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Game Info:

Gish
Publisher: Chronic Logic
Developer: Chronic Logic
Released: May 4, 2004
ESRB Rating: N/A
Available on: PC, Mac
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer
MRSP: $1.00

Thank you ChronicLogic for giving us this game to review!

Gooey, black balls in games are nothing new thanks to World of Goo, which paved the way for the loveable tar heroes. But before Goo, there was Gish. Way back in 2004 independent studio Chronic Logic created their own gelatinous hero, a 12 pound lump of tar named Gish. After his girlfriend Brea is kidnapped by sewer monsters, it's up to Gish to navigate the labyrinthine tunnels and underground traps of the sewer while defeating the monsters that stand between tar and his true love.

But unlike the black balls of World of Goo, Gish is a character of surprising depth. Not emotional depth mind you, but in his ability to morph into a variety of different properties.

Using "stick" Gish can extend spikes from his gooey body to climb up walls, pick up objects and creatures or even travel on the ceiling. "Slick" turns Gish into an extra gooey form that allows him to slide through especially small passages and "heavy" mysteriously adds density and weight making Gish fall faster to crush blocks and enemies underneath him.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Great lighting and physics effects; tons of content.

Weak Points:

Overly complex controls.

Moral Warnings:

Dark atmosphere; blood and violence.

The three main properties can also be combined to overcome a multitude of enemies and obstacles, including a handful of boss fights that will put your fingers and wits to the test.

However, jumping is something I found extremely difficult to learn. Eventually it becomes obvious that the trick is to hold the up arrow key until the apex of your jump, and hold the down key or even "heavy" as Gish falls. I also found using slick helps keep Gish squishy and easier to bounce when you hit the ground. The concept makes sense, but I still found such a basic maneuver needlessly complex.

Once you have the basics down the game throws a number of twists your way using a surprisingly robust physics and lighting engine. I was often impressed with the way blocks and platforms moved while obeying laws of gravity and momentum. And many times, the subtle lighting and shadow effects took me by surprise. However, the backgrounds feel plain and lack details which begin to reveal the game's age. While Gish himself has some excellent animations that sell the tar character, he also lacks details or definition.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 70%
Gameplay: 14/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Stability: 5/5
Control/Interface: 2/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence: 5/10
Language: 10/10
Sexual content: 10/10
Occult: 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

Despite the cartoon graphics and seemingly cute animations of Gish, the game's tone is very dark and macabre. Enemies may also disturb younger players with their grotesque features and splattering of blood when squished.

The sound effects are satisfying as each plop and smack reverberates as you flop around the sewers, and flattening enemies is always rewarded with a solid crunch. The music is a collection of creepy yet jazzy tunes that compliment the dark, almost gothic art style, but I found the soundtrack lacks any stand out songs that might get stuck in your head.

But if you can get over the dated graphics, spiking difficulty and dark theme, there's a lot to do in Gish. The game comes with three game modes including 34 Single player levels, where you guide Gish through the sewers searching for his kidnapped girlfriend. Collection mode has Gish in a race against the clock collecting amber for highscores, and Versus mode contains six local multiplayer scenarios which pit you against your friends in a collection of minigames including Sumo, Pitfight and Dragster.

In the end however, a great concept and stellar lighting and physics can't hide the fiendish difficulty, complex controls and disturbing violence. Some gamers will relish in the challenge, mastering the pretzel like combinations of keyboard inputs, and are rewarded with a game bursting with content and hidden secrets to discover. But for others, the violence and difficulty may be enough to keep this tar hero in the sewer.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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