ever had to address self-doubt, these moments will resonate with you on a profound level. Like the themes and subjects tackled, the boss battles are dark and abstract, often represented by inky blackness filling the screen with menacing depictions. During the boss battles, you must avoid incoming attacks whilst waiting for the right opportunity to paint over the boss’s weak points. However, the difficulty of the boss fights is not too taxing whatsoever. You can take a couple of hits before you’re knocked out and return to the exact spot you were in, so it’s not much of a punishment. You can even go into the menu selection and adjust the difficulty level or bypass the boss battle altogether with the skip option.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale allows you to be as creative as you want to be. You can treat the experience like a Hakuna Matata motto and take your time painting like a colouring book. Equally, there are rewarding puzzles to solve with an enriching narrative that touches upon sensitive subject matters. Regardless of how you approach the game, there is plenty to be enjoyed, and it is perhaps a contender for the best indie game of the year.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale PS5, PS4 Review
- Overall - Must Play - 9/109/10
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a beautiful adventure where it's your job to splash life back into this colourless world with the help of your magical paintbrush. You may not be the next Van Gogh or Picasso, but you will have a great time exploring what this land has to offer. With an endearing protagonist and a fantastic cast of characters, this experience will make you profoundly rethink art and mental wellness.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using PS5.