I, Courtney “Bad At Puzzles” Craven, would like to share with you, dear reader, what an absolute delight Chicory: A Colorful Tale is. More than a delight. It’s a masterpiece in accessibility. Developed by a small team led by Greg Lobanov (Wandersong) and published by Finji, Chicory casts players as a magical paintbrush wielding dog whose job is to fill the world with color and art after it’s all vanished. In recent years, we’ve seen indie games pushing the envelope with accessibility and vastly expanding their player base and in Chicory we see this trend continue into the current generation of consoles, utilizing the features available on the DualSense for a truly immersive yet highly customizable experience.
The gameplay revolves around color and while this may seem like it’s not enjoyable for those with colorblindness, Lobanov explained to Game Rant that the Chicory was designed to be fully playable for everyone—even individuals with colorblindness. Aside from its colorblind accessibility—for which there are no accessibility toggles as it just is accessible—the game boasts an astonishing array of accessibility and inclusion features, including some I’m seeing for the first time.
I’ll detail many of the available toggles and options but first, let’s have a look at some gameplay:
While the sound design and music are both fantastic and perfectly appropriate for a cozy game like Chicory, at no point in the game are players required to hear or listen to things in order to be successful. That said, the game features the standard volume options and one sound option that stands out as one more games should incorporate.
The “Wet Sounds” toggle explains that the wet sounds may be gross allows players with misophonia to just not have to deal with them, eliminating the ick factor of the wet paintbrush sound effects.
As there is no VO in Chicory, the story relies on the subtitles to be conveyed. As in most games without VO, the text size and legibility is quite good and there is no text scaling. However, I did run into a handful of instances in which small text was used for emphasis in a speech bubble and will be hard to see for some.
Compared to the standard speech bubble text size shown below, I hope to see this addressed in a patch as using size or line thickness for emphasis will prove to be a barrier for many.
In the vision category, Chicory has another novel feature I hope to see more games incorporate in its “Eye Strain” options. Players can choose from no warm filter, leaving a stark white screen, a subtle warm filter which the game defaults to, and a strong filter.
Players also have the option to toggle off flashing effects and screen shake, as well as visual text effects, which I found rather handy as the text effects felt a bit strong for me.
Speaking of text effects, Chicory gives players several options for text scrolling, including my favorite, “Instant,” and there’s a font choice between fun, the default font, and readable.
I started Chicory without any options toggled, as I wanted to see how it played without any customization and I was a little worried upon seeing that the paint mechanic—one of the core gameplay mechanics—relied on holding L2 while using the touchpad to move the cursor (the speed of which is also customizable). My small hands often struggle to use the touchpad for anything but a menu button because I can only comfortably reach the far edges on a controller as large as the DualSense and in order to paint with it, I had to rest the controller in my lap and drag my index finger around while holding down L2 which was rather awkward. My fears were abated though when I found the cursor can also be controlled using the right stick and all button and trigger holds can be set to toggle instead.
Controls are fully customizable with both full remapping and multiple toggles and presets for things like handedness, Adaptive Trigger effects, and which stick controls the cursor.
In addition to the “Wet Sounds” toggle there are also multiple choices that make for a much more inclusive and approachable game.
Players can choose from multiple player health options from hardcore to the default of two hits to invincibility. There’s the option to skip boss fights and players can even adjust the reaction time speed in 25% increments.
The standout feature of Chicory regarding inclusion however, is the “Content Warnings” option. Now, you may be wondering what on earth in a cartoon game about making the world colorful could warrant a content warning. There’s no blood or violence after all. The content warnings come into play during scenes with subject matter that may be difficult for some, such as the discussion of depression as the content warning below indicates.
Another favorite feature of mine is the hint system. It’s not a simple help menu pop-up as it is in many games. In Chicory, the hints are woven into the story. Players can call home for a chat with their mom and receive both reassurance and subtle objective guidance.
Players looking for more direct guidance will find that woven into the story as well when nearing the end of their chat with mom, their dad’s hand creeps into the frame. Mom will ask if you want to talk to your dad because he just loves to explain things and selecting yes will then give players exact instructions on where they should go and what they should do next. The best part? The game never penalizes you for using this option.
I can’t recall the last time I played a game that left me wanting for only one thing concerning accessibility. In fact, it was probably a year ago when TLOU2 was released that I felt this level of inclusion in a game, both AAA and indie. The robust feature/options set create a truly accessible and inclusive experience that makes playing Chicory an even bigger treat. While controller navigation may prove a barrier to some if playing on PS5/PS4 as use of the sticks is required, Chicory is also releasing on Steam (though I can’t speak to the accessibility on PC as I’ve not played it).
Following in the footsteps of TLOU2 with accessibility features and options is quite a feat, especially for an indie game, but Chicory absolutely nails it and is carrying on the accessible and inclusive trend I hope to see even more of in the gaming industry.
A review copy of Chicory: A Colorful Tale was provided by the developer / publisher.