Though the days of point-and-click adventure games have long since passed, being abandoned in lieu of sleek graphics, relentless action, and other typical qualities of large-scale games, in the indie market, they are quite alive and thriving, if not in a different form. Coloropus is one such variety of adventure game, and though it stumbles a bit along the way, the peculiar blend of color puzzles, adventuring, and mouse-based movement makes for a charming game that is well worth your money.
Coloropus is an “adventure puzzle game” developed by Pigsels, a company located in the former Eastern Bloc of the USSR. Being the first such game from the developer, it wordlessly tells the tale of an undersea romance between two octopuses, presented as a series of images detailing their journeys. The actual adventure begins when the female octopus is captured and thrown into a bottle by a looming human hand. From here, you assume the role of the male octopus, attempting to rescue her through exploration and puzzle-solving.
It is this exploration that drives a large portion of the game, and perhaps rightfully so, being an adventure game. Though it feels at times to be a little aimless, oddly enough, it does not seem to be unproductive as a subtle sense of satisfaction rises out of discovering new areas and puzzles on your own intuition. The self-directed exploration also serves a greater purpose too, as there are various collectibles that result in greater strengths and abilities for your cutesy little octopus. Some are easy to acquire, others, not so much. Regardless, progress in the game is not impossible; if you find yourself stuck at any point, a hint system is available that shows you what to do, as opposed to simply telling.
Based on the number and variety of puzzles in the game, there is no small chance that you might get stuck eventually, either. Puzzles are normally oriented around use of color, and various applications thereof. Through adventuring, you are gently introduced to various elements of the environment, and while some of them may require greater leaps of logic to overcome, for the most part, it does not result in a sense of frustration or tedium.
The single frustrating element in the game stems from the bosses, appearing in the later stages of the game. As with any adventure game, the sections preceding introduce you to elements and techniques that are applied during boss fights. Though well-designed, occasionally wonky controls lead to increasingly frustrating encounters where you can’t leave the screen fast enough to avoid being caught in a whirlpool technique or place colorful spiked ammunition precisely enough to be launched upwards. Eventually, one may learn to work within the confines of the purely mouse-based controls, but the cracks in the otherwise veneer surface can and will show at times.
These frustrations can and likely will result in the miniature octopus’s death, it also working off of a unique mechanic. There is a simplified morality system within the game, where you gain points for planting color “seeds,” who then sprout underwater plants, allowing you to gather more color, and losing points for detaching elements of the environment from the walls, making a distinctive popping noise. Upon death, depending on which side you fall on the scale, you are then sent to an entirely different puzzle world where good octopuses live in a bright, white underwater heaven, and bad octopuses are sent to a menacing and fiery underworld. Solving these puzzles allows you to resume the game at specifically designed points, far enough from danger, but not too far where it can take a while to get back to your original location.
In this unique death system, along with exploration, the game reveals its intertwined relationship of the art and the music. In the upper, lighter half of the game world, the music is equally light and cheery, appearing to be designed to soothe and relax the player, achieving this goal wonderfully. In the darker, lower half of the map, the music takes on a more brooding tone, though in either case, it never becomes too obtrusive. The end result is a peculiarly cartoony art style, the edges of which are softened by the music. Even with the frustrations mentioned above, I found the game, on the whole, to be a peaceful experience.
There was, however, an exceedingly rare bug that I encountered. Upon defeating the third boss, many players will destroy the pink rock formation to expedite travel between areas. With puffer fish also in the cavern, I managed to work my way on top of one of the fish, trapping me between the ceiling and the fish below. Thanks to Eugene Wolfson, one of the game’s developers, he fixed the error in my save file and has promised that this will be fixed in the first patch for the game.
Is It Worth Your Money?
Overall, the experience provided by Coloropus ends up being a controlled, ambient environment that does not hesitate to provide the player with challenges, but also make success possible as well. Though it is a tad on the short side, with hints at a sequel in the game’s ending, Coloropus is certainly worth the $10 required to pick it up.
Coloropus Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 5 Hours
- Widescreen Support – Limited. Running in 1366×786 on a 1920×1080 display, resulting in a black box on the edges.
- 5.1 Audio – No
- Bugs/crashes encountered: Yes
- Control Scheme: Mouse
- DRM: Activation Key
- System specs: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.2 Ghz, 4 GB RAM, Intel Mobile Chipset
- Game Acquisition Method: Review Copy