Gish (PC)

Gish is a beautiful platform game currently available on Valve’s Steam. You control Gish, a ball of tar, on his journey through the sewers and underground to save a girl. Besides the arrow keys, used for movement, there are four buttons; ‘a’ makes Gish sticky, ‘s’ makes him slippery, ‘d’ makes him heavy, and space bar makes him jump.
The stages and characters all use great art. At first glance, much of the game resembles Loco Roco, but the actual game is quite a bit different. There is a lot of detail in the environment as well as the enemies. Each new enemy I come across has me thinking how cute it is before thinking about how to kill it. Each world has a different theme and look to it, including a sewer, a hellish world, an Egyptian world, and an indoors world reminiscent of Castlevania. The ground, ceiling, and walls are all nice looking and thematic, and the background are quite pleasing. Besides the gameplay mechanics, I think what I like most about the game is the audio. Background music is great and fitting to the theme, while the sound effects are also awesome. The “splat” sound of squishing enemies always leaves me feeling happy.
The controls are a bit odd. Jumping feels clunky at first, but only before you learn how to correctly jump. Jumping from rest will hardly do anything at all; however, jumping while compressed (holding down, falling from a previous jump, etc) will yield actual jumping, the more compressed you are, the greater the jump. To get through small spaces, you will have to become slippery, and to drop through water, smash blocks, or refrain from being squished, you must become heavy. Stickiness lets you roll across the ceiling or up walls, although it’s tricky with gravity pulling you down. It also lets you grab blocks, usually used to press switches. In the later levels, you must master the ability to grab a block, roll until it’s above you, and jump to launch it through the air.
I’ve already played Gish for almost six and a half hours. To really get a feel for it, you would definitely need to give at least an hour. I’ve explained jumping, but you won’t truly get it until you play for a while. Gish won the Grand Prize at the 2005 Independent Games Festival; while I don’t know what else competed, I do know that Gish is a fun game with a twist on the usual platformer.
It retails for $9.95 on Steam but is only $4.95 until the Thursday, the 17th.