First-person puzzlers are always going to be compared to Portal but ChromaGun practically begs to be stacked up against Valve's classic.
Similarities between ChromaGun and Portal are immediately evident. You start the campaign as a confused, potentially unwilling participant taking part in a variety of tests conducted by a massive, mysterious corporation known as ChromaTec. You'll move between white, sterile, and mostly empty test chambers while using your trusty ChromaGun to solve puzzles and progress.
The ChromaGun fires paint in three different colors: red, blue, and yellow. Hopefully, you remember your first grade color chart because you'll need to remember how to mix those together to create secondary colors.
Each test chamber has paintable walls as well as WorkerDroids (small spherical floating robots that are sometimes equipped with spikes that will harm you if you let them get too close). You'll use these droids and blank slate walls to solve most of the puzzles. This is usually accomplished by painting a WorkerDroid the same color as a nearby wall which causes a magnetic attraction between the two. Using this tactic is usually how you'll get the WorkerDroids to activate the switches necessary to open up the exit of the test chamber.
Puzzles increase in difficulty as you progress through the campaign's eight chapters but they're never mind-bogglingly challenging. In other words, ChromaGun does a good job of making you think for a bit but it will rarely go too far as to fry your brain. Additional mechanics like instant-death electrical tiles and wall erasers add some welcome complexity but hardcore puzzle gamers may find the gameplay to be a little too simple and the difficulty curve is definitely a bit erratic at times.
As you explore the ChromaTec facilities, you'll hear from the cryptic narrator who provides a few details about the sparse story. His commentary is usually welcome and adds a bit of flavor to the experience but it occurs too infrequently. You'll regularly solve several chambers in a row without hearing a word from him. After all, he's no GLaDOS.
While I never ran into any crashes and the only noticeable glitch that I encountered was quickly fixed by the developer, ChromaGun isn't exactly a technical marvel. The frame rate dips from time to time and occasionally causes a slight lag in your movement. It rarely affects the actual gameplay in a significant way but it was certainly a noticeable issue.
Despite having some enjoyable puzzles, the choppy performance and sterile world make ChromaGun a far cry from the genius that is Portal. However, it still deserves to be enjoyed by first-person puzzle enthusiasts looking to scratch their itch for something new.
- + Puzzles that challenge but rarely frustrate
- + Narration is usually pretty entertaining and funny
- + Color mechanics work well and make sense
- - Dull, sterile environments lack creativity
- - More narration would have added life and fleshed out the story
- - Technical hiccups