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IFCOMP 2005 - The Colour Pink

Game #8: The Colour Pink, by Robert Street
Played On: 10/15/2005 (5:40 PM to 6:30 PM, 6:50 PM to 7:25 PM, 7:45 to 8:55)
Unofficial Score: 9.5 (9.0 base with +0.5 skew)

     I love this game.

     This is old-fashioned puzzle goodness. You are sent to investigate the disappearance of a colony, missing from an alien planet. Eating a suspicious bird egg Ė for no good reason other than an irresistible urge Ė puts you into a surreal, alternate reality. I did something similar way back in the í99 competition. It was met with mixed reactions.

     You must be thinking ďGreat. Another one. Everything is all random and unreal, but itís all just part of the fantasy and thatís supposed to make it okay.Ē Thatís one way of looking at it. Yes, this does allow for some wacky encounters in which animals (both real and mythical) talk and ask for help with personal dilemmas. The puzzles are well-clued and not very difficult (aside from a carrot-harvesting bit thatís optional anyway), and most importantly, the entire game is fun. Itís really fun. This is what adventure gaming is all about.

     I solved the game along one path (not realizing another was even possible) without hints. The various endings are picked CYOA-style (following a CYOA ending in the game I played just prior, Vendetta). I was left missing 5 points, and a few objects/areas seemed unused. So, a peek at the hints, the after-game notes, and finally the walkthrough put me onto an alternate path that not only expands the enjoyment of the game, but actually changes much of the second half, resulting in two additional endings.

     The first two areas are quads that require no real mapping. The next area is larger, but arranged in a pattern that looks pretty cool on paper. Another quad underwater reflects some aspects of the ďrealĒ world, as does the interior of the red tower. As was probably the authorís intent, no single ending seems like the best or the most real, and itís never quite clear how the things in the alternate land (either of them, since there are two paths) relate to the missing people or the lost inventory from the real world.

     The writing in The Colour Pink isnít particularly colorful or clever (although it is pink in spots), lacking complicated metaphors and dense descriptions. This keeps it unpretentious and more game-like than story-like. The focus is always on the puzzles. I have little else to say about this game, except that I highly recommend it to puzzle fans Ė especially those who like the easy, traditional kind, where the gold key always opens the gold door and the carrot-loving rabbit is always going to give you something good if you feed him.

     As for the story, itís not complicated, but it could be deeper than it seems. Iím not sure why the pink theme was abandoned mid-way, nor why the love potion was just a segue to the fantasy world. Iím basing the game at 9.0 on my scale, skewing +0.5 for an ďunofficialĒ 9.5 because I had so much fun playing.

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