Nostalgia is big business. It makes a great way to get the immediate attention of the audience who share the memories of a particular era. Entire films, books, TV series and music albums have been made that trade on nostalgia, a feeling that Out of Colors tries to evoke.
Out of Colors takes place within the confines of a bedroom. The bedroom contains a desk, a videogame console, a basketball hoop and a toy remote-controlled race car. For some reason, the little race car has been stripped of all its colour. The player need to recover those colours.
In order to get colours, you need to win races. To do this, you insert cartridge into the videogame console, which magically generates a track on your bedroom floor, that you then drive your car around. Once all the ‘tiles’ on the track are lit up, you get a spray can. Those spray cans are then used to decorate your toy race car.
No rhyme or reason is given why any of the above things are true. Why do you use a games console to create a mini race track? Why are the colours of your remote controlled car, and ONLY your remote control car, gone? This is, bafflingly, never explained.
The second problem comes when you try and drive the remote controlled car around the track. The controls are slippery and awkward, meaning that in order to succeed in lighting up the track, you have to drive quite slowly. There doesn’t seem to be a penalty for doing this, but it is not exactly exciting.
Decorating the car is similarly awkward, and there are a very limited number of ways to control the paint flow. This tends to result in your car getting covered in childish scrawl instead of anything that looks like art.
While it is a mistake to assume that everyone shares the same cultural touchstones, using them provides familiarity, and avoiding them entirely makes everything feel.. generic. As is the case with the room everything is set in. Despite proclaiming it to be a ‘90s bedroom’, aside from the videogame console (which looks vaguely like an NES, which was released in 1983) there is nothing to suggest its from the 90s at all. Some posters, VHS tapes or CDs with lawyer-friendly references to famous bands or films might have helped with the atmosphere.
Out of Colors could use a lot more in the way of content. The developers have said there are several thousand paint sprays to collect, but playing the awkward racing game several thousand times is not especially appealing. Perhaps if more than just the car had been robbed of colour, and there was much more to decorate, it might hold more appeal.
There is the seed of a good idea in here, but it needs to find an identity of its own, and create a truly unique look and feel in order to fulfil that promise as well as add a lot more in the way of content. This is an Early Access title, so there is still time to make it into something brilliant.