By Phil Schipper / November 22nd, 2013
|Title: Colour Bind
Publisher: Puppy Punch Productions
Developer: Finn Morgan
Release Date: September 24, 2012
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Age Rating: N/A
Since the dawn of platforming games, the ability to mess with gravity has been a staple for at least one level in many games of the genre. Finding the right direction and moving properly within it could be disconcerting for the player, and really shake things up. Oftentimes, enemies and objects weren’t affected by the shift, leading to two inconsistent directions for gravity. But… what happens when there are three?
In Colour Bind, this is exactly what you get. Other than platforms that have permanent positions, all objects, including the player, have a certain color–red, blue, or green. In each stage, the colors are assigned a direction and a strength of gravity. Sound confusing? It’s not, once you get the hang of it. You’ll know, for example, if you’re a red object and what direction that’ll send you to.
Actually applying that information to get to each stage’s goal can be hard, though. The game has a very precise physics engine, and you have to consider both of your car’s wheels in order to make jumps. The tutorial tells you that you press the D key to turn the wheels clockwise, A to turn them counterclockwise, S to brake, and W to “embiggen your wheels.”
Why can’t it just say left, right, and jump? Well, if gravity is upside down, for instance, the directions will seem reversed. Driving on a slant makes things even more complex, but if you can manage to remember things as clockwise and counterclockwise, you’ll spend a lot less time going backwards.
The “embiggen wheels” action is even more precise. While rolling around you’re likely to find yourself doing a wheelie, and that’s bad for jumping–if you try, your back wheel will just launch off the ground by itself, sending you flipping rapidly forward through the air with no height at all. The only way to get a high and long jump is by having both wheels firmly on the ground.
Okay. So now we get the basic concept and controls. Now what? Well, there are also plenty of buttons and other objects that can change the gravity of any or all of the colors. Passing an object, like the player, through a colored laser will change that object to that color. In other words, there are tons of ways to change the gravity of any individual object. Gaining access to these ways tends to be the hard part.
Confused yet? I was. There is a lot to think about in every level of Colour Bind, and as you go on it continues to introduce more and more new things to keep track of. There are only 50 stages in the main single-player game, each of which shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, but by level 30 I was ready to stop out of sheer frustration. Retrying each level over and over turned that into about 10 hours of play. This is all you have to do, too, because the game has no story at all.
Making exact jumps into lasers so you can land on the underside of a platform you were just on is bad enough without the rest of the level to deal with every time. Besides this heavy platforming emphasis, though, other stages can be anything from a logic puzzle, to a race against time, to a precise act of balancing on top of a rolling ball. Or trying to balance the car vertically across a surface.
In other words, this game is for players who are really, really good. Probably better than me, as I looked up many tips and still had a tough time finishing even the normal single-player mode. The player’s only saving grace is the fact that you start off with 5 stages available and unlock one every time you finish a new stage. In other words, throughout the game you always have 5 to choose from in order to progress. Being able to skip up to 4 stages is a lifesaver as you go on, because like I said, some of them seem impossible.
At the same time, the game kind of seems to expect that just finishing these levels is only the beginning for players. Nearly every stage has an achievement tied to it for finding some clever alternate way of beating it (I haven’t gotten a single one) and getting fast times awards you with medals. Not only that, but it saves replays of your best times for every stage and keeps world leaderboards for each. This is to say nothing of the secret stages, or the two-player co-op mode. The latter is a split screen challenge on one keyboard–not a lot of room overall.
The game’s graphics and sounds are in a minimal style that do their job efficiently while responding to the player. The starry background, for example, can scroll at light-speed or stop entirely based on your activity. And depending on your car’s color, the music track will change slightly. You may not even notice that, though, because it’s all laid very subtly on top of a constant, calm beat that continues to play from the title screen through every stage you play. At least that much is simple about this game, since nothing else is.
In essence, Colour Bind is a game designed for those who would call themselves experts of the physics platformer genre. Not only is it very difficult as a rule, but it always seems to have a higher challenge for players to complete. Gamers who thirst for this kind of challenge might find it worth the $10 price tag. If you consider yourself an average player or don’t have a lot of experience with this type of game, though, it’s more likely to lead to a rage quit than anything else. Personally, I’m among the type that’s glad that it’s over.
Review copy supplied by publisher.