Developer: Finn Morgan / Publisher: Puppy Punch Productions / Played On: PC / Price: $9.99 / ESRB: Not Yet Rated
Games today are measured by a lot of criteria: quality of visuals, clarity of sound, ease of control, implementation of multiplayer, and the list goes on. It can be hard to measure a game solely by its gameplay with all these other portions jumping for your attention. Seldom a game comes out that strips all these distractions away and focuses entirely on solid, addictive gameplay. Colour Bind is a new PC indie game available on Steam that keeps the focus on puzzle solving and bold visuals, for better or for worse.
Colour Bind is a physics-based puzzle game. You control a two-wheeled vehicle that is constantly affected by the force of gravity. Depending on what color your vehicle is at any given time determines in which direction and with how much force gravity pushes on you. Colored lasers change the hue of your vehicle, thus changing the gravity, so expect to roll across the ceiling, walls, and everything in-between. The game starts out easy, having you hop across a few platforms and reaching the goal, but things later get exceptionally hard as you have to maneuver through ever more difficult scenarios that have you changing colors, making pinpoint jumps, and restarting again and again.
You’re given the first handful of levels to learn the ropes (like jumping, changing color, spinning your wheels in the air to change direction, etc.) and after that you’re right in the middle of some of the hardest and most challenging physics puzzles you’ve ever played. When I say challenging, I mean challenging: I spent nearly 30 minutes trying to beat one level which required balancing on one wheel, and the level itself only took 25 seconds to complete! I should have expected this from a game that touts itself as being “early-90’s hard.”
There are 50 single player levels right off the bat, and with plenty of challenge on each, you’re bound to spend hours solving all of them. While these are excellent puzzles to wrap your brain around, Colour Bind is assuredly not for everyone. Only the dedicated gamers need apply, as anyone other than puzzle fans will find the game needlessly difficult and won’t enjoy the repetitive failures and occasionally humbling successes.
The 50 levels in single player are extended further by the addition of medals in each level, which you can achieve by completing the stage in under a specific amount of time. There are also two additional game modes (if you can call them that) that can be unlocked, but these don’t change the gameplay or puzzles; rather they move the camera to a set position and have you replay the same levels again. Since they don’t offer anything else worthwhile to the overall experience they can be largely looked over.
Colour Bind also supports multiplayer, having both players play using the same keyboard (one using WASD and one using the arrow keys). These levels are unique to multiplayer mode and offer even more intricate puzzles, as there are now two separate vehicles in each level. Rounding out the package is a level editor mode, which I don’t think I need to explain further. You can download other players’ homemade stages and extend the life of the game further.
Speaking of life of the game, I felt the title short lived. The gameplay is solid, but I lost interest in the game after the novelty of the physics wore off, and I was greatly frustrated by the final puzzles, which are nightmare-inducing tests of patience and accuracy. All the extra content and levels don’t offer much in terms of variety of gameplay. There a solid four to five hours of gameplay here (depending on skill level), but after you’ve played the stages once through there’s little incentive to play them again besides to collect medals and a better score. The promise of player-created content is nice, but these levels are usually hit or miss in terms of quality. In short, Colour Bind’s difficulty is one of its biggest draws and biggest drawbacks.
Colour Bind sports a simple visual presentation. The levels are all in space, with stars speckling the background. Walls and platforms are solid grey blocks. The vehicle you command is either red, blue, or green, and as mentioned before these colors determine the amount and direction of gravity affecting your tiny car. The visuals are as simplistic as they get, but it works for the game. It’s not about looking pretty; it’s about the puzzle solving. Strangely, there is still a feeling of elegance in the simplistic presentation; the way the vehicle pops out from the background really catches your eye.
The visuals are simple, and the controls are equally simple. Aside from moving there’s only one other button: jump. Again, depending on the current color of your vehicle and subsequently the amount of gravity pushing on you, a simple tap forward might send your car careening over the edge of a platform. Delicate presses of each button are a requirement and any false move will spell doom for your current endeavor. For as simple as they may seem, the controls get confusing when you are riding on walls and the ceiling. While upside-down forward becomes backward and vice versa, meaning you’ll need to adjust your fingers accordingly. Many puzzles require you to quickly navigate through a level, and switching colors on the fly and appropriately moving the vehicle is easier said than done. Though confusing, the controls feel very tight and responsive. Every mistake is your own fault and not that of the game itself, making you feel like quite the loser when you fail a level for the 50th time.
Colour Bind is a game that is certainly not for everyone. The gravity fluctuating gameplay combined with simple platforming make for devilishly difficult levels that only hardcore puzzle fans need apply for. A basic yet effective visual presentation makes the game standout while also playing a role in gameplay. However, a level editor and a couple of bonus modes don’t add much to the game and you can expect to be completely finished with the game in a matter of hours. Whether you enjoyed those hours depends on your liking of physics puzzles, patience, and a masochistic level of difficulty.
6.5 / 10