The modern age of gaming is about the graphics, the sound, and level progression multiplayer. However, platformers strive to be powerful in their own simplicity, taking rustic concepts of yore then adding innovative hooks and twists for the present day. Colour Bind removes glossy graphics and gloomy tales for some hardcore puzzling. For better or worse, gravity is put on its own (literally) head.
You control a two wheeled locomotive that traverses through space fighting the laws of physics. The draw of the game is navigating an area to reach a rotating prism while clearing gravity based obstacles. That’s just on the surface, but the real obstacle is the locomotive itself. The controls are hit or miss, which is nightmarish for a game about absolute precision. You use the WASD keys to move left or right and gain momentum, to “embiggen” the tires to perform a bouncy jump, and then brake to halt the headway. The locomotive has no front or tail, rotating from what was the left/right tire to the right/left is equal parts neat and downright bonkers to know where the hell it will land. Flipping uncontrollably between platforms, you have no idea what tire is spinning or causing you to spastically spin 360 degrees through the air.
The level design in Colour Bind is deceiving. I can see the thought process and the direction I need to go in, but I was usually so busy fighting the controls and the terrain that make getting to my destination impossible. One instance, I had to use zero gravity to travel down a curve and onto another curve. The trouble was no matter how much I tried to adjust, it was arbitrary on whether I would bounce off a corner or roll onto the next curve. Another puzzle had me balance on one wheel and touch a laser to near perfect balance on top of tapping two buttons and pleading to my computer screen that it will stay upright.
One early thrill for Colour Bind is the way you climb the grey environment using the accumulated speed, inflating the tires to bounce upward or downward across frictionless platforms. However, momentum is hard to pull off. On a slope, the locomotive acts like a revved up motorcycle stuck with a wheelie to later get caught in a gravitational updraft. The beacons of light are the time based levels, where convoluted jumps are replaced with timing light leaps toward completion. Here, the difficulty of controlling the locomotive is simmered down and more focused on avoiding gravity changing lasers.
For its browser-based and rudimentary appearance, Finn Morgan’s Colour Bind is subtlety a good looking game. The various shades of grey surrounded by the spacious backdrop strike out as a contrast to the darkness. The sparse palette of colors caused levels to stand out from the limitation and not be referred to as “grey environment #23″. Even the snowflake effect in the foreground is a nice abstract adds another layer to the minimalistic look. The color made the 2D adventure of Colour Bind unique and simple, ranging from the vibrant lime greens, cherry reds, navy blues and all their color combinations.
The three colors are not just an integral piece of the visuals in Colour Bind, but are a way to display their own gravity and mass as objects with that specific color in a stage determines the effect they will have. Direction of a gravitational pull for the color could be any sort of degree and mass is affected by the length of the arrow. Lasers were part of the majority of the 50 single player and 20 multiplayer levels and held the ability to change object’s hue (and gravity) with a passing. The real meat of the game is the abundant amount of times manually hitting the redo key in frustration, snagging around an eight hour completion with a size-able chunk of levels merely under a minute experiences.
Multiplayer in Colour Bind is the same thing you would expect from the main attraction, splitting two users across the map and uniting to solve puzzles meant for two people. Local co-op adds another 20 levels and manages to divert the painful endeavor with a friend. Lastly, Colour Bind has a level editing system, which looks promising, but turns out to be another lesson in frustration…which is a good way to actually describe Colour Bind as a whole.
Some moments you’re blazing through well designed levels and others make you want to immediately turn the game off. Suffice to say, when you’re fighting controls as you’re fighting the terrain, and that’s not a good sign. Colour Bind is currently at $9.99 for Steam ($7.99 before October 1). Until, you know, the ridiculous holiday Steam sales…