GISH / Cryptic Sea / PC

I'm getting pretty tired of indie platformers with "clever tweeeeeeeests", because I've played a lot of them lately. That's not Gish's fault. Gish actually came out long before Braid and all this other "2d Mario with fiddly puzzles" horseshit, way back in mid-2004, so some points for that at least. Gish is also one of the most unpolished-looking games I've seen, with everything but the main character looking like a '90s Apogee shareware game, but that's not what's really wrong with it either.

It's the inconsistent physics. I just felt often like I was mashing the buttons and pushing forward until something happened. You see, Gish is a sludgy ball of tar - and suitably the game handles like one - goopy, unweildy and clunky. You can stick to ceilings, you can roll on floor, so why can't you stick and roll to walls and ceilings? Jumping is atrocious - you have to bounce in place over and over to gain momentum by hitting down and the jump button together *just* as Gish hits the floor each time. Screw it up once, and you lose most of your momentum, start the bouncing all over again. It's like bomb jumping in Metroid, except mandatory and in nearly every level.

Gish's powers are not entirely well explained either. The game explains some of them, but when you encounter your first enemy, for example, you're not told you actually have a means of attack to deal with it.

The native joypad support w/o config is a nice plus but why do I have to reach for the mouse to clear the menus between levels and make menu selections? Why are little things like this so hard for indie developers?

"Unconventional" by itself isn't good enough, and if something is going to be highly unfamiliar, it needs to be a) really good to be worth the investment in learning and familiarizing with it and b) as helpful as possible to the player in orienting them to the game. Gish really does neither of these things. It's taking on the realm of Kirby and Mario directly yet not offering anything better than what they have. The designers need to go back and look at Kirby 3 for the SNES - which I'm sure they've played - to see how the whole blobby, power-combining thing can be done better and with better level design and more engaging reasons to play to boot.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video
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