Back in August 2017, when ChromaGun first arrived on PS4, I played and reviewed it. In that review I said “Chromagun is a love letter to Portal. Unfortunately, it’s a poorly written one. The last 2 chapters of the game offer some decent problems to ponder but you have to walk through 6 chapters of prosaic, boring puzzles to get there.”
Now, almost 2 years later, ChromaGun is back but this time it’s in VR. While the core content hasn’t changed, some visual upgrades and the increased precision of the controls in VR mean that this is certainly the definitive version of the game and is a much more rounded experience.
For those that haven’t played the non-VR version, ChromaGun VR is a first-person puzzle game that revolves around a core concept of colour. You play as a test subject who has been handed the titular ChromaGun, a sci-fi paintball gun, which has the ability to completely cover the surface of something with a single shot from the gun. The useful device has the ability to fire balls of 3 different colours – Red, Yellow and Blue – and surfaces that already have a colour will be combined i.e. A yellow wall shot with a red ball will turn orange. Broken down into 8 chapters, the game challenges the player to get to the exit door of each challenge room by manipulating worker droids (most of which can also be shot and coloured) that are attracted to surfaces which share their hue.
While you’re trying to figure out each puzzle room, you’re provided with a litany of one liners from a cheeky, dry and sarcastic ChromaTech employee who does his best to lead you astray, like encouraging you to stand on the very obviously electrified floor tiles when you first come across them. While some of the dialogue here is fun, most of it is but an echo of its obvious inspiration, GlaDos from Portal. An example: When you’re killed by an aggressive worker droid, the voice will say “If you’re looking for friendly worker droids… these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”.
The puzzles in ChromaGun VR range from incredibly simplistic to mind bogglingly difficult but almost all of them involve understanding the mechanics of the aforementioned worker droids. For example, in one room, a white worker droid will be stationed close to a switch situated between 2 yellow walls. Painting the droid yellow will attract the worker droid to the equidistant switch between the walls, thus opening a door. Deadly flooring and self-cleaning walls are then introduced. Later puzzles involve shooting balls off bounce pads to colour walls on the opposite side of the room. There’s plenty of repetition involved in ChromaGun VR but it’s all part of a very gentle learning curve which introduces new elements gradually and gives you ample time to understand them. The last 2 chapters of the game are when the game really gets into its own and throws everything it has at you to really test that grey matter. Thankfully, thanks to the VR immersion and visual improvements, getting to these latter chapters no longer feels like a slog.
One of my main complaints regarding the original release of this game persists in ChromaGun VR and that is that puzzles can often become unsolvable. Accidentally shooting an orange wall with a blue paint ball and the wall will turn black for which there is no way to reverse that colour. You’re forced to restart the puzzle in those instances. Some of the longer puzzles do require a little trial and error and making a simple mistake like this 10 minutes into them can be frustrating.
For ChromaGun VR, developers Pixel Maniacs have made some visual improvements to the original. There’s some colourful new equipment which has replaced bland looking barriers that are still in keeping with the clean, sterile aesthetic that’s found almost everywhere else. There’s also so improved particle physics which look particularly lovely in VR. These are only small changes but it does make quite a large difference to the level of immersion this game achieves, which Is to be expected on PSVR.
As for the VR integration, there’s a number of comfort options available which mean that even though it’s a game that allows you control player movement via the controller thumb stick rather than teleportation, it’s very comfortable to play. The game also offers the ability to play with the DualShock 4 controller and the PSMove controllers with the Aim Controller in mind. Both control methods offer a much more precise control of the ChromaGun than the original game but if you’ve got an Aim controller, that’s the way to play it.
It’s the VR control methods that really stand out ChromaGun VR from its non-VR counterpart. Those puzzles with the aforementioned bounce walls can be quite fiddly and tricky in the vanilla version of the game but with the freedom to move the ChromaGun around and find the right angle, they become almost frustration free. Some of the puzzles that were almost infuriating are now enjoyable.
While the core of ChromaGun hasn’t changed since 2017, with ChromaGun VR it’s a vastly more enjoyable and immersive experience, almost as if this was its natural home. While there’s still some frustrations around puzzleS being able to become unsolvable with a simple misfire, potentially throwing away 10 minutes of progress, other frustrations have been cast aside thanks to the VR control methods. As far as I’m concerned, ChromaGun VR is the definitive way to experience this game.
ChromaGun VR is available now on PSVR via PS4 (reviewed on a base PS4)
Developers: Pixel Maniacs
Publishers: Pixel Maniacs
Disclaimer: In order to review this game, we received a code from the publishers. For more information, please see our review policy.
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