If you’re like me than you are still frustrated that Valve seems to have no plans to do a Portal 3. Portal was a breath of fresh air last gen and one of the most innovative titles we had seen at the time. The puzzle design was great and the humor and story caught us all off guard. While it seems we won’t get a new entry any time soon (or ever) indie developer Pixel Maniacs has something that could scratch that itch. ChromaGun is a new first person puzzle shooter that takes a lot of inspiration from that Portal game but also changes the formula up to make it’s own mark on the genre.
In ChromaGun you play as an unnamed person who has been brought into a facility to help test their newest toy the ChromaGun. Unlike that other game you won’t be shooting portals with the ChromaGun but instead blobs of color. Three colors to be exact which are blue, yellow, and red. As you begin the game you are also greeted by a mysterious male commentator who provides voice to the game much like Glados. While he isn’t as memorable as that character he does provide some funny jokes sometimes while also serving to put you down for your failures.
Now your goal is to progress through each room by unlocking the door at the end. In order to do this you will have to activate pods by getting WorkerDroids on top of them. You do this by painting them certain colors which then attracts them towards other points of the same color. So if you paint a droid red he will be drawn to the nearest red panel. You can also create other colors such as purple, green, and orange by mixing the colors at your disposal together. There are eight chapters in the game and each chapter has an assortment of rooms to solve. They start out pretty simple at first as the game lets you get to grips with what you have to do but the difficulty quickly ramps up as more mechanics are introduced. Things like walls that droids can’t pass or floors that are electrified will leave you scratching your head as you try to work out a solution. Some WorkerDroids will even constantly chase you instead of being attracted to surfaces making for an even greater challenge as you try to work out your current situation while dodging them. When you do solve these puzzles though it feels so rewarding but if you mess up the punishment is a little unfair.
For instance if you mix the wrong colors together on a surface you can end up making it a dark unusable color which can then lead to you not being able to solve the puzzle and having to use the restart button to start over. This wouldn’t be a big deal but instead of restarting you on the puzzle you were on it restarts you from the beginning of the room you are on. Some of the rooms you enter are quite long and have multiple puzzles you need to solve so if you end up messing up on the last one in a room you will be forced to re do all the previous ones which is very frustrating. It really is punishing and a little unfair to set you back like that.
You can probably finish ChromaGun in a few hours which was honestly fine by me as if it had gone on much longer I feel it would have started to drag. The game has some fun little hidden easter eggs that you can seek out though and a Platinum trophy on PlayStation if you’re into that. When it comes to presentation ChromaGun isn’t the most technically impressive game around but it looks good enough. There were a few minor technical hitches here and there that I experienced but nothing too bothersome. There was also an issue where I wasn’t hearing the narrator as intended except when I died. I believe this has now been fixed with a patch but I haven’t been back to test it. Load times could be a little bit faster as well as they felt a little long as I moved from room to room.
ChromaGun is a fun and challenging first person puzzle game that achieves what it set out to be. The game constantly kept challenging me to think in new ways on how to mix the colors and use what I had at my disposal in order to reach my goal. I wasn’t fond of having to replay portions though every time I made a mistake and I made a lot as I got further and further into the game. If you can look past that and are a fan of puzzle games ChromaGun is a must play in my opinion.
*ChromaGun is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher.