Release Date: June 22th, 2012
Developer: Smudge Cat Games
Publisher: Smudge Cat Games
Platform: [Reviewed: PC]
Genre: 2D Platforming/Puzzle
Rated: E for everyone
On the heels of my recent The Adventures of Shuggy Review we have the release of yet another title from Smudged Cat Games. Gateways is a 2D platform game about a lab inventor, Ed, who is trying to escape his very own lab after an outbreak of some of his experiments. It is up to you to navigate Ed through his lab solving puzzles and ultimately helping him escape.
After playing both Shuggy and Gateways it has become very apparent that the guys and gals at Smudge cat sure like their puzzles. So before you get too comfortable at your PC all ready to try and knock this game out of the park you may want to consider putting on your thinking caps. Gateways is no cake walk so be prepared to scratch your head and tap your foot a number of times before figuring out some of these puzzles.
Gateways is about as simplistic as it comes. Now this is not to be misconstrued in a negative way because the simplicities are what really make this game. The controls are simple and straight forward. Both super easy to use and master. You use the A,D to navigate Ed through the lab. The W and Space bar; like most other PC games, is to jump helping Ed reach those higher ledges. The left mouse button is your primary gateway while the right mouse button is the secondary. Sounds easy right? Well it is and they walk you through all the moves and add ons as you are playing. Even when you get your torch (E), and other guns later on this simplicity continues. All you need to do is hit keys 1,2,3, and 4 to select the gateway of your choice. And if you want to get rid of all Gateways and restart simply select C to cancel.
Continuing on with the simplistic theme you have the graphics. Gateways is a 2D platform game after all and we should not expect it to have “Skyrim fantastic” graphics. And lets get real the graphics in a game are only as good as the player perceives them to be. Somewhat comparable to Minecraft, Gateways also gives you that block like look. For me it gives the game a classic feel, kind of a step back in time were I enjoyed games the most, as a child. A time when you just had fun with a game and let the challenges just roll off your back.
Okay so I know what you are thinking – how can the puzzles be “simplistic”?- and yes I did tell you to put on your thinking caps. But simplicity is in the eyes of the beholder! So let’s not confuse a “simplistic” game with an “easy” game. Gateways is the perfect combination of simplistic and challenging. They have found a way to not only challenge you but deliver the puzzles in the most simplistic way possible, preventing the “rage monster” deep inside of you from come out and causing a HULK smash on your gaming device.
Here is how they do it. As you play Ed running through your lab; a single sprawled out map filled with challenges and puzzles, you will see little blue orbs. These orbs are, what you could call, the currency of Gateways. Every time you reach a challenging area/puzzle you will see help points (S). This sophisticated help system will aid you when you just can’t figure out what to do. But be warned it doesn’t just immediately “Solve” the puzzle for you and it will cost you blue orbs to activate.
Help points are activate first by 10 orbs which tell you if the puzzle is solvable or not and secondly 40 orbs, which will ultimately solve the puzzle. If you spend your 10 orbs and discover the puzzle is NOT solvable don’t worry you are never left hanging. You are provided a clue of sorts to help you complete whatever is needed to make that puzzle solvable. In some instances it may simply tell you “something else is needed to complete this puzzle” but sometimes it is more specific like “you must kill all enemies before continuing.” And since the map design is just one big map that slowly unlocks more areas as you play through there is always somewhere else to go if you are stuck or need more orbs.
Ed is equipped with a handy Gateway gun which can be used strategically to help you out with those puzzles. The Gateway gun, similar to that of the gun in Portal, you simply shoot one Gateway on one spot and the other Gateway on another. Doing so allows you to go in one and come out the other. But what truly makes Gateways unique, fun and well just awesome is the different Gateway guns you acquire as you progress through the map.
When the game first starts out Ed is only equipped with his “basic” gun. This gun simply transports Ed form one spot to another. Then you acquire the “Size” Altering gun. This gun will either shrink ED or make him twice his size depending on which Gateway you enter then leave. I often found myself making Ed Gigantic every time there was an enemy. Because who doesn’t like seeing a giant squish the little guys? Next you will find the “time travel” gun. This gun doesn’t only connect to another location but that other locations time. This lets Ed travel back in time and see an earlier version of himself. Last but not least you find the “Gravity” gun. This gun manipulates gravity allowing Ed to walk along walls and ceilings.
Overall Gateways is a must buy if you love puzzles and games with a classic feel and although the graphics are not amazing they do give the game a cute and retro feel. They have also created a new twist with the guns, that was lacking in Portal, and have executed it perfectly in the most simplistic way I have ever seen.
If you are unsure about whether to get Gateways you can download the Demo via their Official Website.
Replay ability: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5