I don’t know about you, but I never think about how important color is in our daily lives. Without color, our perspective on things would be so much different. Everything would be boring and even a bit creepy.
I didn’t think about it like that until I played Discolored, a game that removes all the color, and makes it your job to get it back. You’ll do this by completing different puzzles in a deserted diner in the middle of nowhere.
Discolored is a puzzle game created by Jason Godbey and published by Shifty Eye. You start in what I can only assume is your office. Since the beginning, you need to start solving puzzles to start the real puzzles. You start by getting a viewer, a tool that’ll let you go through a painting Super Mario 64 style.
After you use the viewer, you end up inside the painting, in a lonely diner in the middle of the desert. Everything is silent, dark and colorless. Nothing tells you what to do, you have to already know what the goal of the game is.
The atmosphere makes you feel uneasy. I had to double-check if Discolored was just a puzzle game, or if it had scary elements in it. The lack of color and sounds, combined with a first-person perspective, keeps you waiting for some scary moment or a monster that chases you while you solve the puzzles. Thankfully, none of that happens.
Instead, you get a 3D puzzle with just one environment. This is a cool aspect of the game; being just the diner and its surroundings feels like you’re trying to get out of an Escape Room. Plus, when you progress through the game, new secret areas start to appear. However, this made the whole game a bit short, if you already know what to do.
If you don’t know how to do it, though, it’s going to take a while. Some puzzles are hard to understand. Sometimes you’ll have no clue of what to do, and you’ll go back and forth hoping to stumble across an answer. Luckily, Discolored has an option to hint hotspots that you can enable in the settings. This feature makes your job easier, but you still need to figure out what to do for yourself.
One thing that I dislike about the game is how you interact with the objects. You have a small cursor that turns into a triangle when it’s over an interactive object. This is a good thing, it guides you in the game without an actual hint.
What I don’t like is how close you need to be to the object to work. You need to be really close, and have the cursor exactly on top of the object if you want to know it’s interactive. It’s a little frustrating how precise you need to be, especially when you don’t know if that object is actually helpful.
Despite this, when you have all the tools you need at your disposal, it’s fun to look around for the answer of the puzzle, even if that means you have to go to the same place several times. Once you start completing the puzzles, you feel so rewarded, even more so when you see the colors coming back to the world around you.
Now, what I liked the most about Discolored is the way it uses sound. As I mentioned before, there will be times when you’ll get no sound at all in some areas. But when you get to an area with music, the atmosphere changes immediately. Instead of feeling uneasy, you’ll feel relaxed and calm by listening to some classical music. And the game does a great job in deciding when to play music and when to let you listen to nothing but your own footsteps.
The colors, once you start getting them, are vibrant and they give you a sense of positivity knowing that you’re actually making progress.
Overall, Discolored is a short, pretty game that’s worth checking out. Despite some gameplay mechanics, Discolored is enjoyable and rewarding if you’re into puzzle games. Plus, its story, if you can call it that, gives you just enough details to make you wonder a lot of things, like who’s giving you these jobs and what’s that evil thing doing here. You feel like there’s more to the story than we know of right now, and it leaves you craving for more.
NOTE: Discolored is available on mobile exclusively as part of Apple Arcade, a premium gaming subscription service from Apple. Without being a subscriber to Apple Arcade you cannot download and play this game. Apple Arcade is $4.99 per month and does come with a free one month trial, you can learn more about it on Apple’s official website or by visiting our dedicated Apple Arcade forum.