I'm not brilliant with words. I can talk for England and have some great ideas, but when it comes to writing things down, especially with any structure, I fail miserably. I once got an A in GCSE having copied the opening chapter of The Stand word-for-word and presenting it to a teacher who was thankfully not aware of the works of Stephen King…
I mention this as the opener of the review should really be an introduction to the game being reviewed, but I feel even some of the great reviewers from the days of ZZAP! 64 would struggle with what The Long Gate is. I'll try to describe it like this: it's Portal meets Myst.
Or it's more like Portal meets Myst made by some very, very clever and sly bastards who have posters of Einstein and Carol Vorderman on their bedroom walls. I'm actually not even sure if it is a game. I never came close to completing it, but feel if I did a few days later I'd be followed home by some fella in sunglasses and a dark suit and handed a card with a job opportunity on it before being whisked away to some secret government installation.
OK, so it's a puzzle game, not just in the tasks around you, but also in actually what is going on, where you are, even who you are. You start in what appears to be some sort of long-abandoned underground city, and there is a sense of wonder and adventure in the environments. They look great and really add to the mystery, but then you get to the actual puzzles themselves, which all appear based around solving analog or digital circuits - I don’t think I ever solved one with anything other than luck.
I'm not a clever chap, I know what I know (and lament never taking advantage of the education afforded to me all those years ago) but never has a game ever made me realise this more. The Long Gate is difficult, confusing, and frustrating, and I walked away often - only to return a while later with a determination that no game was going to make me feel this stupid. The game had other ideas however, and made me realise why my 7 year-old throws her times tables across her bedroom proclaiming that they are "rubbish and silly."
The Long Gate was not for me. I tried, I really did, but it felt deliberately hard. It felt like something I was not even supposed to know about. I mean I have often gotten the correct answer on Only Connect just off the first clue and have been known to answer the odd question on University Challenge, but The Long Gate seems designed more as a trial than a game.
So I'm off to play Tetris Effect. OK, I'm rubbish at that too, but at least it doesn't make me feel like an thicko/idiot/fool/dumbass (you choose which one.)
Special thanks to David Shaw & PressEngine for the review code.