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Publisher: Chronic Logic    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

October 15, 2004 | Ian Beck

Click to enlarge

Sticky and spikes

Put simply, the gameplay in Gish is where this game really attains its brilliance. Well balanced, interesting, and different from every platformer I've ever played, Gish's gameplay marks the game as a one-of-a-kind experience.

Like most platformers, Gish is able to move around and jump (or, more accurately, he expands and forces himself into the air). However, Gish also has a few tricks up his sleeve (well, hidden somewhere in that gelatinous body of his at any rate). Gish can stick to walls, squish up them, and then move across the ceiling upside down, just ready to drop onto some unsuspecting enemy. He can also slide through incredibly tight openings, stick to many objects in the game, and jump extremely high by using the momentum caused by his squishing into the ground from previous jumps or falls. To combat enemies and manipulate the environment, Gish can make himself go heavy in order to fall fast and hit hard.

These abilities are all very well and good in and of themselves, but what makes them great is the physics engine driving the game. Gish's body wobbles, undulates, and otherwise acts pretty much how you would expect a blob of tar to act, and figuring out how to use the momentum created by movement and falling is a big part of learning to control Gish well. Additionally, there's just something really cool about watching the tar that makes up his body splash around while he flies through the air.

Complete with puzzles, traps, and a slew of secret areas, the levels give you ample opportunity to use Gish's abilities to the fullest. The puzzles are also continually new and interesting from level to level throughout the game, so that the challenges Gish faces never get old, and with the high number of secret areas scattered throughout (not to mention the fact that there are multiple endings), Gish has a high replay value. Adding to the fun, there are often pieces of the levels that can be destroyed, tossed around (by sticking to them, getting them onto Gish's top, and then expanding suddenly), or otherwise manipulated. Ropes break, huge stones fall, and even enemies can be tossed around (if you're good).

Level design is very good, and every area has a theme. For instance, some places have lots of spikes everywhere while others have mostly lava. Each area has five levels and a boss level, and it is the boss level where the story really unfolds. Admittedly, it's not much story (and you really don't get filled in on what's going on until the end), but it supplements the gameplay of Gish and helps to move the game along. The bosses are a nice change from the normal run of bad critters, as well, and are for the most part defeated through strategy rather than brute force.

One down side to the gameplay is that the enemies (not including the bosses) are a fairly homogenous group. There are the nibblers, and then the large twisted doll/monster things. Granted, they always look different from area to area, but they all have the same body just with different skins. This doesn't detract from the gameplay particularly, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more diversity amongst the critters that you face (however much fun it is to watch the nibblers rolly-polling their way around).

Bottom line, the gameplay is really what makes this game so addictively fun, and besides just the single player game there are also versus (two people, one computer) and collection (get all the amber--the currency of Gish--in a certain amount of time) modes to keep things interesting.


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