July 15, 2014 9:00 AM | Lena LeRay
Mamoniem's Coated, which was an IGF-China 2013 Finalist, is a puzzle platformer in which players are asked to coat the player character in different colors of paint, mixing and matching, to enable them to interact with the environment in different ways. Players who prefer twitchy platformers with finely-tuned controls won't find what they're looking for in Coated, but it's a game which is suitable for players of all ages. Remarkably, it also includes a wide range of color settings to allow colorblind players to tweak things any way they need to so that they can play the game, too.
The environment looks like a forest rendered in earthy colors, with the colors of the player and anything they can interact with standing out in their brightness by default. To push blocks or use teleporters or hide from enemies in colored clouds, the player must coat the blob-like character they control in paint of the same color, either by jumping in a bucket of that color or mixing two colors together.
People who are already familiar with color mixing will have no problem picking it up, and for people such as children who don't understand color mixing, the game provides a reference chart, complete with color wheel, that can be brought up at any time. The reference chart also shows where buckets of paint can be found and what colors they contain, which is important information because the game requires players to travel back and forth from small area to small area to get the colors they need.
A lot of care went into making the game colorblind friendly. It may seem like that would be an impossible task, but there are two separate color settings menus in which players can adjust the game's colors. One menu, the basic menu, allows players to give the game a custom color and saturation filter. The advanced color menu allows players to specify hues for each color used in the game. I'm no expert and can't say for sure that this will take care of all colorblind players, but these settings can definitely open up play to many who could otherwise never play it.
The menus are done in the same style as the game itself, which is to say that they are interactive platforming segments. It's a neat idea, though it falls flat in a couple of ways. Getting to a different screen in the menu is as easy as hopping in the appropriate bucket and going there, but you can't hop into a bucket without double jumping and there's nothing to tell you that double jumping is even an option in the game. It relies on players' gaming literacy, on them knowing that double jumps could be possible and trying it out. Players can't even start the game without double jumping, and although the game has some tutorials once the player gets into the start game bucket, they're all about features specific to Coated.
In the settings menus, sliders are represented as crates for the players to push, and there are a couple of crates which reset things if pushed into a pit. Sometimes, however, you need to jump past a crate that has a platform right above it, making it hard to get on top. Once, I failed to jump over the saved game crate and accidentally pushed it into the deletion pit. I wasn't far into the game at that point, but that could be very frustrating for someone who is farther along in the game. It feels like less care was put into making sure the platforming in the menu worked than in the in-game stages. It's still possible to get around the menu, but player beware.
In spite of its flawed menus, Coated succeeds at making color-based puzzles accessible to a wide range of people. There's a certain amount of running back and forth inherent in the game, which won't suit all players, but it's a solid puzzle platformer. The game is available via Desura for $4.99. It can be played on Windows, Mac, and Linux.