There is something to be said about the simplicity of a game and how engaging such a simple mechanic can be to a player. Think about all the mobile games that receive such high praise for being about a simple tap of the screen. Take this mentality and add some decent aesthetics, the “well, I’ll just play one more level” lie we tell ourselves, and simple yet weirdly complex level design and you have Color Guardians.
Color Me Blue, Red and Yellow!
Color Guardians is, at its core, in the genre of a runner type game. It does not fit the infinite runner category because the levels are hand-crafted and each one of them has an end point. This gives the game an actual goal. You play as a cast of “Rayman”-esque characters who have the ability to change from three different colors (red, blue and yellow). These colors must coordinate with the color of the orbs you can pick up as you traverse the levels. If the color does not match, you do not get points for the orb. Sometimes there are environment pieces that need a particular color in order to move forward. If you do not match the color on these environment pieces, you have to restart from the previous checkpoint. I will admit, checkpoints do enhance this game tremendously. It would have been frustrating to get to the end of a level and have to restart over and over. All in all, the game is simple: run, change color, collect colored orbs, avoid environment traps, get to the goal with as many points as possible.
This wouldn’t be a videogame without a bit of frustration. A simple finger slip, some color confusion, or a misguided enemy can leave you squeezing your controller a little too tight. Fortunately, this was the point of the game and it spells it out for you from the start. There are 5 sets to explore with 10 levels plus a boss in each of the sets. Each set has a unique look and feel as well as some interesting environment mechanics to figure out. Once you play the levels enough, they become easy to get through and you will end up breezing through a majority of them leaving you with a sense of accomplishment. The developers knew what they were doing here.
The colors play well into each of the levels. Everything is surrounded by vibrant colors that you sometimes get caught looking at instead of focusing on the game. As you traverse the levels you wonder if there will ever be more colors added to your abilities but you will be thankful there isn’t.
You can bounce off of colored mushrooms, you can fly with parasols, speed boost through colored pads, mine carts that switch lanes when you switch colors, and even move across colored platforms that move with a color activation. All of these mechanics will be flying through your head that you will get frustrated at first, but once you figure it out you will be relieved and ready to move onto the next one.
Boss Fights? In a Runner? Hmmm
Boss fights are not too difficult once you understand what you need to do. Each boss level gets a little more troublesome with the mechanics changing ever so slightly. You will eventually figure everything out but it may take you a couple tries. Thank goodness for a checkpoint system. When you defeat the boss of each set, you unlock the ability to find collectables in each of the previous levels. There are even additional stages to unlock as you progress towards the end.
Not Everything Has a Wonderful Story
There is one huge kick against Color Guardians. The story leaves you feeling empty and disappointed. Indie titles generally have some unique storytelling attached to them but this is not the case here. In short, the bad guy has emptied the world of color and it is your job to save the world and restore it back to its colorful form. The writing in general is underdeveloped. It is something that you can easily ignore during the experience.
A Childish Experience Worthy of a Try
Color Guardians is not something new but it does bring something appealing to the table. At first glance this game seems like it was meant for kids yet it is difficult enough to stump even the best of any gamer.
This game came free with Playstation Plus and it was overlooked as just another indie title they threw in just to fill out that month’s list. You will probably continue to overlook this game but trust me when I say, if you want to kill a few hours and have a fun, quirky experience, this game is worth at least a single sit through.