If I ever have the pleasure of meeting Alfred Lam, the creator of the physics-based puzzle platformer LogiGun, I’ll happily buy him any beverage of his choosing. I will, however, place said libation out of reach, obtainable only after traversing a series of deceptively tricky gauntlets. If LogiGun is an accurate indicator of his personality, Alfred Lam wouldn’t mind this. If LogiGun reflects any glimmer of his character then Alfred Lam realises victory tastes all the more delicious when you’ve strived for it.
LogiGun is more than a two-dimensional Portal variant, and deserves consideration separate from Valve’s seminal puzzler. That said, the mere mention of physics, puzzles and environment-bending equipment in the same breath naturally creates the temptation to compare the two and, indeed, first impressions reveal a comfortable familiarity. Beyond the obvious similarity that comes from sharing the same fundamental laws of physics, boxes, switches and an ambiguous narrative framed by a slightly sinister individual conjure up a welcome nostalgia. However it’s not long before LogiGun begins to tease its hand.
During the opening few levels and (relatively) pedestrian challenge of its tasks, Lam is not afraid to demonstrate the rules of the game-world to the audience before swiftly testing them with what they’ve learnt. This is the first tutorial-esque section in recent times that seems to actually teach the player about how to manipulate the environment and how the world operates, without just appearing as an arbitrary set of button-presses impeding your progress. And as the player progresses up the tower, with the difficulty of trials increasing exponentially, the initial lessons will have not been a waste of time.
Yes, the game is set within a tower. The narrative is hardly Lynchian and certainly not a prominent motivator for the completion of the tasks Lam has devised. The game is entirely capable of functioning without the brief interludes, which is to its credit, but it would be folly to describe them as unwelcome. In fact there is a charm behind the tongue-in-cheek musings of the only other character in the game, and the coincidence of events does nothing to distract the player from the gameplay. In fact, there is little to distract the player at all. Taking place in the same environment throughout does render the game’s aesthetic somewhat repetitive, with a moderate change in hue commonplace where other games would up the visual ante. Nevertheless, the player becomes so engaged with finding a solution to reach each level’s endpoint that the eyes barely notice anything more than the position of each platform, switch or obstacle.
It doesn’t take a forum-dwelling, cyber-pedant to realise that I’ve barely touched upon the mechanics of the game and been rather vague with the titular ‘Gun’ element (referring to the inventory used to traverse the levels, the game is completely combat-free). The reasoning behind this is twofold. For one, giving away the facets of gameplay would be like spoiling the plot of a narrative-heavy RPG. Discovering the next challenge and game-changing tool is all part of the fun. Secondly I’m attempting to mask my own ineptitude.
LogiGun is a brutal game, often on purpose and sometimes by accident. There are hints available on occasion, but they seem sometimes to relate to the only obvious part of the task at hand. Sometimes the controls seem slightly slippery, or slightly too cumbersome in an unforgiving world that demands precision. For those who persevere, bragging-rights and a deep sense of satisfaction await. For those after a more lax affair, take heed. Thankfully the background music, courtesy of Lavontae Lewis, often calms those tempestuous moments when the best laid plan fumbles before the player’s eyes.
Alfred Lam should be proud that his work can be held in similar esteem to Portal despite its differences and without any sense of irony. Fans of puzzles, physics and, indeed, challenging gaming will all find something to appreciate in LogiGun. With such a variety of trials and wealth of tribulations one can’t help but consider the sheer imagination required to produce those tasks in the first place. Regarding my personal challenge set to Lam, some six hundred words ago, something tells me that no matter how unreachable I tried to make that drink he would always be one step ahead.