Game Review : Gateways
What do you get when you combine the complex level design of Metroid with Portal’s critical thinking? Simply enough, a decent indie game.Gateways is, in spirit and gameplay, the child of these two stupendous titles, and without a doubt, Smudged Cat Games have taken a fair amount of creativity from both titles to create this one.
You play as Ed, a brilliant scientist who happens to be locked in his own lab by a mysterious individual. As you explore the lab, Ed realizes that the gateway guns (of his own invention) are scattered throughout the laboratory, and must find them to escape.
Sadly, that’s really the depth of the story, and it doesn’t go further in-depth with characterization. The game’s linearity is what kills it. Every time the players retrieves one of the gateway guns, they get one step closer to retrieving another gun, and never actually find anything conclusive about the lab or any of its finer details.
For example, the soundtrack makes the player feel as if they truly are in a lab with that eerie but yet very majestic sound. It’s amazing that you can hear computers working in the background, and even bubbles popping in the laboratory feels like you actually are inside the lab.
This is the same case for the graphics. There are a bunch of pods, pipes, and the lab itself looks like it was performing high end experiments based off of how some lights don’t work, or how the lab looks like it has some parts that are totally ruined. It even has machines that have bubbles in the background to add to the soundtrack, but yet never truly focuses it. This is not truly a bad thing, because the atmosphere makes the game very fun to walk around, but the lack of story just makes the player inevitably realize that the game could be so much better if it had a story.
Sadly the gameplay is very lacking as well. It primary focus is on trying to be a miniature copy of both Metroid and Portal. It uses the same map style, the same critical thinking that was seen in Portal, but never fully utilizes the potential that it could have gotten from these two games, nor does it branch out on its own either.
For example, Metroid utilized the map allowing players to back track on their own will to collect items, or find secrets to unlock, or to find something that would be useful to for the next puzzle. Gateways is completely the opposite. It forces the player to backtrack so much that it becomes sickening. It’s worse when the game forces you to go from point A to point B, but not letting you go to point D to explore or try getting the weapon.
Gateways also doesn’t utilizes the gateway guns to its full potential either. It lets you gather a fair amount of weapons, that’s for sure, but it never truly lets the player utilize them the way they want to. The developers don’t allow the use of two gateway guns at the same time, nor do they allow figuring out puzzles using different ways which makes it absurdly limited, even though this was the way the game was designed to be played.
However, on the plus side, Gateways holds great ideas. The variety of guns that are available in Gateways is amazing (take that Borderlands!). The first ever weapon allows you to just go from one location to the other, but other weapons allow you to manipulate time, and even more.
The puzzles themselves are amazing as well. Each puzzle takes a lot of thinking and a lot of guess and check. However, there really didn’t seem to be enough of them. Furthermore, there were objects called blue orbs that could be used to solve puzzles in small amounts, thus making the challenge of the game disappear altogether.
There are enemies as well in the game. Each one is essentially the same. However, they contain a bit of a difference such as one being bigger, or the other one being completely blue, or completely red. Some enemies are completely impossible to kill, which makes it very challenging. However, the challenge is gone when it’s quite obvious that the enemies don’t really have any sort of AI. They are forced to move in certain directions at certain speed, and if the player misses to hit them, they will lose a great amount of health.
Finally, Gateways doesn’t seem to be fully customized in terms of resolution. The game can go into full screen mode, but the game window seems to always have a borderline that makes it quite irritating.-
Overall, Gateways is without a doubt a fabulous game. Its main problems lie within the concept that it’s just a miniature copy of both Metroid and Portal. Even when it shines some light upon its players to show its originality, it fails, because it only lets the player use one gateway gun thus making it limited. However, based on what Gateways is, and how incredibly enjoyable it is because of its high demand of critical thinking and creative puzzling, the game does deserve a look from fans of Portal, as well as anybody seeking a puzzling challenge.