Steam Game Festival 2021: Chicory: A Colorful Tale hands-on preview

When the world is drained of color, it falls to the wielder of the magical Brush to bring it back. Check out what we thought of an early version at Chicory: A Colorful Tale.


There’s magic in the colors of the world of Picnic Province. All things are filled with delightful color, given by the powers of the magical Brush. The Brush has been handed down from wielder to wielder to keep the world filled with color, but what if all the color fell out of the world? Well then, you’ll just have to put it back! That’s the heart of the story in Chicory: A Colorful Tale and we recently got to give this artistic adventure a go in an early form as part of Steam Game Festival 2021.

A world drained of colors

As mentioned prior, the Brush keeps the colors of the world in order in Picnic Province, but when some mysterious force leaves everything black and white and the Brush’s wielder Chicory disappears, it falls to you to take up the Brush and bring color back to the land. That’s right, you’re not actually the titular Chicory. You’re actually a little dog person who acts as Chicory’s janitor of sorts. But as Chicory’s servant and fervent lover of color yourself, it doesn’t stop you from being able to take up the abandoned Brush and try to do your best in Chicory’s place.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale is very funny in its mechanical design. While positioned as a sort of top-down Legend of Zelda style adventure, your interactions with the world come in the form of a sort of twin stick mechanic (at least on a gamepad. You can use WADS and mouse as well). Whichever control method you choose, you can move the Brush around independent of your character and paint the world as you see fit. It comes in quite handy as the animal folk denizens of Picnic Province aren’t used to not having color in the world. Some will ask you to paint up their places. Others will show you how to use the Brush, including changing colors, brush size, and other artsy mechanics.

What’s more, color affects various features of the world in interesting ways. By painting certain plants, you can cause them to bloom flowers. But erasing the color of other plants, you can turn them into sprouts. This manifested in maze-like adventuring in the demo as I turned trees into sprouts by coloring them and then turned them back into trees to form impromptu bridges across gaps.

For what we had in the demo, all of it points our unlikely hero towards using the Brush to solve color-based puzzles, find out what stole the world’s color, and discover what happened to Chicory. There were even areas in the world, such as dark caves, that I could not cross. Story points suggested we’ll also be able to strengthen the Brush and unlock new abilities with it to open those otherwise blocked off areas. Even then, you can just paint on a whim in Chicory and I spent as much time goofing around with drawing and painting as I did actually trying to advance the story. This is a game that invites your creativity at every turn and I’m pretty cool with that.

Command the colors like only you can

Chicory: A Colorful Tale’s demo was short, but sweet. I really got a lot of extra playtime out of just fiddling around with its coloring mechanic. I quite enjoyed the fact that you really can mess with the colors of just about everything in the world, even during dialogue. Imagine my silly delight when I called my character’s parents to give me a hint and then painted them up during the phone call because I could. Chicory has both a genuine humor and freedom to make the fun you want and I absolutely look forward to the creativity we can explore when the full adventure launches.

This preview is based on an early Steam demo build provided by the publisher Chicory: A Colorful Tale’s demo is available in the Steam Game Festival 2021.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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