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ChromaGun: The Little Puzzle Game that Almost Was

Since it’s release, Portal has been a darling of the gaming community. The puzzles have been innovative and the portal gun has led to some amazing mechanics that everyone struggles with. Portal provided such great memes to the gaming community with tear jerking destruction of the companion cube to questioning if “The cake is a lie”. Portal was created by valve and put the player into a world that was linked to the Half-Life world and seeing a unique perspective of Aperture Laboratories. The writing, and story and game mechanics of Portal have been so unique that no game developer have tried to clone the game in fear of the high standards the community will put on any game that tries to duplicate the experience.

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To call Chromagun a Portal clone does not do the game fair justice. You play as a volunteer who has “chosen” to test out Chromatec’s new ChromaGun. The weapon allows you to shoot 3 different colors on certain surfaces and worker droids in order to solve the rooms puzzles and get through to the next stage. Throughout your testing a commentator makes humorous quips and guides you through the laboratory. There are no “portals” to jump through or companion cubes to save, but I am wondering if the cake is a lie in this game.

The ChromaGun allows you to shoot the three primary colors that we all learned in grade school, that is blue, red, and yellow. As the test subject you can use these primary colors, but you can also mix two of the colors to create purple, orange, and green or even mix all three colors to make black. The games puzzles start you off easy, but ramps up in strange ways to force you to work through the problems in trying to manipulate the worker droids to their designated position to open doors and drive you to the end of the test environment. Chromagun adds a unique twist to the worker droids, as certain ones will be aggressive and charge at you if they aren’t near a color that will attract them, and the developers use this behavior to create some interesting puzzles where you are playing follow the leader to get the spheres to the correct door trigger.

The script for the narrator creates greatly humorous comments which I found myself chuckling at and really captures that sarcastic nuance that Portal has done so well. The graphics of the white laboratory rooms really set a mood that the company isn’t trying to hurt you and keep things nice and soft, yet there is a big counterpoint to this when you have to navigate all the traps and worker droids that want to kill you if they aren’t close to the color that attracts them. The sounds and music are simple and clean and don’t detract from the hilarious nature of the game and script.

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With all of this, there are a few concerns with the game. First, it is relatively short and leaves me wanting more levels and puzzles to solve, but this was also the same issue that I had at the end of Portal and Portal 2 as puzzle games always has you hoping there is just one more level. Secondly, the issue I had with this game, similar to all other puzzle games is that once you’ve beat it there is no replay value left, these types of games require that you walk away from them and leave them alone for years to forget the puzzles before coming back and solving them again. Third, if you screw up with your paint, you have to start the whole puzzle all over and there were times I wished I had an erase or whiteout option in the game so I wouldn’t have to go through the whole level all over again. Finally, there is an excessive amount of loading for the game. ChromaGun is split into chapters and levels, and for each level you have to load the next room, which leaves a good portion of your time just sitting through load screens and affected the fun of the game.

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ChromaGun provides a great addition to the puzzle genre and has a lot going for it that really allows it to stand out and differentiate itself from being called a Portal clone. However, the flaws in the game really mar the experience and affects the experience of the game and Redonkulous Gaming gives the game a 7 out of 10 because of these flaws.

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