There is something hauntingly familiar to this scene. You, standing in the middle of a road, a desert expanse stretching into a fuzzy grey abyss both in front of you and behind you. To your right: a phone booth, bright on the inside, whose door won’t open. To your left: a diner–its neon signage reaching up into the night sky. From the side of the building you can see a large picture window on the diner’s second floor. Inside, a ceiling fan rotates aimlessly. In the light of a bright, full moon, everything appears in shades of grey…until it quickly becomes apparent that whatever color there had been before has mysteriously disappeared.
Discolored is a first-person puzzle adventure game from Jason Godbey, creator of 2017’s The Search. I was excited to try out his new game after having reviewed The Search when it originally released, and was lucky enough to spend some time with Discolored’s demo in advance of its closed beta. The demo comprises the earliest part of this initial scene with the diner, solving a few monochrome puzzles, finding the first shade of color, and eventually using that color to find the second color, after which the demo concludes.
Jason–an immensely talented 3D environmental artist in his own right–is also a master of atmosphere. There is something deeply unsettling to Discolored’s world without color; its desert road that ends in a grey void; its still and abandoned diner, a television flickering on static upstairs. The dread is Twilight Zone-like in the way it creeps around the edges. Returning color to the world one hue at a time curiously turned the game from ominous to whimsical, aided in no small part by a few reality bending puzzles, including a moon-related one that was extremely satisfying to watch play out. It’s clear there is a lot under the surface here; even the diner itself, which seems small at the outset, has a surprising number of extra rooms, nooks, and crannies that make me excited to get my hands on the full game so I can explore them.
How much time you squeeze out of the demo depends on your attention to detail; I found myself stumped for a while due to not attempting the most basic solution to a puzzle, though astute puzzlers might find themselves able to cruise through in a half hour or so. Despite wanting to see and learn more, I found the demo ended right where it needed to, right when I was finally realizing all the places I could access by unlocking the second color. It’s a taste to be sure, but just enough of one to feel intrigued about the mystery at large and comfortable with Discolored’s main mechanics.
Jason is launching a special closed demo period at the end of January which is ONLY available to those that sign up! He’s looking for feedback from players, so it’s a great chance to be part of the development process and get an early sneak peek at something cool. You can find out more information and register for the demo here. You can also wishlist the game on Steam.