Use paint, colours and your wits to navigate a series of lab experiments in this innovative first-person puzzle game.
Before we go any further there’s an elephant in the room that we need to address: ChromaGun looks and feels remarkably similar to Portal. Perhaps it’s the omnipresent AI voice that guides you through the game, maybe it’s the lab-like environment with colourful puzzles or it could be the graphical presentation; but whatever the reason, we were constantly reminded of Valve’s classic puzzle game during our time with ChromaGun, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the gameplay mechanics in ChromaGun, because thankfully they’re completely different to anything else we’ve encounter in a puzzle game.
In short, ChromaGun gives you a gun that fires coloured paint balls. You use these paint balls to guide AI robots (each being attracted to a specific colour) and solve puzzles in a massive laboratory environment. That’s not all, because it’s also possible to mix colours by shooting paint on top of other colours, which means you can fire blue paint onto a yellow robot to turn into a satisfying shade of green. This clever use of colour is soon accompanied by trigger switches, droids that can kill you and even cleaner droids who quickly clean up any paint that you fire onto surfaces. It all makes for a fun and challenging game.
ChromaGun was originally launched back in February 2016. Since then the development team at Pixel Maniacs have been busy at working adding Oculus Rift support. The Rift Arcade was fortunate enough to play the latest build on a DK2 headset (consumer headset support is also coming), and although some niggles and bugs are present, it’s a fun and challenging experience. After loading the game a VR-friendly menu lets players alter settings, start a new game or load a chapter. Once in-game there’s a nice sense of scale and presence, although interestingly the paintball gun is locked to the head movements of your characters. It’s not a choice we’d go with, as it means you can poke it through structures and objects when standing close to them (the effect is rather bizarre and can only be experienced in stereoscopic 3D).
Firing paint onto walls on the Oculus Rift is surprisingly fun. The vivid colours really shine in the headset, while the extra sense of depth lets you accurately judge distances and aim with precision. The AI robots also feel surprisingly lifelike. They’re charming when friendly, but particularly frightening when angered, stalking you around the lab with spiky arms that appear to reach out towards your face.
Apart from the fixed gun issue there are a few other niggles with the Rift implementation. The camera has a tendency to “drift” as you move (thankfully there’s a camera reset button), sudden character movements can elicit motion sickness and loading screens always freeze leaving a static image in the headset. It’s also worth noting that there are a lot of loading screens, often in-between individual rooms, which can quickly become frustrating, but these are minor bugs and issues that could easily be fixed before official Rift support launches.
ChromaGun is a charmingly fun game, with plenty of cerebral challenges that keep the experience from becoming boring. It also features one of the funniest AI voice overs we’ve heard, with a William Shatner twang that often flips from reassuring to threatening. There’s no confirmed release date for Oculus Rift support just, but the development team have informed us that it’s incredibly close to being finished and published to Steam. We’ll bring you a full review once it’s live, but in the meantime you can check out the game on a regular desktop monitor by clicking the link below: