Portal-likes are a dime a dozen on Steam, but the genre’s puzzle roots have most every copycat relying on a unique hook. Whether this is magnets or weight, AI or Cthulhu, there is usually something interesting to hold your attention initially. ChromaGun by Pixel Maniacs is no different, with color being the defining factor that sculpts the game’s mechanics. Well, that and giant floating spike balls. Let me try to explain.
Once you get a handle on the mechanics, which features tagging walls to attract balls of the same color with the goal being to place them above certain buttons, the game goes into a smooth rhythm. It was quite relaxing just to watch the game being played, reminding me of an interactive crossword puzzle in terms of mood. Even when I took the stick myself after recording, that relaxation vibe shined through as I played, even as I was contending with the increasing difficulties of the chambers.
The presentation is minimal, with the requisite narrator voice guiding the player through test chambers. That’s all serviceable, but the game really shines when that is stripped away and you’re left with the flow of figuring out puzzle after puzzle, thinking through them and utilizing the tools at hand. Not every puzzle game achieves this, but ChromaGun gets there when the player isn’t contending with the less than perfect controls that plague a lot of these types of games. It’s not going to be for everyone, and there are plenty of options to be had when you’re looking for a first person puzzler, but you could do far worse than to dive into the labs of ChromaGun and spend an afternoon dodging spike balls and painting.