Since acquiring a good portion of THQ’s former IP library and re-branding itself as THQ Nordic, Nordic Games has gotten to work on both revisiting past releases and looking for new ways to modernize popular series. This approach has resulted in remasters like de Blob, remakes like The Raven HD, and the announcement of in-development sequels like Darksiders 3. Needless to say, the company hasn’t sat still, or rested on its laurels, since the big purchase.
The latest game to have received the so-called remaster treatment is de Blob 2, which follows in its predecessor’s steps a mere few months later. With it comes an increase in polish, streamlined gameplay mechanics and even more things to paint.
Originally released in 2011, this sequel to 2008’s one-time Wii exclusive presents a very similar storyline on top of its familiar and accessible gameplay. For the most part, it doesn’t stray far from the game it continues, although changes have been made to lessen the abundance of random challenges that made up a large part of the original’s campaign. There’s also more variety to be found, in addition to less button mashing, which is certainly appreciated. After all, having to repeatedly tap the A button to deposit paint into buildings got old after a while. It didn’t help that later levels had us doing it often, with some deposits needing eighty or more button presses.
Let’s start with the story, which once again features Comrade Black and his Inkie army, who aim to rid Planet Raydia of all of its colour. After being dispatched from his giant satellite at the end of de Blob, the gray-loving leader has found himself on a small and deserted island. The problem with this is that, unlike your typical desert island, the one on which Comrade Black finds himself isn’t far from civilization. Thus, he’s been able to make his way back, and is once again involved with the terrible INKT Corporation. Hell, he’s even attempting to run for leadership in his newfound home, while using hypnotism and other cheap methods to attract votes.
Told over the course of around eleven lengthy missions, this narrative forces everyone’s favourite, colour altering blob back into action. He comes bearing a couple of new tricks, too, with examples being a protective shield that prevents ink damage for limited amounts of time, and the ability to go inside many different buildings, factories, sewers and institutions, which introduce 2D platforming into an otherwise 3D series.
During these plentiful 2D segments, one must defeat enemies and avoid traps (lasers, ink pits and water) en route to colour coded objectives. Paint pools and bots are strategically placed throughout these interior locations, and one must make good use of them in order to collect enough paint to slam into switches, bash through colour specific pieces of the environment or deposit paint into colour coded holes in the walls. What gives this a slight bit of challenge is the traps, and the fact that colour can only be collected at certain spots. If you lose your colour by touching water or ink, you’ll then have to go back and recollect it. Plus, since some of these puzzles require multiple hues, one must pay attention to and avoid certain ones until they become necessary, since de Blob 2 continues its series’ love of blending.
Once again, almost every colour of the rainbow factors in here. There are the primary hues, like red, blue and yellow, which can be combined to create orange, green and purple. Adding a third colour will then turn de Blob brown, which is required for more objectives than you’d expect. However, unlike the original game, de Blob 2 features many pools that one can use to collect the required colours without needing to worry about blending. These pools are part of the game world, and are often turned off at the start of their stages, because the INKT Corporation has seen to that. By going into the aforementioned sewer tunnels, you’re then given the opportunity to turn them back on for future use.
That said, a large portion of de Blob 2‘s gameplay is based around mechanics that its rather unique predecessor introduced. Thus, you’ll find yourself moving throughout many 3D environments, including futuristic towns and cities, as well as a state college, a hydro station, a television factory and an idyllic island. Scattered throughout these locations, players will find markers that activate new quests, some of which are similar to those found in the first game. There’s less of a focus on going from one random paint challenge to another, however, as Blue Tongue Entertainment worked on streamlining and improving this sequel. As such, there’s a greater variety of challenges, though many end up being based around destroying enemy weapons, painting housing blocks specific colours or going inside of buildings in order to bring them back to colourful ‘life.’
Most of the above is handled through an accessible system that is based around ease of movement and interaction. de Blob moves pretty quickly, and can jump onto buildings or other pieces of the environment, while also having the option to wall run for short distances. Of course, as those who played the first game will know, he can also slam into things from above, which is how most of this title’s combat and paint collection are handled. New to de Blob 2, however, is an ability to shrink by sucking in water, which is helpful whenever you need to go through a small tunnel or get through another similarly tight space. The most important thing to know, though, is that you must always pay attention to the number at the top of the screen, as it not only delineates the character’s paint supply, but his health as well. Once it drops to zero (usually through damage or ink poisoning), a life is forfeited.
Speaking of lives, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention de Blob 2‘s new upgrade system, which allows one to increase the creature’s lives as well as the strength of his shield pick-up. Other things that can be improved upon include the amount of paint that can be carried, how much paint it takes to use his powerful charge attack, as well as player 2’s ammunition. You do this by collecting light bulbs; thirty to fifty of which are scattered throughout each stage. Some can even be collected after you’ve completed their main goals, through bonus objectives that eventually appear. Completing these can help you progress towards the gold medals that await those who’ve fully completed each level.
Yes, there’s co-op to be found here, allowing for friends to aid one another or, more importantly, for parents to help their small children. It’s handled through a system where the person holding the second controller gets to be a flying robot named Pinky, who can shoot enemies and can also paint parts of the environment.
Like that which came before it, this game succeeds in creating a relaxing and almost mesmerizing atmosphere, thanks to serene gameplay and good use of both colour and music. de Blob 2 continues its series’ penchant for offering varied types of music, including a lot of up tempo stuff befitting its colourful hero and the world he must save. The only problem with it all is that there’s lots of repetition, meaning that one is likely to get bored of doing the same things over and over again after a while. For that reason, it’s advised that you only play this game in short bursts, so as to not tire of it.
In conclusion, de Blob 2 is another quality remaster from THQ Nordic, and is a good game in general, like it has been since it first released back in 2011. There are so few games like these that they’re almost timeless in a sense, though their repetition and lack of difficulty tend to create tedium.
**This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.**
de Blob 2 improves upon its predecessor, and does so by streamlining objectives and introducing both new power-ups and interior locations that incorporate 2D gameplay mechanics. It's also been remastered well, thus providing the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with a quality re-release of a timeless and serene game.
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The Good Stuff
A lengthy campaign that spans around 11 missions and improves upon that of its predecessor
Accessible but enjoyable gameplay
Serene atmosphere brought forth by good use of colour and music