Set in Chroma City a little after the events of de Blob, Comrade Black is back in the political process. The underground pro-colour group has reformed to dezone Black’s constituency and maybe amend the constitution to prevent such election fraud and gerrymandering from happening again. For a game about a sentient blob of colour-change paint, it has quite the basis in real-life issues. This remaster of de Blob 2 comes seven years after the original dB2 made the rounds on 360, PS3 and Wii.
In de Blob 2, players restore colour to vast swathes of the city. Some areas need particular colours while others give a player some more artistic license. How the player colours everything in is where it gets interesting as the game worlds are well designed to challenge budding artists.
de Blob 2 is part-puzzler, part-platformer. The game’s central mechanics are simple – combat is controlled by a button or two at most points and platforming is usually quite straightforward. The aforementioned painting mechanic is simply a matter of absorbing paint from wells, puddles or enemies and touching each discrete building.
This aspect of the game is teased out to some decent set-pieces and puzzles, most of which are done under a timer – it sounds easy and for a while, it is. Early missions are just a matter of learning to do something very comprehensively. The tutorials are overbearing. Stuff like restocking or mixing paints, hitting colour-coded switches and enemies are drilled into players so they can combine it all later. A second player can join in on a second controller but it’s very ‘Wii’ – disabling enemies or collecting stuff with an on-screen cursor.
Players are shunted around the maps to complete different tasks in free-roam 3D but also sent underground and indoors for 2D puz/plat sections. These sections break up the flow nicely and can be as tough like the overground escapades but much more linear. There is only a small 2D backtracking element; it’s not Metroidvania-esque, preferring to let the puzzling cause the headaches.
The oil drains colour from items a player touches but also saps their moisture, killing the player eventually
As a player gets to the third area however, a player will have learned most of the game’s trials and demands. From this point on, de Blob 2 gets quite tricky as the timer forces players to prioritise. Each map has three types of metric by which players obtain a rank so dealing with sideshows while trying to complete the main quest can be a tough balancing act.
Early on, the environmental hazards are largely deleting rather than deleterious. A player might change colour at the wrong time, erasing their progress or otherwise sending them backwards. This element is gently ramped up as later hazards will kill you. Oil slicks are much more prevalent as we hunt down Comrade Black, slowly reclaiming the districts from him. The oil drains colour from items a player touches but also saps their moisture, killing the player eventually. I found de Blob 2‘s mild difficulty spike is fair and foreshadowed; dying from losing all your moisture is likely your fault.
For the greater part of the game, de Blob 2‘s camera is functional, steering away from the hills and skyscrapers and giving players a good view of the action. But there are many occasions when its flighty nature and reverse orientation become a problem. There are also issues on when control perspective shifts during the camera’s freakout moments.
While the platforming isn’t terribly difficult nor is failing to make a platform fatal, the falls and painting errors caused by the camera are at least annoying. When the timer becomes stingier and the maps larger, the camera forcing mistakes moves beyond annoying and into infuriating. Being handed a ‘Game Over’ due to these issues is not a pleasant experience when the game offers little difficulty anywhere else. I felt as stupid as I usually look as the timer hit nil for the second and third time.
This reviewer appreciates that minimal work being put into camera and control issues in remasters and remakes is bizarrely acceptable by people.
But I won’t stand for it.
There is also a feeling of the levels never ending. Despite the timer making a player acutely aware of the length of time they are playing, it gets boring. Players are often doing eerily similar missions for what feels like hours but is more like 15-20 minutes. Such time-dilation is not encouraging.
The act of giving yourself more time usually eats slightly less time than you gain. That is, until later on when the camera can ruin several minutes work at a canter. Making that minute you gain a bitter consolation. This reviewer appreciates that minimal work being put into camera and control issues in remasters and remakes is bizarrely acceptable by people. But I won’t stand for it.
The maps can be less obvious to navigate than you might think even with a compass spinning around our blob. Each area of the city will ‘transform’ after certain criteria have been met, serving mainly as gates for our hero to get stuck behind. The process of unlocking new areas after increasingly arbitrary missions gets a little dull. The districts become clumsy to navigate and boring to traipse around after a while in each one.
dynamic music that shifts with your surroundings’ colour is worthy of a small paragraph all of its own. Like the one below.
The soundtrack of de Blob 2 is superb. Usually upbeat, it’s beautifully measured for the title. Add in some dynamic music that shifts with your surroundings’ colour and the audio becomes worthy of a small paragraph all of its own. Like this one.
The lack of any real technical progress in this remaster is disappointing
Colour Me Progressively More Bored
There is definitely a market for the easy platforming and mild puzzling of de Blob 2. Older children or the trans-aged would be an obvious one. But many gamers will not appreciate the amount of grinding and time-limits that only aim to make the game difficult. The lack of any real technical progress in this remaster is disappointing. The camera and its effects on the controls in particular hurt de Blob 2.
What is worse is that the game is incredibly repetitive despite its struggles to keep its simple mechanics from becoming so across its 16-20 hour play-time. I spent four days on de Blob 2 and did not enjoy it. But it’s possible that the game is better in smaller portions or with a child forcing you to play it but the signs point to no.
Formats: Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: 27th February 2018
Age Rating: 7+
Review code provided by publisher