Wednesday, January 24

Review: ChromaGun [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Finding yourself in a somewhat sterile clinical environment you’re tasked with solving puzzles to make your way through a series of rooms. Given direction and some prompting to act by a sometimes-humorous omniscient voice who tracks your progress you will need to make smart and careful use of a high-tech sort of gun you’ve been provided to help manipulate the environment. For anyone familiar with the Portal series ChromaGun pretty nakedly aims to recreate some of the touches that helped make it special. Unfortunately in this case comparison only serves to harm the game a bit, reinforcing its mostly generic overall feel.

ChromaGun is all about using your tri-color enabled weapon to shoot unshielded panels of walls or spherical robots (some more dangerous than others) to change their color and help you make your way through levels. Typically this will be done by making their colors match, which will attract the robot in the direction of any wall segment with a matching color. There are times when this can create an interesting sort of tug-of-war situation with multiple segments all pulling a robot at once, though you can easily change things by simply changing the color of those segments. There’s an unfortunate side to the way this works with all colors being additive, as once you over-paint a crucial wall segment or spherical robot they’ll be permanently black. Since there’s no undo or clear color option this will result in a few level resets.

Perhaps worse, though, is that you can see why the developers tried to emulate Portal. Aside from offering a first-person perspective for solving these puzzles it doesn’t really do much to make a lasting impression. There are some clever puzzles to be completed, no doubt, but the gameplay is generally as sterile as the environments you’ll be working in. Unfortunately, though some of the trappings of Portal are present absolutely none of the intrigue or heart come along for the ride. While you’ll see some cracked or missing panels in some of the rooms there’s nothing deeper or subversive going on behind the scenes to match the meta-narrative that made it special. In addition there’s simply not enough creative variety possible with your paint gun by comparison so on most levels inviting people to contrast the two titles may have been a misstep.

In the end ChromaGun is an interesting perspective (quite literally) on a puzzle game and offers a series of clever challenges that will test your planning and patience. If you’re able to appreciate the details of presentation for what they are rather than perhaps what they were aimed to be that will also help greatly. While it isn’t quite on target, for puzzle fans looking for some variety it delivers something unique on the Switch.

Score: 6

  • A different perspective on puzzle games
  • Some clever mechanics and puzzles provide a challenge

  • Ultimately not a lot of variety in the nature of the puzzles, just complexity
  • Inviting comparisons to Portal without delivering comparable heart and laughs was a misstep
  • No color reset option requires a few more level resets than feel necessary

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