Indie Platformer Marathon: LogiGun

It’s inevitable that LogiGun will be compared to Portal. There are obvious similarities: the test-like puzzle rooms, an antagonist who constantly chimes in remotely, and guns that shoot puzzle-related things rather than bullets (although they do not shoot portals). LogiGun even has a female protagonist like Portal does, although it’s a sad reminder of the state of the games industry that simply having a female protagonist is noteworthy. Many people will likely take a quick look at LogiGun and dismiss it as a Portal ripoff, which is a shame, because LogiGun is actually an excellent game in its own right.

While Portal used the single mechanic of portal generation married with an expertly-designed (and often hilarious) narrative to create a short but brilliant game, Logigun instead embraces a myriad of puzzle mechanics, all of which intertwine to form some truly devious puzzles. LogiGun has not one, but four different guns, and each has plenty of versatility for puzzle-solving. When puzzles start featuring two of them at once, things get wonderfully complex.

Of the four guns, my favorite is the gravity crossbow. The puzzles that feature the crossbow involve all sorts of trajectory manipulation, working out how to get an arrow into a seemingly impossible-to-reach spot by manipulating other elements in the level. Since the trajectory an arrow will take is pre-drawn, there’s little to no guesswork involved, averting potential frustrations and making for some very enjoyable puzzles. But it’s the platform gun that’s most reminiscent of Portal’s portal gun, creating two differently-colored platforms instead of portals. And like the portal gun, I was soon using it in all sorts of ways I wouldn’t have expected. In fact, I found the puzzles featuring the platform gun were some of the toughest. Judicious removal of platforms is just as important as creating them, and I often found myself ruining a careful set-up by accidentally clearing out a platform when I didn’t mean to. LogiGun’s puzzles are sometimes tricky to execute in addition to being hard to figure out, which can be frustrating when re-trying entails moving a lot of different things into position first. But that only happened occasionally, and those solutions were especially satisfying when I finally pulled them off.

I should stress that LogiGun is hard (although not quite as hard as Jelly no Puzzle), but I really enjoyed the difficulty. It was tough enough to stump me in most levels, but never enough that I felt I had to look up a solution. Solving each involved experimentation and eventual epiphany, and the complexity scaled just right with level progression. Impressively, nearly every level introduces a new mechanic or concept, and there are a full forty of them to play through, plus some bonus levels from the original Logi-gun (you can read about the history of the game in this blog post by creator Alfred Lam). It’s hard to say how long it will take to finish the game, since it depends on how often one is stumped. A given level only takes a few minutes to complete if one knows the solution, but figuring it out can take a lot longer. I was certainly not disappointed with the quantity of puzzling contained within.

Some may dislike the simple graphical style, but I loved it. It’s a perfect fit for the type of puzzles in the game, where various interconnecting elements must be laid out clearly. For later levels especially, the puzzles resemble giant circuitry, with buttons, switches and other devices hooked up to doors, conveyor belts or force fields, all in plain view. The color-coded force fields are easy to distinguish as well, which is good because they are important elements in the puzzles, with distinct behavior (some block objects only, others block objects and the protagonist, some can or cannot be fired through, etc.). These myriad elements are daunting at first, but their concise presentation means it’s not too hard to figure out their workings and eventually arrive at the solution. Audio is simple too, with a few functional sound effects. I didn’t find the music to be particularly memorable, but it was certainly inoffensive and a good background for some serious thinking.

I also enjoyed the admittedly thin narrative. The puzzles take center stage, but everything’s framed by an intriguing mystery that had me wondering as much about the game’s protagonist as its antagonist. Early on a few tidbits about her are revealed, but the focus soon shifts to the antagonist’s protestations, which double as comic relief. Given the number of levels in the game, these drag a bit in the middle, but I liked the ending and certainly didn’t mind any of the actual puzzles, so it wasn’t a big negative for me.

Whether or not you’ll like LogiGun depends on your patience with tough puzzles and occasionally having to retry a tricky maneuver several times over. Some players will get frustrated fast, but others will find a challenging and rewarding puzzle game with some really impressive design. Portal is an obvious inspiration, so if you liked that game it’s worth looking at LogiGun as well, but LogiGun ends up feeling quite different. The best way to gauge your interest is the free demo. If you like it, the full version has plenty more puzzles that get a lot more complex (and fun) before the end.

Good luck.

EDIT: The Indie Platformer Marathon is now complete! See all the posts here.

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