Black Rainbow review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Ocean Media
Developer: Cateia Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

I recently played a point-and-click adventure from Cateia Games called Where Angels Cry. I was less-than-impressed, and found it painfully boring.

Black Rainbow is another point-and-click adventure from Cateia, and the good news about this game is that it?s not dull in the same way as Where Angels Cry.

You may have noticed that last sentence was phrased a little oddly. That?s because Black Rainbow is dull in a whole new and different way from Where Angels Cry. And, on top of that, it also finds brand new ways to fail. So it?s definitely a case of one step forward, but a couple of enormous steps backwards.

First, the boring. Black Rainbow is a pretty standard point and click adventure: you go back and forth between locations, picking up new items and using what you find to progress through the game. The problem, however, is that Black Rainbow doesn?t feature a whole lot of locations, so you?re going back and forth between the same screens a lot. Chances are, you?re going to get sick of seeing some of these places pretty quickly.

Moreover, finding the items you need is seldom much of a challenge. For the most part, they?re sitting out in the open, and they make themselves even more obvious by looking a little different than all the items on the screen you can?t interact with. There are some objects that you can only obtain by solving a puzzle, but the puzzles here all fall into two categories: either so easy they barely require any skill, or so incomprehensible you can just wait for the ?skip” button to fill up and then progress on. (And if you want an idea of the ratio, I think I skipped two puzzles during the entire game.)

As for the bad, Black Rainbow shows that this developer really can?t do animated graphics. For the most part the screens here are static, but every so often you?ll stumble across something moving, and the results are either terrifying, hilarious, or terrifyingly hilarious. The nadir of the game has got to be when you have to talk to some kind of fish-man, except he?s so blurry and indistinct, you?re basically talking to a wavy blob. To call the visuals here ?PS2-era graphics” would be doing a grave disservice to actual PS2-era graphics. This game is just plain ugly.

This game also features voice acting for some inexplicable reason. It?s awful.

Also, to complete the awfulness, Black Rainbow is just a teensy bit…racist? I think? Shortly after the game begins you come across some people who look like the most retrograde stereotype of African tribesmen imaginable, with the only thing missing being a bone through the nose. You stop them from performing a human sacrifice, and then, if I?m understanding things right, you trap them in quicksand and leave them to die. Later in the game, you come across a bunch of gobbledygook about Aztecs or Mayans or something, which would seem to indicate they aren?t actually African, but then there?s a brief moment near the end where you find another tribesman, this one enslaved. So the optics aren?t great.

Mind you, I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially in cases where you can attribute something to stupidity just as easily as you can attribute it to malice. And make no mistake: Black Rainbow is a deeply, deeply stupid game. If someone told me that the game was made by throwing a bunch of random point & click adventure tropes into some kind of AI adventure game generator, I would have no problem believing that. It?s just that lousy on every level.

But at least it?s short, and at least it didn?t put me to sleep, right? Black Rainbow could always have been worse. Not much worse, though. There?s a whole lot of genuinely bad elements here mixed in with a couple of head-scratching decisions, and they add up to make a game you simply shouldn?t play.

Ocean Media provided us with a Black Rainbow Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: D