de Blob is deceptively simple. The goals of the game are to combat the evil INKT corporation, who have sapped all the color from Chroma City, and made corporate drones of its citizens, the Raydians. Blob is on a mission with his crew to restore color and hope to the city.
There are layers to this puzzle, and it goes beyond just mixing your primary and secondary colors to coat the buildings and trees in coat after coat of your choosing.
The story of a rebellion and leading that rebellion as its most able ‘fighter’ is by no means new; but de Blob parallels some rather poignant cultural signifiers. Not only are you coloring the city, but bringing function back to important landmarks; among these landmarks you will find jazz radio stations, sports centers, churches, and all with a slight graffiti drawl across the buildings you liberate. You are bringing an urban feel back to a metropolis that has become completely corporate.
The game has a rather funky soundtrack, with such titles as righteous, smooth, and funky. Its urban locations recall slums, factories, and a teeming city with discrete neighborhoods. The colors are bright, vibrant, and scream against the brownish gray overlay often seen in current-gen games. You are meant to bring back life to the game.
Now, pair this with the fact that the INKT Corporation very clearly draws on Nazi imagery with their marching, ‘Comrade’ Black (while socialism is not communism, the two often are conflated and considered in the same political direction in today’s political climes), and ridiculously tall headgear. They have rushed in to a city, demolished its morale, and consigned its citizens to work for and obey them, essentially making slaves of them. At one point you learn their bodies’ liquids, or the suits that encompass their bodies, are used to create the very ink that coats their city and robs it of life. They have stamped out all individuality, and suppressed the color of its citizens.
Instead of allowing them their culture, they have imposed what they believe right. They have white-washed the city, literally. Sure, it is a critique of the rise of corporations and what they mean for individuality and persons in the real world, but that coincides directly with how those effects are quite often felt even more by persons of color in this world, who are still vastly ignored, unless pandered to specifically with a token character or photoshoot here and there.
At this point it is very difficult not to draw parallels to race relations; and particularly those of African Americans in the U.S. and Jews in Europe, and how they were viewed by Hitler and his ilk. For myself, fighting this liberation struggle, freeing these poor Raydians from their tenements that had lost their color (by giving them back their culture through color), and breaking them out of the prisons that held them struck a chord in me that kept me playing through an infuriatingly designed game that assigned its jump function to waggling the Wii remote.
Again, it’s hardly new to be faced with the tale of a liberation in videogames, but to have one that is such a parable to the plight of non-white persons in general, and what I saw as African Americans and Jews in particular, intrigued me. In many ways, it is the easy way out. Much like with Abu’l Nuqoud in Assassin’s Creed, this is a story that can easily be glossed over, overlooked, and just be ignored by a player not really looking at it in the same angle as I was. There is also the fact that the game treats all this in a fairly light-hearted manner. The design itself is supposed to be whimsical.
This seems to have largely been designed with a childlike (not to be confused with childish) appeal to it. Given such a game, it would likely not directly address race relations, or the horrors various white cultures have inflicted on those deemed different. Then again, I have no idea if the designers themselves intended that to be the message, and my sneaking suspicion is that the foremost thought was to paint as evil corporations, and imply that the organic lifestyle of individuals and our cultural weight was what mattered.
However, when this is paired with distinct cultural landmarks that speak of a culture reminiscent of New York’s Harlem or draw allusions to the Third Reich, it can take a meaning on its own. Considering how personality-devoid the protagonist, Blob, actually is (he, in fact, is a colorless blob until he picks up color), it became very easy to see myself performing these acts, not Blob. Other than the cool-guy bravado, Blob himself brings nothing to the table, meaning for the story elements of why I was doing this, my own reading became much more important to me.