Coloropus is a young cephalopod in love. His girlfriend, resplendent in pink and with a fetching bow, is thrilled when he brings her a pearl. I'm guessing this is how an octopus proposes, but I'm a little out of my depth here - I've never dated an octopus and I don't know how it works. In any case, their celebrations are cut short on a day trip at the beach when an enormous glass bottle scoops her out of the water. Poor Coloropus! He immediately sets out to find her...
Coloropus is a curious game. Our titular hero has the ability to change colour by collecting suitable orbs. He can carry up to two at a time, and combinations of different colours mix to make a third colour (for instance, blue and red to make purple). These colours are important, as certain areas of the sea are dangerous unless you match that area's colour - and matching your colour to that of obstacles or enemy creatures allows you to destroy them with ink blobs.
It's not all that violent, however. Coloropus also needs to manipulate the environment somewhat. Being a very small octopus, he can't handle big things - but he can move smaller objects around. Several glass orbs are to be found around the place too, which (when broken) upgrade his abilities. And you can manipulate the environment in other ways - uprooting seaplants will reduce your karma, while helping to grow new plants increases it. One of the oddest parts of this game is the approach to death - depending on your karma, Coloropus ends up in either Heaven or Hell, and finding a way back to your body is how you return to the game - digging yourself out of your own grave...
Controls are entirely mouse, with the left button used for movement and manipulating objects and the right button used for firing your ink blobs. It's a good idea to collect fruit to keep your ammunition topped up. The controls are reasonably intuitive, but there's a tutorial-style section at the start of the game that gets you used to the basics. Perhaps the strangest part of this game is the complete lack of any text or speech - all instructions and conversations are delivered symbolically. Most of the time this works quite well, but it did leave me baffled at times and doesn't always explain WHY you need to do something.
Coloropus has high quality graphics with an emphasis on cute, though some of the fish seemed a little odd to me (not to mention flat). The range of colours in the game is pretty high, but they aren't always entirely distinct and I had to experiment a couple of times. The lack of text extends to menu options, too, with a range of symbols that I sometimes had some trouble interpreting.
One of the high points of Coloropus is the background music. A variety of instrumental background tracks feature, including gentle piano pieces, with the music ramping up when dangerous creatures are near. While the technical quality of the music is not as strong as in some games, the mood is perfect. There's also a range of sound effects to suit the environment, and Coloropus and other creatures "talk" with a sort of gargling sound.
I actually found this game quite difficult. The basic controls were simple enough to get the hang of, but the lack of clear direction often led to me being totally confused. Coloropus can only take a certain amount of damage before expiring, but there doesn't seem to be any indicator for his health, and trying to find the right colour combinations can be tricky - often you may have to go back some way to find one, and sometimes it's hard to find any at all. Against some enemies, it's better to swim for your life. The manipulation of the environment is clever - I managed to get a glass orb on one screen that was out of reach by using a similarly sized stone to knock it into my tentacles! Will I ever free Coloropus's girlfriend, however? I fear not...
I've struggled to get all that far in this game and found the experience a little frustrating. The coming back from Heaven/Hell approach to death is novel, but it gets tedious after the first couple of times. There are a lot of achievements to unlock, but I have no idea what they actually are (despite getting three of them) as they have no description, just pictures. There appears to be an option to share them on Twitter or Facebook. There is a save option, which I think I figured out correctly, but the general lack of clear instructions makes it hard to be sure - I took several attempts to figure out how to start my first game!!
While I want to like Coloropus and there are so many good things going for it, I just don't enjoy the experience. The game plays quite slowly, and it's fairly forgiving (making it hard to get completely stuck) but the symbolic language doesn't help in the way it should. I have no idea what I'm doing half the time. It is this more than anything else that works against the game - some documentation, or a walkthrough guide, would give Coloropus a big boost.
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