When a game only does one thing, it needs to do that thing so well that the absence of other mechanics is not only not missed but not even noticed. Great games like Portal, Splosion Man and even the original Doom made great experiences out of fairly limited central mechanics; although Portal does have some rudimentary platforming, it’s mostly about the titular traversal device, while Splosion Man and Doom are both about explosions but use their focus in different ways.
All of which is to say that if you’re going to strip back your game to its barest essence, you’d better make sure that essence is sound. After all, a game which doesn’t introduce new controls or gadgets to play with could quickly get boring, and boredom is Kryptonite to a video game. Creating a game which, for example, only has one button which does the same thing throughout the entire experience might be a gamble that doesn’t pay off and instead leaves players wanting more.
Despite the risks, that’s exactly what Portuguese developer Serius Games has done with their latest title, G-Switch 3. Available for mobile platforms and web (we strongly recommend the latter), this game is the latest in the G-Switch series, which – strangely enough – includes two prior instalments. Those who’ve played the last two G-Switch games will know, broadly speaking, what to expect,but there are one or two new bells and whistles this time around that still make the experience worth your time.
For neophytes and the uninitiated, G-Switch bills itself as “the original gravity switching platformer”, a claim which is fairly untestable but not particularly important considering how darn fun these games are. Their central mechanic is gravity and the manipulation of same; by pressing the Space bar, players can effortlessly switch from running on the floor to sprinting on the ceiling or traversing the walls, making for some truly mind-bending platforming experiences as the difficulty ramps up.
That’s not to say the experience doesn’t evolve in any significant ways. One of the most appealing things about the G-Switch series is its finely-tuned difficulty curve, and the third game in the series features perhaps the most well-developed difficulty of them all. We didn’t even notice the game becoming harder; we simply adapted to the challenges as they were thrown at us, never feeling like they were insurmountable or even unreasonably difficult. We don’t know if you’ve ever been a game developer, but if you have then you’ll know how much of a delicate balance difficulty can be, so to say that Serius Games absolutely nails the progression here is no small statement.
Of course, the visuals and sound design are doing some of the grunt work too, and G-Switch 3 shines in this department as well. The visuals aren’t particularly “impressive” from a technical standpoint, being as they are largely 2D and stylised, but they do an excellent job of communicating the gameplay, which is all they need to do inorder to be effective. The music is…really, really good. There’s nothing smart or insightful to say about the music; its job is to pump the player up and make them feel like the task at hand is urgent, and the music here accomplishes that with aplomb.
Once you’re done with the main mode (it’s surprisingly long, but it’s still not going to trouble the average triple-A sandbox affair), there are two other modes to enjoy. Endless mode is exactly what it sounds like: keep running, keep dodging, keep switching gravity and try not to die. Endless mode exists for the score-chasers, those who like to consistently better their own achievements; it’s also weirdly relaxing since the impending goal is removed, allowing players to take things essentially at their own pace (although G-Switch 3 is an auto-runner, so you’ll move at the game’s pace). Multiplayer mode, meanwhile, allows you to share the game’s myriad delights with a friend or co-worker, and that’s always welcome.
It’s very difficult not to recommend G-Switch 3, which is why we’re heartily going to recommend it to all and sundry. If you love tightly-tuned platformers with simplistic yet compelling central mechanics, you’ll love G-Switch 3. If you love auto-runners which throw brutally difficult challenges at you while keeping you coming back for more, you’ll love G-Switch 3. If you love the idea of simply being able to dust yourself off and try again rather than dealing with ancillary distractions in a game, you will love G-Switch 3. It’s hard to think of someone that this game wouldn’t appeal to, apart from perhaps the casual crowd; there’s definitely a level of challenge here that some people won’t be comfortable with. If you like your games to test your skills and reflexes, and you don’t mind adapting to a new set of mechanics, G-Switch 3 should already be on your radar.