I do love puzzles, especially in video games where puzzles help you learn and explore the world of that video game which is why I was very interested and intrigued by The Long Gate on Switch, being new to having this console, I was hoping to find that puzzle experience to have on the move. What I did not expect was to find an experience that was so purely focused on challenging the player with true puzzles and I am not sure this is a title for everyone.
The Long Gate is a very curious game to review if I am being honest, it was certainly not the experience I thought I would have with it and it did genuinely and still challenges what I believed were actual good problem solving and puzzle completing skills. It was very clear right from the opening minutes that this was a game that players could not rely on hand holding or any real guidance was going to be provided. In fact, the opening ten minutes were a big sign of things to come and not all of them were positive.
I will begin with the visuals which both on handheld and when docked to my TV really did not look very good, often blurry in this first-person view perspective and it took me by surprise after playing titles such as Link’s Awakening and Monster Hunter Stories 2, and it was very odd indeed. Another thing I am not a fan of is just how dark everything is other than the puzzles, almost like it is trying to create the illusion that you are in a much bigger environment than you are which felt unnecessary and for most of the time made this a very uninviting world to be in.
The puzzles are very well designed but these are puzzles fully designed at times to be challenging requiring precise problem solving skills such as an understand of how logic gates work which I can see for a lot of people could be unrewarding and nothing but frustrating in a world that is not very appealing to be in other than the well designed puzzle sections but with the blurry visuals for me at least, it was more of a chore to progress through than being satisfied in solving a puzzle and eager to move to the next one.
The controls certainly do not help the situation with the joycons feeling very cumbersome when moving and trying to move the view camera and it only gets worse when you try to move objects in a puzzle for you move as well as the object reducing the precision some of the switches in the puzzles require so you can easily make a mistake or lose track of what you need to be doing forcing you to reset and try again. So many little things combine to make The Long Gate a collection of issues that detract away from the very brilliantly done puzzles.
The puzzles are amazing, some so challenging I even whipped out an actual notepad and pen just to do some classic working out, even putting the game down to try and come up with a solution before attempting a troublesome one again. I truly take my hat off to the design of the puzzles that it really is a shame that the “Game” wrapped around them end up being the weakest element to the experience. The lack of any musical score is a huge absence for me and it just screams to have one to accompany the puzzles and the world. Playing the amazing OMNO at the same time which truly is a world with puzzles, with elements that compliment and enhance that experience to then come to The Long Gate which is devoid of so many of those elements but for clever puzzles just made this a disappointing time.
The only people I could recommend this game for are the die-hard puzzle solvers, this is a game that lacks many of the things needed to create a world that invites players into and to keep them enthralled enough to build up the energy needed to take on the many puzzles. As much as it lacks elements it also has elements that simply detract from the experience with messy controls, poor visuals outside the actual puzzles themselves and lacking any soundtrack makes this an often too dark to see and too silent to make it an enjoyable place to spend time in especially as some puzzles can be 20–30-minute solutions.
It was nice to see puzzles using actual physics and true logic gate solutions that you can really appreciate the effort and the design that went into the puzzles but as I said above, the weakness in all the other elements around the puzzles themselves makes this a very hard title to recommend.