Simple premise meets brutal platforming, Color Symphony 2 made it to the Xbox One. Is this arcade title worth your time?
Game – Color Symphony 2
Platform – Xbox One (reviewed), Wii U
Developer/Publisher – Remimory
Release date – June 8th, 2016 (Xbox One)
Price – $9.99
The first few levels introduce an interesting storytelling delivery system in Color Symphony 2. The screen has a filter reminiscent of an old-school movie projector. Some chapter levels has stagnant story text that lingers in the background. Here is a compilation of the story delivered in Chapter 1:
“I was betrayed by my friends and cast out to the human world. My past was denied, and my reality sent me into deep despair. It took many long years for me to regain myself. Today I’ve returned to this world to fix everything. However, this is not the place I knew. Everything is parched and lifeless. All that I knew has gone. What happened here? All I can do is keep moving forward relying on my memory.”
Color Symphony 2 developer Remimory takes a few simple premises and creates a unique platforming experience. The player is dropped into a 2-D world and asked to traverse each level by finding the ‘exit’ portal. Avoid the obstacles in the level by basic platforming skills (jump, double jump, and a wall-cling). The challenges in the game range from finding each level’s hidden hat or beating the level with a 5-star time rating. That is until the levels start throwing impossible obstacles the player’s way. This is where color comes into play.
The player has silhouettes onscreen alongside objects of three colors: red, blue, and yellow. These different shapes are platforms or deadly obstacles. After a few basic platforming levels, it quickly becomes apparent that the only way to proceed through the level is to change the background color: eliminating some of the obstacles in the foreground. Shortly after which, the player realizes that this eliminates some of the available platforms. It isn’t long before the player is forced to time jumps with color coordination to scale through the levels. Complicating things further, the player is given the power to lock out multiple colors for a short period of time.
If this sounds overwhelming, it’s because it CAN be. Since the game only shows certain parts of each level, it can take quite a few tries to beat each level, and this requires a significant amount of trial-and-error. Color Symphony 2 is definitely for patient gamers who love puzzle platformers. Otherwise, it’s going to get super irritating… very quickly. It also becomes apparent that the interesting premise is never pushed to its limits, and the title lingers on the edge of mediocrity. Great games push things to the limit. Unfortunately, even some of the basic level designs are recycled throughout the game with not enough changes to make it feel like a revelation.
Instead of a timeless greatness, Color Symphony 2 has a simple brilliance. After a gaming session, the only thing you’re really mad at is yourself. The platform mechanics are consistent and reliable, and the puzzles themselves aren’t overly complex. But jumping through half a level only to accidentally switch to the wrong color is nerve wracking. It’s also half the fun. Fans of titles like Super Meat Boy who haven’t been introduced to this franchise will feel right at home.
The ambient soundtrack is lulling, and it makes the incessant grinds through the harder levels more manageable. Once the player barrels through the story-driven levels, there are extra levels to play (ex. Land of Grief). I loosely use the term play: these levels require pinpoint precision on both platform jumping and color swaps, and it’s really meant to challenge the gamers who truly thrive on horrible things like self-mutilation and the compulsion to rack up every achievement a game holds.
Compared to the first Color Symphony installment, the sequel holds up well. It’s much more polished, and the jumps are significantly more precise. Some of the cooler sketch work takes a backseat, and it’s an easy trade-off for better puzzle platforming gameplay. The main concern is the limit to its potential: Color Symphony 2 had a much higher ceiling than what was delivered. Avoid if you get easily frustrated, and play if you like to push the boundaries of your puzzle platforming skills.