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Rating: 4/5 (72 votes)
Comments (29) | Views (8,537)

KyleChromaticWarning: Chromatic is not friendly to those who suffer from color-blindness. If you have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors, you may want to skip this title.

You know what? There are just times when you need to go mellow. You know what I mean. Soft colors, round edges, smooth beats. That's what I'm talking about, something to just lean back and let all the tension just wash away from you. And this is exactly what Arkeus' platformer Chromatic would be if, you know, it wasn't also completely finger burning, brain breaking, throw your laptop against the wall insane. Aside from that part of it, it's totally relaxing.

The goal in this skill intensive puzzle platformer is to nab as many coins as you can and then make it to the exit in the shortest time possible. As you might have guessed, there's a twist. Actually, there are lots of twists, and all of them have to do with, you guessed it, color. As in most platformers, you move using the [arrow] keys, with an option to jump using the [space] bar, and stroke [V] to do a horizontal dash. But you can also change your chromatic blob of goo's color by hitting [Z] to turn red, [X] to turn blue, and [C] to turn yellow. Each color has a certain advantage; red moves faster and can dash for longer distances, blue can wall jump and slide slowly down walls, and yellow can double jump.

But this is only the beginning of how color affects the game. There are jump blocks that only bounce you if your colors match, platforms that only support you if you're the right color, and beams of lethal electricity that will fry you in place if you are any color but the right one. And if you thought that all you had to keep track of were the primary colors, guess again. There are stationary fields of color, and collectible pickups that combine with your chosen color to turn you into one of the secondary colors (during which time you will have the powers of both component primary colors. For instance, when green you can wall jump and double jump at the same time).

So, okay, maybe this isn't the place to go to relax. In fact, after you're done with Chromatic you'll probably need to spend an hour or two listening to soft rock and drinking something with an umbrella in it just to decompress a little.

ChromaticAnalysis: Chromatic strikes a wonderful chord in providing an original idea and executing it brilliantly while at the same time providing outstanding gameplay in a well established, perhaps even overcrowded genre. But be warned, for all of its beauty Chromatic can get insanely hard and it's highly recommended that laptop users strap down their machines before frustration gets out of hand.

All the staples of a good platformer are here. Controls are tight and responsive, and hit detection is for the most part fair and reasonable. But what really makes Chromatic stand out is the color shifting. Admittedly, this isn't an entirely new mechanic in gaming, but Arkeus incorporates it in an original and complex way here. What makes this such a bold move and an ambitious game is not just having a new color swapping mechanic, but employing this into a tough as nails skill based platformer. But Arkeus pulls this off with an approach to level design that borders on sheer brilliance.

This is all rendered in a pleasing aural and visual package that is quite pleasing, even by Flixel standards. The music is soothing (which you may need especially on the trickier levels) and the graphics are gorgeous in a very simple kind of way. I particularly like the little details, the chink sound made when collecting coins, and the wind chime sounds of changing colors. Even the splashes of colors when you jump or swap hues feel like a pleasant little treat.

But part of what sets Chromatic apart can also be its largest weakness. In being so difficult, and having such a color intensive scheme, Chromatic is not very accessible. Unlike most puzzle based platformers that forgive lapses in skill and grant you plenty of time to plot out your next move, Chromatic rarely offers up this luxury, and sometimes puts you up to the seemingly Herculean task of coping with something as complex as swapping colors mid jump to hit a double jump after a wall jump, and then anticipating an involuntary color change after hitting a stationary color field, and all of this in less than a second. If it sounds hard, that's only because it is.

It would be a shame to let that scare you off though and there are a decent amount of easier levels and a level editor if the original stages just get too intense. Despite being insanely hard and none too friendly to the color blind, Chromatic is itself an awesome achievement. It molds together blistering skill platforming with puzzle platforming whilst injecting a unique concept into the gameplay, and it does this with few hiccups and awesome production values. If you're looking for the next big challenge, or just want to see a great concept incorporated into great gameplay, you'll want to at least give Chromatic a chance.

Play Chromatic


tigrita May 24, 2010 4:19 PM

Is there a way to get the coins on the platforms in level 1? My double jump doesn't go high enough, and the wall jump won't reach.

And I already quit at level 5. The dash is way too imprecise, so I either fall into the spike pits or get skewered by the moving spikes. I must be missing something.


@tigrita - For the coins on level 1 just go to the right and use the platforms over there to get to the platforms to the left. Though I haven't had any problems with dashing before level 5 though. Was this on level 3? If so, you can simply run across the gaps without dashing as red. It tooks me a few tries to figure out, but then I noticed the text hint.

It's a cute little game though. I haven't beaten it yet, still got a few levels to go. It definitely gets more challenging later on, but I'm too hooked to quit now. I love the idea, and it's implemented almost flawlessly. My favorite part is that no matter how many times I die, I can't help but smiling when I see myself painting spikes with my color and exploding into sparkles.

cassiege May 24, 2010 5:22 PM

I agree that the red's dash is annoyingly imprecise so that it's almost impossible to judge whether you'll land on a block or fall into spikes if you are continuing from a previous block. I have another problem with how many times it takes me to figure out wall-jumping with the blue one. I don't think my hand-eye coordination is that high...

But it's a very cute game and a fun idea! It's sort of reminiscent of Within a Deep Forest where each ball has a different ability.

Anonymous May 24, 2010 5:31 PM

did you know that you can dash in midair? it helps on those high for away edges.

fuzzyface May 24, 2010 5:40 PM

This is an alright platformer for those particulary enjoying platforms.

Different modes is not anymore a particular new concept, I still like it, and I think with double jump, wall jump and extra dash its an interesting implementation. I'm not yet absolutely convinced though, if the ability to change the mode at will is adding to the game or a mere interface obstruction. Like to super-jump you can make a wall jump in blue, switch to yellow in air, double jump, switch to red in air, extra-dash. Some ingame mechanic that restricts mode changes to particular places, events, or the such would make the game yet more interesting, imho.

fuzzyface May 24, 2010 5:42 PM

Oh I forgot to say, I noticed the game recognizes 'Y' as well for the 'Z' key, safing us europeans from switching keyboard layout. THANK YOU! (at least ingame, interesting enough in level selection it wont)

tigrita May 24, 2010 6:02 PM

Thanks Rahke, I knew I either had to be missing something or the game was completely evil. Thankfully it was the former.


I have to say that was a very well done platformer. It was very difficult but I never felt frustated and I learned from my mistakes. I thought that the ability to

mix colors into secondary colors

was a clever twist.

Anonymous May 24, 2010 6:32 PM

The controls are very smooth even for platforming standards. No sliding or odd accelerations.
There's jumps in difficulty though, and it becomes very challenging from red world on. However, even at its hardest points, it never gets to the difficulty or memorization of some of the harder platformer hells (ex: MoneySeize, IWTBTG, N, some of the user-packs in meat boy), especially if you forgo trying to get the trophies.

Useful notes:
On later on levels you will need to change colors in mid air. (Though I suppose you need to even for the bonus coins on lvl 4). Also the "stationary fields" will override your crystal color.

Not sure what's imprecise about dashing. You shouldn't even use it on lvl 5. And for the most part, when you do need to use it, it's pretty clear (don't use it on the one space gaps, just run red through it)


It was almost beautiful (& it reminded me of nifflas too) but on firefox I lost the bottom and right edges of my little game window so I couldn't find my way through the third level.

This made me sad.

jonasxs May 24, 2010 8:39 PM

Not colorblind friendly, which could be solved by giving it stripes or different textures.


your window ruined the whole game. Every time I play a game that's in the unique window that you guys made(the one this game is played in) the whole experience is ruined. Any press of the arrow keys shifts the scroll bar making it impossible to stay focused on the game. If there is anybody who can give me a solution to my ailment, thank you. If not, I would strongly suggest you shrink the size of your window, Jay.

[Obviously, that shouldn't happen. What browser/version are you using? Have you tried a different browser to see if perhaps it's your browser? I can't reproduce that problem in any of the browsers I've tested on the Mac. -Jay]


I'd appreciate it if the training mode checkpoints were reusable. In some levels the path passes a checkpoint more than once.


I gave up when my eyes started stinging.

fuzzyface May 25, 2010 1:57 AM

zoanne, this is a firefox (or flash) bug, that is raised by zooming. Just zoom out a bit back too 100% and you'll see the whole game window.

StephenM3 May 25, 2010 3:05 AM

What is the purpose of Practice Mode? It seems identical to Trophy mode except it doesn't award trophies. Why would you want that?


level9 has only 24 coins but the game ask me to get 26 coins in order to get gold...
how can i do it?

Anonymous May 25, 2010 1:42 PM

Is it just my browser or it's a coding error? Everytime I play games that use arrow up/down to control, the whole screen will scroll up and down with the char movement.

[It's not a coding error, it's a known issue with Internet Explorer. What browser/version are you using? Have you tried a different browser? -Jay]


I have the same problem with scrolling window, but in Google Chrome (v. (45376)). In Firefox (v. 3.5.9) my up and down arrow don't even work, and playing with space and "v" is rather hard :/

Ahh, sorry for my poor english, but I had to write this ;)


wow, jay, can't believe you're using a mac, considering thier poor flash support. Anyways, I'm using a fairly recent edition of IE on windows XP professional. If it helps, this is on a laptop, not a PC


To anyone having an issue with the browser window scrolling with the arrow keys: Make sure you click on the game window first.

I made a change to the embed code, but only for those using IE. Would you please try it again and see if the arrow keys continue to scroll the page?

Majka: Are you clicking on the game window first? I'm also using Chrome and the only way I can reproduce the arrow keys scrolling the page is if I don't click on the game window after loading the page. Once I click on the game window, the arrow keys work in the game and do not scroll the page in Chrome.

MasterTonbury May 25, 2010 8:15 PM

Getting golds on the bonus levels is an EVIL, EVIL challenge, but other than that, I really enjoyed the difficulty of this'ne. The obstacles weren't repetitive and while certainly taxing were usually clever as opposed to just mean.


Jay, yes, of course I'm clicking In game window. I'm not playing flash games since yesterday :)
Up and down scrolls the window, left and right moves this... hmm... ball with eyes :)
When I click outside the window, up and down scroll as well, but right and left just do nothing (so everyhing is normal :)).

So it's just something wrong with up and down.


Thanks for the info, Majka, but I just can't reproduce the issue.

I've tried in Chrome (5.0.375.55) on the Mac: no issue.
Chrome (5.0.375.55) on Windows XP: no issue.

I've also tried in Chrome ( (45376)) on Windows XP: no issue.

Joe Mac May 26, 2010 9:43 PM

I do think that the site is overly concerned about those who have colour-blindness. What's with "Warning: Chromatic is not friendly to those who suffer from color-blindness. If you have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors, you may want to skip this title." The clue is sort of in the title folks.

You know, there's a lot of reasons why people may not be able to play a game. No warnings are ever included for people who: are dyslexic, cannot count, are short-sighted, are blind, have no arms, are in a coma, have brain damage etc etc etc and rightly so. Some things aren't suited to certain people. I do wish games would stop being criticised on here for being "colourblind-unfriendly" as if that's the be-all and end-all. You describe the game and say 'it involves matching 3 colours blah blah" and I'll go "ahh I won't get on with that as I'm no good with colours." I don't need WARNED in italics or caps

Like there's not a ton of other games out there people can play instead?

[Your point has been noted. I'm sorry if our warning annoyed you. -Jay]

joemac5367 May 27, 2010 9:14 AM

No need to apologize. I like your site and on the whole I like your reviews. I'll still be visiting but would be better without the WARNINGS for colour-blindness.

Yours Sincerely
Outraged, of England.


fuzzyface May 27, 2010 6:43 PM

Well some sort colorblindness affects about 10% of the male population. So it is much more common than you think, and I consider it noteworthy if a game excludes that amount. At least this much more than any other conditions you listed.

Many games do alternatives with numbers, patterns etc., I suppose just an optioon to switching some colors in setup would sufficide as not everyone has the same colorblindness. Unability to destingish red and green is with distance the most common one.

V2Blast May 28, 2010 4:25 AM

@Joe Mac: If people with those problems complain about the fact that they're having difficulty playing a certain game, I'm sure those games would get warnings too. It's nice to know they'll have trouble before they get into it. I don't understand why you have a problem with a one-sentence warning... That's just stupid.

I'm not colorblind, and even I have trouble differentiating between red and orange within this game. And orange and yellow.

14 levels in, and my eyes, brain, and hands are tired. Maybe later...


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