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Tag: The Power of Paint (PC) artwork

Tag: The Power of Paint (PC) review

"A cool, colorful way to spend an hour"

Tag: The Power of Paint (PC) imageTag: The Power of Paint (PC) image

If you know where to look, the freeware scene will give you all sorts of great games. Metroidvanias, RPGs, shmups, puzzlers; you name it, it's out there somewhere. One reliable source of good games is the DigiPen Institute of Technology, whose students have been known to make programs impressive enough to catch the attention of developers as large as Valve Software during their expos. One of these works is Tag: The Power of Paint, which would go on to inspire elements in modern classic Portal 2 while providing a fun experience on its own.

The game has no narrative; all you gotta do is get to a goal, utilizing different types of paint to do so. Your paint gun has four functions; water to erase paint, green paint to jump on, red paint to accelerate movement, and blue paint to stick to walls like Spider-Man does. These functions synergize ingeniously; after erasing what's already on the environment, use red paint to pick up speed, green paint at the edge to get your jump, and blue paint at your destination to stay there. If this sounds familiar, that's because the formula and implementation were so polished even back in 2008 that much of it remained intact for its implementation in Portal 2, albeit the means of delivery were different in that game, and the blue paint was cut during development due to the somewhat nauseating point-of-view it required. Despite letting you have more control over your environment than its successor did, Tag's levels are so well-paced that one must still utilize critical thinking in order to proceed, yet especially clever manuevers can make for great speedruns for a game that can already be completed fairly quickly.

[imageb11.jpg[/image]Tag: The Power of Paint (PC) image

The most significant problem with Tag is the short running time, as the game can easily be completed in less than an hour. With the Portal 2 modding scene on PC, the problem of the mechanics not getting the time of day has been solved, while time has been less kind to the graphics. Both the brevity and low graphical fidelity of Tag were unavoidable due to the nature of the game being a school project, but it's still unfortunate that the setting is a cardboard city of blurry greys, even if it helps the colorful paints stand out more. Most troublesome is a problem seen more in bad console FPSes: a horse-blinder field-of-vision that can make precise movement difficult. Nevertheless, these flaws are minor in comparison to the fun this freeware offers.

Tag: The Power of Paint is a brief, fun puzzler that about any PC can run and about anyone can enjoy. Its concepts were strong enough to be immortalized in Portal 2 and even another follow-up in Aperture Tag, which is excellent in its own right. Despite its age, Tag is still well-worth the little time it will take you to briskly progress through its interesting challenges. Give it a try!

Follow_Freeman's avatar
Community review by Follow_Freeman (March 17, 2018)

When he isn't in a life-or-death situation, Dr. Freeman enjoys playing a variety of video games. From olden shooters to platformers & action titles: Freeman may be a bit stuck with the games of the past, but he doesn't mind. Some things don't age much.

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