Color Guardians begins with a very large, evil looking monster sucking up all the colours from the game world. This means that the Color Guardians, three primary-coloured creatures, get to run around the world restoring it to the its vibrant state.
This is done by collecting red, yellow, and blue orbs by running through them as the same colour, which can be changed between the three guardians with a press of the appropriate face button. If you pass through an orb while you’re the wrong colour it’ll pop and you’ll miss out of those incredibly moreish points. Obstacles, such as rocks, fences, holes and the like, will force you to pass between the three different lanes of play.
Getting high scores isn’t just about getting all the orbs. You gain extra points for spinning (pressing the relevant colour button) through orbs, as well as changing colour and lanes. This means that a perfect run (that is, spinning through all the orbs) isn’t the highest possible score, but to improve upon it you need to take unnecessary risks. Hitting an obstacle means death, sending you back to previous checkpoint or the beginning of the level. This combination of these elements creates gameplay where you are weaving in and out of obstacles while changing colours and ensuring you are in the right lane for all the orbs all at the same time.
The game starts off with a few easier levels before it really lets loose, after which it only gets more difficult as more obstacles are introduced. Many of those obstacles will not work or will be impassable unless you are the right colour, such as jump pads that don’t bounce you, or plants that are impassable. Completing a level requires a little luck, a lot of skill, and tons of trial and error. Completing a level with three stars, which entails a particularly high score, may require divine intervention.
Difficulty in this particular case is a mixed blessing. It certainly presents a challenge, but due to the heavy trial and error it can grow pretty irritating. Memorising a level is key, but if you don’t have the patience or a bit of an addiction to leaderboards then you’re likely not going to get on with the game for too long, at least not shy of needing a new controller afterwards.
Graphically the name of the game is, as you might expect, colour. You run through levels made of grays and blacks and leave them bustling with vibrant colour, but the game fails to really impress on a visual level despite this. Everything just looks… okay. Nothing in particular stands out as good or bad, though the unnerving smiles on the guardians’ faces could be toned down a little bit. The game’s aesthetic seems to suggest a child-friendliness that the gameplay is simply too difficult to be appropriate.
Ultimately Color Guardians is a bright, cutesy, challenging runner with some good ideas that falls through when it comes to keeping it interesting. Restarting from checkpoints over and over only getting a little bit closer to the end each time quickly grows repetitive, draining any drive there might have been to continue playing.
Version tested: PS4