Gateways will doubtlessly be compared to both Portal titles if only for the fact that they both offer puzzle solving that revolves around the use of portals. Unfortunately after having played Gateways and both Portal and Portal 2, I must say those comparisons should only be mentioned in passing and not fully examined as Gateways offers things entirely different than the Portal series and vice versa.
Gateways brings something new to the portal slinging genre that has been much needed, portals that do different things. Whether they be portals that change the characters height, portals that rotate the level, or portals that cause time travel. They were all fun to find and use. The game is very much Metroidvania and in all the right ways. For those that don’t know, a Metroidvania game is a game that combines the aspect from Metroid and Castlevania of finding a new tool or weapon and having to backtrack to open a secret room or doorway that was previously inaccessible because the player did not have the proper tool to progress. Along the way to a puzzle players will spot these nice looking blue orbs that can be picked up. These orbs act as a sort of currency and at every puzzle there is a little lamp post type thing and for five orbs it will light up either green or red indicating whether or not it can be solved. For 40 additional orbs the game will take over for you and show you step by step how to solve the puzzle that the player is currently stuck on. If this sounds game breaking in a puzzle game to you, don’t fret the orbs are in high demand and there is no way that player’s will be able to buy the solution to every single puzzle in the game and never have to do any work. There are some puzzles that will almost certainly hurt every gamer’s brain except for only the brightest individuals
My biggest problem in the game was figuring out how to effectively use the rotation gun. Seemingly whenever I used the rotation gun I would not only get completely confused as to where I was supposed be going and would go the wrong way but I would also end up making my objective or the puzzle I was on even harder to accomplish. I found that most people I showed the rotation gun to also had problems getting the hang of it. Luckily the rotation gun is introduced towards the end of the game so it does not rear it’s semi-ugly head for long. The two main guns found before the rotation gun, the time travel gun and size changing gun, were a glory to behold and a ton of fun to play with.
Both the time travel gun and size changing gun took about five minutes to grow accustomed to but once I did I was solving puzzles with them in no time. The time travel gun is super fun to mess around with and solving puzzles by having multiple versions of yourself has never been more satisfying. The gun could also be improved by solving puzzles around the map that unlocked doors or barriers that led to improvements such as being able to have another “you” while using the gun. The size change gun was a blast whether it was because I could suddenly fit in minuscule spaces or I could romp around as a great behemoth, either way I was always smiling and enjoying myself. The size changing gun is less of a game changer regarding puzzles but rather scratched a major portion of the Metroidvania itch Gateways provided me. The size changing gun is the first new gun players can receive and on the way to getting it I noticed countless places that I couldn’t access due to the entry way being way to small for me to fit through. Needless to say as soon as I received the gun I raced back to all the places I had noticed the small gaps and began to explore them.
The only really minor complaint I have is the story. The story is fairly cliche and never really excited me or made me want to keep playing the game. The real reason I kept wanting to play was because the puzzles were so darn addicting. One another big detractor from the story is that whole of the story was relayed via in game text. Granted the story was funny in parts it in no way compared to the constant beat down Portal provides with Glados. The story never took anything away from the game, it just never had anything to add to it.
Gateways is a fantastic game for any fan of the Portal series and puzzle game fans in general. I can’t recommend it enough and with it only costing $1 on XBLIG and $5 on Steam it is a value purchase for sure. If you plan on getting a 100% in the game than it could easily take up to 8 hours while simply beating the game could happen anywhere between 4 to 6 hours. I loved my time with Gateways and hope that there is more to come from Smudged Cat Games whether it be a sequel or DLC of some sort down the road.
Overall Score 9/10
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