If you know your Ancient Greek, you’ll know that there are nine types of love. I think it was around our GCSEs when I first saw Eros, Pragma, Ludus, Agape, Philia, Philautia, Storge and Mania scrawled on a blackboard.
On the face of it, there’s only Eros on display in Indigo 7: Quest For Love. The characters are on the prowl, looking for future ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends. It’s hard to pick out character traits from all the leering and rubbing of thighs.
But stick with Indigo 7: Quest For Love, and a few different kinds of love start emerging. This is the kind of coming-of-age tale where characters realise that one-night-stands aren’t all that fulfilling, and their best friend might have been their ‘Pragma’ all along. Or they learn some self-worth and love themselves (Philautia), and understand that their bond to each other is the best love of all (Storge). It’s as cliched as it sounds.
(We’re going somewhere with this ‘nine types of love’ thing, promise).
The overriding love on display, though, is Ludus, a playful love. Indigo 7: Quest For Love has a huge amount of love and affection for Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics, and also the simple puzzler, such as Tetris, Columns and Lumines. It’s the first thing that hits you when you boot Indigo 7: this has been made by a team who clearly love these reference points.
Check out the screenshots or trailer, and the Scott Pilgrim connection is clear as day. The quiff of the main character may be that little bit longer, and the music might be a little poppier, but this is very much a love letter to that comic series. The plot isn’t too dissimilar either: Nathan, the main character, has his heart set on a girl called Debbie, but various suitors, overly familiar friends and the grim reaper himself get in the way. It even culminates in a Battle of the Bands.
The story plays out as motion comics between the puzzle levels. As a suitor or monster pops up to claim Debbie, you square off and duel them in the puzzle.
There’s always a danger, when you follow in the footsteps of something as well-loved as Scott Pilgrim, that you’ll come up short in quality terms. So it is with Indigo 7: Quest For Love. The comic sections look great and are nicely kinetic, but the characters are punchable. Most of the time they’re genitals on legs, just looking to hook up with anyone at any cost, no matter how obnoxious it makes them. You’re meant to root for them as they find some kind of redemption, but you mostly want to lemon-spray them.
The female characters are mostly there to be swooned over, so it’s all a bit male-gazey, with the exception of drummer Karen, who just runs about punching Hammer Horror creatures as a weird subplot. She’s great, obviously.
The art and music is good, and while the songs don’t reach the heights of Sex Bob-Omb, they give Indigo 7 a playful, fun edge.
In between the handsy, sleazy Scott Pilgrim comics is the puzzle game bits. Hats off, these could have been your boring, seen-it-all-before match-3 puzzles. Instead, Indigo 7 opts for something relatively new.
You are given a grid of hexes in up to seven different colours. You flip a hex in a corner and this is where you start. Next, choose a colour, and every hex that’s the same colour AND connected to one of your flipped hexes is summarily flipped. So, you’re looking for the colour that will flip the most hexes, or the one that’ll create a Mr Tickle arm all the way to the other side of the grid, so that your next move will be a doozy.
It’s dirt simple, and it leads to games where the quality of your moves get exponentially better. You are only flipping one or two hexes at the start, but you might be flipping dozens at the end.
That wouldn’t have made for the most varied of puzzlers, so Indigo 7 opts for multiple game modes, which have substantial differences to how you play. Party Mode pushes you to flip every hex in a short time limit, while Vs pits you against up to two challengers in a score attack. Conquest is a kind of puzzle mode, where you clear a grid in a set number of moves, while Conquest Vs is a territory grab, as you flip hexes and hem in an opponent, similar to Boxes or Squares, which you may have played on lined paper at school.
Some of these are better than others. Party Mode is rubbish, for example. Clearing a hex grid against a time limit is a matter of spamming colours until they’ve all disappeared, and there’s zero skill in it. Conquest Vs, though, is great, as there’s so many tactics in play. Pick a colour and your opponent can’t use it, so you stick them in a dead end, while you can also build walls to keep them on their side of the grid.
Indigo 7’s fatal issue is that the core is, if not rotten, at least past its best-before date. In games like Vs, the optimal play is obvious. You pick the colour that’ll get the biggest chain reaction and clear the grid. Nine times out of ten your move is obvious. Indigo 7 knows this, so it adds in a Combo system. You get more points if you gradually increase the number of hexes flipped; so if you flip two, then three, then four, then five, your score multiplies to a ridiculous degree.
The problem here is twofold. Indigo 7 becomes a game of speed-counting, and you’ll find yourself guesstimating whether there’s more than or less than twelve blue hexes on the board. It might be someone’s cup of tea, but a puzzle game that relies on estimating totals faster than an opponent is a no go for us. Getting combos is absolutely essential if you want to win, as we lost count of how many times we won a round of five matches (sometimes with a perfect five out of five), but lost overall on score because of those flipping combos. Losing when you’ve whitewashed an opponent never sits right.
The other killer is how random Indigo 7 is. On levels like Conquest, you might have a grid with barely any connections, simply because the cookie crumbled that way. We are willing to bet that some Conquest levels are unfinishable thanks to this randomness, and that’s unforgivable. A strange flip on this is Vs games: if you start with a huge block of a single colour, then your combo is immediately ruined, since you’re starting with a large number that can’t be beaten. Your opponents have different grids to you, so it can mean a loss before you’ve even got going.
Often it leads to situations where you look at your grid and immediately want to restart, which isn’t how we like our puzzlers to be. This isn’t helped by there being no Restart option: you have to quit to the menu and come all the way back in to play again.
These quirky, slightly rubbish usability quirks are throughout Indigo 7. If you complete a game of Conquest on your final move then it will count as a failure, for reasons we can’t fathom. The victory rules for a mode are only shown on the level select screen, and can’t be seen in a game, so you’re stuffed if you haven’t remembered them. The same audio clips play repeatedly, and we couldn’t take another “oh, Debbie…” as we made a match.
There are numerous bugs too, as Indigo 7 hangs regularly, particularly when restarting a level, forcing you to quit the game entirely. We’ve completed the final four levels multiple times, but have still not popped the achievements. There are plenty of rough edges, which are at odds with the decent presentation elsewhere.
Indigo 7’s saving grace is in its multiplayer modes. With full control over the game modes, you can skip the naff ones and just play the awesome Conquest Vs (which, it should be noted, is broken in three-player, as one player gets half of the board without any to compete with). The randomness and unfairness that comes with it is softened when a mate takes advantage, rather than the CPU. You can even house-rule combos, should you want.
Puzzle games that try something new are pretty rare, so Indigo 7 gets some brownie points. But those points are mostly squandered by too much randomness, duff game modes, a vacuous story and a combo system that files away the fun. There’s a decent multiplayer puzzler tucked away in the corners of Indigo 7: Quest For Love, but this is mostly a failed experiment with only a few interesting findings.
You can buy Indigo 7: Quest for Love from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S