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Review – Gish (PC)

Chronic Logic | Released: 05.04.2004 | Rated: Teen

The Short: An ambitious and interesting 2D Platform title that is hindered by it’s clumsy, gimmicky control scheme.

The Long:

The phrase “Physics based” is a popular one these days with Indie developers it seems.  It’s essentially a buzz term to define a game in which objects are “realistically affected by gravity”.   It’s also the entire focus of the character Gish and his gimmick.

Gish is a gelatinous ball of oil, or goo, or… something….  He’ll have to do the best he can to manipulate his structure as he travels across the world in search of his kidnapped girlfriend.  This is definitely an old school throwback plot line, 80s game characters were never very good at keeping track of their women.  The next best thing a hero can do besides save the world is save his woman.

This little blob, having no arms or legs, has only his own self to assist himself in his travels.  This brings in the game’s gimmick, and it’s primary weakness.  Through use of controls, Gish can be made fluid, to slide through small cracks and holes, made more solid, to crush enemies and break things, or made sticky, to climb walls.  Gish can also make short hops and can jump higher based somewhat on elasticity and the compression of his body when he’s on the ground.

Jumping is one of the more annoying aspects of the game.  You can only make small jumps from a stand still though jumping in succession at Gish’s most compress point will cause him to rebound higher.  This means that in order to make any jumps you’ll have to repeatedly bounce up and down, which is generally time consuming.  More annoyingly, the only real way Gish has to attack enemies is to jump at them and become solid to cause damage.  This wouldn’t be so bad except as mentioned before, Gish’s default jump is pathetically weak so even killing basic enemies becomes trickier than it really should be.

The second major annoyance comes from the wall climbing.  It doesn’t quite work the way one would expect (see Metroid’s Sticky Ball).  If you are attached to the floor and the wall, you’re going to end up stick to the floor unable to climb.  This often means timing your jumps to latch onto walls higher up or onto ceilings.  Once again, like jumping, it’s not overly difficult to accomplish, it just raises the tedium level of playing considerably over the fun level.

It’s not to say it’s a terrible concept or design, it could just use a bit of polish.  As the saying goes, Your Mileage may vary” but i generally find I’m pretty good at “Physics based games” and still found this game too frustrating to get excessively far in.  Which is kind of sad because I really wanted to like this game more than I did.

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