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Indie Games Uprising III: Gateways

From the creator of The Adventures of Shuggy comes Gateways, a portal-based side-scrolling puzzler that opens with a piece of music that wouldn’t have been misplaced on James Cummins‘ 1991 horror film Boneyard. Not that Gateways has anything to do with a paranormal investigator sporting an aggressive mullet, undead children, dismemberment or a ten foot killer poodle.

Instead we’re cast in the lead role of Ed, an old scientist who leaps like a true English gentleman and awakes confused on the laboratory floor. Clearly something has gone astray, including a monkoid who’s roaming about enjoying its freedom. That is until our old chap takes a page out of Mario’s book and leaps on its head, killing it. Poor blighter.

Gateways retains the ‘80s inspired synthesizer musical score throughout. It put a smile on my face. There isn’t enough genre music in video games. Whenever an expensive composer is sourced it all ends up sounding like a Brian Tyler score: crash, bang, and an orchestral wallop.

Our scientist Ed moves with ease, leaping from platforms, jumping on escaped experiments and solving puzzles. The lab is where the action takes place. Large in size, a user-friendly map gives all the information required. As you search through the deliberate mess, Ed will uncover many gateway guns that have been left to be found.

The gateway guns can be – you guessed it – used to fire gateways against solid surfaces. Two separate gateways from each gun can be discharged at once, allowing you to move between them. Further upgrades for the gun provide new abilities, such as rotating the room or changing size. It’s then that the laboratory really opens up and becomes a joy to spend time in, the puzzles expanding in complexity and reward. There are laser controlled doors, timed light sensitive switches, tiny tunnels and gravity alterations required, if not more. There’s also help at hand.

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Blue power orbs that are conveniently dotted throughout can be collected and exchanged at help points. Spend five orbs and the station will inform you if you’re able to resolve the upcoming puzzle. A further forty will show you how to resolve it. It’s a pleasant in-game alternative to a walkthrough, encouraging additional attempts without seeking online help.

Then it turns into the most difficult puzzle game in memory. The later challenges are mind-bending. One required multiple gateway types and still made no logistical sense after seeing the resolution play out. Trouble is, it’d cost 40 orbs to skip it, and things were just about to define what difficult really is. A moment of despair followed.

Much of Gateways audience who have been captivated so far will at this point either give up or seek an online walkthrough. With multiple gateway guns in use, there are several versions of Ed from different times, rooms being rotated, lasers deflected, pressure pads hit, a ticking timer and one mistake causing the puzzle to reset. Not only must you know exactly what needs to be done but you have to do it with absolute precision.

Get the coffee and paracetamol ready because this bares no bones in refusing to dumb down. The thought of going back to tackle the last two puzzles terrifies me.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

Gentle persuasion

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