I’ve always been a fan of first-person puzzlers. My love for the genre kickstarted when I first played Myst in my younger years, and it’s still going strong now thanks to the likes of The Talos Principle, The Witness, Obduction, and the slew of other indie puzzlers that have released over the last few years. The Long Gate was the latest title in the genre to pique my interest, with its release on the Nintendo Switch giving me the perfect opportunity to dive into some more brain teasers. Nothing like solving some puzzles from the comfort of bed at night, right?
Well, I can honestly say that The Long Gate is the first game I’ve played that has really made me feel like I’m lacking in intelligence. I spent SO long trying to solve some of the game’s puzzles, but not because it’s necessarily a ‘hard’ game. Instead, it’s a VERY clever game that demands scientific thinking and a lot of focus from the player. And there I was thinking that I was experienced in the genre…
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
The core concept of The Long Gate revolves around restoring power to the areas you’re traversing through, with a lit-up path on the ground representing a positive flow of power. Throughout this path, players encounter a series of contraptions connected with wires, with each bringing something different to the overall circuit. Some of these can be interacted with, whether that’s by moving an object to change the energy flow to a node, flipping switches to alter the power, solving small math enigmas, or setting up binary configurations to match the requirements of the circuit. The ultimate goal is to get power flowing to the circuit endpoint, which isn’t an easy task – especially since the puzzles themselves can make up entire rooms, with the scale of each one certainly proving intimidating.
Depending on the difficulty you play on, there will be hints around that give players a basic idea as to how to handle each contraption around them. I’d thoroughly recommend playing on the ‘Extra Nudge’ difficulty setting just to have that helping hand, especially since the puzzles of the game are so complicated in design. Whilst the idea of moving nodes or flicking switches to solve puzzles isn’t uncommon in video games, the way it’s implemented here is on such a large scale that it can be difficult to fully grasp the ins-and-outs of each mechanic.
“My lack of progress through The Long Gate isn’t necessarily because I’m dumb, but instead because you need to be really, REALLY, clever to solve the puzzles.”
So I’ll be honest now and say that I haven’t made a whole lot of progress in The Long Gate. I’ve spent around three hours playing it and hit a point where I feel it’s just become a bit too challenging for me, so much so that I’ve stopped enjoying trying to figure things out. It has been difficult from the get-go really, but some hints in-game and a small learning process did see me progressing at a slow pace, which was fine. I eventually hit a puzzle that completely fried my brain though, so stepped away. I probably haven’t seen a lot of the mechanics that come into the game, which feels criminal given that I’m the one here writing about it.
With that in mind, it would seem I’m not the best person to review this game. I almost felt deflated by it all really, especially since the mechanics are so unique and clever… I really WANT to be able to solve them, but I just don’t feel smart enough to figure them all out. However, when I heard from two other players that they ALSO had a lot of trouble with the game, I felt relieved. My lack of progress through The Long Gate isn’t necessarily because I’m dumb, but instead because you need to be really, REALLY, clever to solve the puzzles.
“I’d thoroughly recommend playing on the ‘Extra Nudge’ difficulty setting just to have that helping hand, especially since the puzzles of the game are so complicated in design.”
I think that’s going to the thing to consider before purchasing the game: are you smart enough to handle The Long Gate’s conundrums? If you’ve got a grasp of engineering and binary, it might be perfect for you. A lot of the puzzles utilise the fundamentals of both, so you might see progress come a bit swifter. Or, alternatively, if you like a challenge where you’ve got to do a lot of learning along the way, you might find it perfect. Everyone likes to feel smart, and believe me, The Long Gate offers a GOOD test of how smart you are.
If you like puzzlers that simply rely on logic and creativity without being too overbearing though, The Long Gate probably won’t be for you. It feels like specialist puzzle-solving in a way, with it catering for a particular audience – I certainly didn’t gel with the game, and I like to think of myself as being experienced with the genre (and generally pretty good at it). It certainly doesn’t make The Long Gate a bad game by any means, but it’s definitely one that will appeal to a particular audience.
Visually, The Long Gate looks pretty enough with its mysterious setting, though the low resolution on the Nintendo Switch does see some blurriness kick in. It can make it difficult to make out smaller details of puzzles, especially when playing on handheld mode – it certainly didn’t help when attempting to solve them. At least the performance was fine though, with no issues encountered when playing.
The Long Gate is a game that requires incredibly clever thinking and a basic grasp of engineering to play, which is both a good and bad thing. For me, it wasn’t ideal; I’ve never played a puzzle game that made me feel so helpless before, with each bit of progress I made met with an even tougher conundrum to solve the next time around. There was certainly a learning curve, but it’s so specialist and cryptic that I just struggled throughout.
On the flip-side, this sort of difficulty will be PERFECT for some gamers, with the intricate and mind-twisting puzzle designs certainly proving appealing for those who think they can handle them. Believe me, the moments where I did progress were so rewarding, especially when I solved the puzzles through clever thinking and not dumb luck.
This hasn’t been a conventional review given the difficulty that I had with the game, but I can appreciate what The Long Gate offers. It’s certainly a unique puzzler and, whilst I didn’t enjoy it as much as others might, I can see the appeal of its intricacy. It might not have been for me, but those who like a genuinely challenging puzzle experience that requires perseverance to unravel will undoubtedly enjoy The Long Gate’s taxing conundrums.
Developer: David Shaw
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC