I was planning on simply having a quick look into Tag as I have been doing with the other games in the IGF Student Showcase Category, but after giving it my time, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Such a beast of a game is surely worth more than a few paragraphs. So here goes my full-blown ‘Why You Should Play Tag: The Power of Paint’ wordathon.
Tag: The Power of Paint is a first-person paint-shooter (or FPPS for short… ok, I made that up). Armed with a paint gun, players can find and load three different colours of paint into their weapon and each colour has a different effect on the sprayable surfaces of the levels. The objective of the game is to reach the huge glowing orb of paint at the end of each progressing level.
Each level begins pretty much barren of colour – of course, you can change all that. Paint sprayed onto any monochrome surface will stick and remain there until level completion – even if you manage to drop off one of the games many high-rise rooftops to your death void of colour, your artwork will stay exactly how you dealt it out. I found myself spending a considerable amount of time just colouring entire levels in to see the kind of mess I could create. It’s quite simply excellent fun.
And that’s not even the game yet – that’s just the nice ‘side-effect’ of the gameplay. As mentioned before, each different colour has it’s own power. Stepping onto a green surface will cause your played to spring up into the air, keeping the previous sideways momentum, making for some awesome building jumps. Incredibly, spraying green paint on the sides of objects has the same effect, only in a horizontal direction. You begin to see how endless the possibilities are. Mirror’s Edge, eat your heart out.
The red paint causes your speed to increase tenfold, allowing for some brilliant velocity-driven flights through the air. Combining the green and red paint… well, set sail for the other side of the landscape.
Finally, the blue paint adds a whole extra dimension to play – stepping on a blue surface causes a player to stick to the platform. While this might not make much sense on a floor, firing a gun full of blue paint at a wall or ceiling… it’s an incredible idea and works so beautifully. Stick to a wall and the camera will turn on it’s side; With a ceiling the camera turns upside down. It’s all very Spiderman and is just fantastic to play. Puzzles combining the blue paint with both red and green will keep your mouth dropped in awe.
I say that with all honesty – I may have said the word ‘wow’ a good dozen times throughout my run and I laughed out loud at the intensity of some of the puzzles – ingenious doesn’t even begin to describe some of the leaps and dives I had to perform to reach my goal. It’s not exactly a difficult game and checkpoints placed throughout the longer levels keep it flowing, but you will savour every moment.
The screenshots show how nicely the scenery is cel-shaded and the style mixed with the techno-style soundtrack all work perfectly together. Ironically the paint splodges that eventually splatter every wall make you realise how bland it was before, and it makes you want to spray even more. It’ll give about half-an-hour’s worth of play to see the end but, like me, you may want to give it another go just to make sure that it really was that good.
I cannot recommend Tag enough. It’s beautiful, it’s so clever, it’s perfectly designed and it well and truly deserves to be nominated for the aforementioned award. Hell, I’d go as far to say that it’s got a great chance of winning it. Pick it up from the official Tag site now and spend the good part of an hour with my mouth hanging low.
Verdict: An incredibly unique puzzler which will keep you stunned in awe from start to finish. The greatest use of paint ever conceived.