Colour Guardians, for lack of a better or more eloquent comparison, feels like the videogame equivalent of quicksand. Its automatic runner gameplay is the sort that proves immediately accessible, yet despite possessing an allure that should fizzle out quickly, refuses to do so and instead keeps you coming back time and again to sample its simple, yet effervescent charms.
Whimsically thin fairytale fluff plot aside, the mandate of Colour Guardians is simple. Automatically sprinting from left to right, players take their bouncy, colourful avatar on a journey to collect as many hued orbs as they can before the end of the stage in order to achieve the highest score possible.
Outwardly, and on initial impression at least, Colour Guardians feels a little like Hello Games’ Joe Danger titles. Where the similarity kicks in, is in how players are able to jump between a number of different lanes in order to hoover up as many of the spheres as they can. Where things get trickier however, is when the notion of colour-coding comes properly into play.
Essentially in order to keep the score ramping up, players not only have to perform a nifty spin attack at just the right time when collecting the orbs, but they also have to ensure that they are wearing the right colour too. You see, the player is effectively controlling a chameleon who, by pressing one of three face buttons on the controller, can instantly switch colour and it’s this gameplay mechanic that exists at the core of Colour Guardians.
As a result then, only orbs of matching colour be scooped up, but so too must the correct colour be chosen in order to allow your scampering chameleon to pass through colour-coded barriers to prevent them from coming to a sudden, gaming ending halt. Early on, the game quickly impresses upon the player the need to switch hue swiftly and often. Thus, it’s the combination of switching lanes and shifting colours to pick up orbs while avoiding hazards that makes Colour Guardians a far more challenging proposition than its auto-running genre veneer might otherwise suggest.
Spicing things up a fair whack are a wide range of other obstacles that must be overcome. From colour-coded springs to roaming enemies and a variety of other pitfalls, Colour Guardians certainly wastes no time in testing players and yet, the challenge always endures as an expected and well-judged one without ever feeling unfair or suffering from abrupt spikes in difficulty.
It’s in this sense then that the lightning fast reflexive requisite of Colour Guardians almost makes the game feel akin to a rhythm based title. Certainly, it becomes all too easy to simply tune out of everything going on in your periphery as you instead focus on nailing every jump perfectly and switching to every colour flawlessly against the cheery thrum of Colour Guardians soundtrack.
Further afield, the addition of boss battles threatens to undo much of the good work that Colour Guardians has wrought in its frenetic stages. Thankfully, such a calamity is deftly evaded however, since rather than changing things up too drastically by forcing the player to learn all new mechanics, these scraps instead smartly repackage the existing auto-running and platforming mechanics in new and interesting ways.
If the game stumbles in any sort of meaningful fashion, it does so as the result of its own streamlined ambition. Quite frankly, there isn’t much to do beyond Colour Guardians’, auto-running, orb-collecting remit and aside from the moderate compulsion to perfect each stage; the scope for longevity remains disappointingly meagre at best.
Nevertheless, gameplay aside, Colour Guardians is nothing if not kind to the eye and the game is generously flowing in a veritable kaleidoscope of colour and vibrancy that are a world away from the garish canvases that usually accompany the AAA gaming juggernaut.
Being a Cross Buy and Cross Save compliant title, Colour Guardians also finds itself at home on the PlayStation Vita too, with its easily accessible and compelling gameplay translating well to the muscular handheld’s on-the-go gaming sensibilities. While the gameplay and quite happily, the vibrant aesthetic, make the leap to Vita brilliantly intact, a potential dampener comes in the form of overly long loading times that tarnish the instantly satisfying pick up and play mandate that the game so ably fulfils everywhere else.
In Colour Guardians, developer Play Fair Labs have fashioned an entertaining and immediately satisfying romp out of what is otherwise a very lean concept. Appealing to both younger folk and older players who are simply looking for something colourful and easy to get into, Colour Guardians is best enjoyed in short bursts either at home or on the move.