When I was doing research for my end of year coverage, the name Chicory kept coming up. I knew I had to check it out, and with its recent release on Nintendo Switch, it turned out to be the best time. While I absolutely adore Chicory: A Colorful Tale, I’m a little mixed on its Switch port–but I couldn’t help but be enamored by this surprisingly emotional journey despite some of my frustrations.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is an adventure game where you play as Pizza, or whatever you name her, the prompt being “your favorite food.” In fact, while there are a lot of food references in Chicory–people are named after food, and the towns are various mealtimes–Chicory is really about being an artist, and the emotional vulnerability that entails.
As Pizza, you become The Wielder–the one who uses a special magical paint brush to bring color to the world. As The Wielder you can literally paint the world around you as you see fit. This has a cosmetic effect, obviously, but you also use the paint brush to solve puzzles and bypass obstacles. Chicory has some seriously clever puzzles using the brush mechanic–either through painting patterns, or revealing hidden messages.
One of my biggest gripes about Chicory is its level design. I appreciate its top-down perspective and even its aesthetic–except that it makes navigating its levels a pain in the butt. Later, when Pizza starts to bond more with her brush, and gets better movement abilities, Chicory opens up in a way that feels significantly less frustrating. I wouldn’t mind it so much if traversable paths were more obvious. There were times I was stuck in Chicory because I knew where to go, just not exactly how to get there. While I understand that’s part of the challenge that is designed for the game, I didn’t have fun looking for paths that are a few pixels wide.
While I didn’t play the original PC version, there’s a part of me that wishes I had. The Nintendo Switch version of Chicory is great, but it has one major problem: I hate the brush mechanic. For something that follows you around throughout the game, it’s unfortunate that it was such a bummer to use. I struggled ot use the joystick-based brush throughout, and it makes Chicory feel like a strange, clumsy, almost twin-stick shooter, especially during boss encounters. Another gripe I have with the Switch version is the UI. Using the menus and the map can be a little frustrating.
Chicory: A Coloful Tale is full of charm, and has as many heartwarming moments as dark ones. Anyone who has created something can relate to the story, which is what it’s like to be a creative type, and the doubt that comes with it. Chicory features some impressively heavy storytelling alongside its wholesome animal characters.
I’m glad I listened to the buzz and played Chicory: A Colorful Tale. I did struggle a bit with the Nintendo Switch controls, but otherwise it’s a good fit for the hybrid console. Chicory boasts some seriously clever puzzles and poignant storytelling that make it one of the essential games of 2021.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is available now for Nintendo Switch.
A Nintendo Switch key was given to us for the purposes of this review.