I guess Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a bit like Zelda really. You’re a gentle hero on a thrilling, sometimes frightening adventure. You explore a top-down world filled with charming people to talk to and lovely diversions. There are side quests and puzzles and abilities that steadily open up the map and allow you to manipulate the world around you in increasingly inventive ways. There are dungeons and bosses. But! But the more I play the more I realise that Chicory is actually nothing like Zelda. It’s like no game I’ve ever played. And that’s because of what it does with its map. I’m still getting my head around it, to be honest, learning by the hour. It’s a bit like Zelda and – weird to type this – a bit like the menus they sometimes give kids in restaurants, along with a beaker of crayons.
Chicory’s map is something you can draw on. And this brings the entire game, and everything in it, all together.
It also gives it a lovely aesthetic. Thick black lines, white spaces and – swoon – print halftone with those brisk, stylish rows of dots. Snappy! In Chicory, you play a little dog whose world has been drained of colour. You take up the brush and mantle of the Wielder and your quest is to put things right. You fight bosses and solve puzzles, but you also tackle your own anxiety and feelings of inadequacy – are you right for such a big job? Do you have the gumption and the artistic talent to make it work?