With its concept similar to the brilliant Ōkami (2006), Chicory: A Colourful Tale is all about painting and animals. Good, eh?
From American-Canadian indie developer Greg Lobanov, it’s also a loving homage to ’90s era Zelda games like A Link to the Past (1992). And Chicory is bloody glorious! Let’s get our colour palette and dive on it for it.
Chicory: A Colourful Tale has the NEED to Paint
Lobanov has previously worked on indie games like the Wandersong (2018) and instant classic Celeste (2018), for which he was a writer.
But he was the director for this 2021 release.
His games typically feature upbeat and bright worlds, but with unique takes on discussing mental health topics. Celeste, for example, is a game about overcoming anxiety, depression, and esteem issue problems.
Chicory: A Colourful Tale is focusses more on depression. You take control of a janitor dog turned paintbrush Wielder in the (fictional, believe it or not) world of Picnic.
You get to name the dog. We called her Sushi.
Sushi works for Chicory, a rabbit who’s a Wielder of the paintbrush. She’s a special being who brings colour to the land of Picnic.
However, one day the colour all disappears! Chicory falls into a deep depression. And it’s left to Sushi to take over the paintbrush and restore order to the land.
Chicory: A Colourful Tale is a top-down adventure game like the SNES era type RPGs (i.e. Zelda). But where its innovations kick in are with the paintbrush, which you cleverly use to manipulate your local environments to get around the world of Picnic.
Here’s the opening segment to the game as a taster.
Chicory: A Colourful Tale is certainly a fantastic video game.
As you wield the paintbrush, you can colour in the world around you. Engage with (usually) friendly locals, take some art classes, and lark about.
The game’s story supports its fun gameplay, as it’s a tale of imposter syndrome and self-doubt. If you’re a creative person, you’ll no doubt have struggled with that element from time to time. It’s natural and, frankly, we think healthy to keep yourself in check.
Otherwise you end up being a self-absorbed jackass convinced of your brilliance—some of the worst people to be around; life-sapping.
But self-doubt and self-deprecation can also lead to depressive moments and self-loathing, which is what Chicory addresses through the eponymous character.
An interesting life lesson, then, but also just a beautiful and charming little indie game. At around 5-10 hours of gameplay it’s not super long, but it’s very impressive and offers consistently inventive adventuring.
For example, at one point you get glow-in-the-dark paint and can light up dark, dank caverns to traverse.
Plus, you can deck your doggy out in all sorts of clothing items you find, like a beanie hat, Moon t-shirt etc. It’s little touches that so often bring games like this to life.
Chicory: A Colourful Tale is a highly enjoyable and life-affirming adventure. It’s a great indie title and worthy of cult classic status. Like the look of it?! It’s available on Steam, macOS, PS4/PS5, and the Nintendo Switch.
Lena Raine’s Fantabulous Chicory Soundtrack
American composer Lena Raine is responsible for the excellent soundtrack, her tunes adding lots of joy to the whole experience.
The soundtrack mixes mixes classical-sounding instruments.
Stylistically, the game also reminds us quite a lot of the brilliant Yoshi’s Island (1995). The graphics have that bulky, vibrant cartoonish feel. And Raine seems to channel the amazing soundtrack from Nintendo’s classic, too.
You can also hear occasional elements of Raine’s work on the outstanding Celeste game, which also features a fantastic soundtrack.
Frankly, we want her and Lobanov to keep working together for many years to come if it’s going to lead to creative peaks like this.
As we often like to point out, video game music adds a colossal amount to the experience. And here’s another fine example. Creative kudos!