The Long Gate | Nintendo Switch Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Anybody who knows me would know that I relish a challenge, no matter how complicated it may seem. However, I think I may have bitten off more that I could chew with The Long Gate. This puzzle-driven physics-based game was developed by David Shaw, published by Inductance, and was originally released on Steam in 2020 before its port to the Nintendo Switch on 29th July 2021. For the purposes of this review, I was playing – or should I say attempting to play – on the Nintendo Switch Lite.
The reason why I may have bitten off more than I could chew, is because The Long Gate requires some sort of knowledge of binary, as well as basic concepts in engineering – both of which I do not possess. The purpose of this game – from what I could ascertain from the levels I was able to play – is that you need to solve puzzles involving power sources and connectors to open doors within this ancient elven-like place, which is found in a cavern. Three keys are required to use at a source point at the beginning, and these can be collected upon completion of each area. No further explanation is provided in the beginning as to the purpose of this. There is also no tutorial provided; however, the controls are relatively easy to master, and at the beginning of the digital phase – depending on the skill level set – you are educated in using the “and”, “or”, and “not” nodules.
You begin in the digital level – unless you are like me and accidentally fall into one of the other levels, which was highlighted in red. I restarted the game as the area which I came across seemed way too difficult for my skill set, while the digital level appeared to be somewhat more manageable. You have only a device which is shaped like a gun that can open gates and later change the input in the connectors using binary. The D pad or left thumbstick provides your directional buttons and A is used as a primary interaction (also L), while X or R is your secondary interaction. You can also jump by pressing B, and crouch by pressing Y. The options menu provides the opportunity to change your field of vision, change the camera sensitivity, invert the axis, set the volume levels, and adjust the difficulty. I began playing in normal mode but needed to adjust down to the easier mode, which can be done at any time. The game also does frequent autosaves, so you do not need to worry about save points.
While I admire the attempt at creating the most difficult puzzle-game possible, I would gather many people would not appreciate a game where knowledge of engineering and binary is a prerequisite. A lot can be said for making a game accessible and turning it to a learning experience for the player. Even in the easiest of modes available, some of the game’s clues were a help up to a certain point, but unless you had some sort of background in engineering, it may be the case like me, that you will reach a point where you cannot really continue any further. The frustration got the better of me many times as I began the game on normal mode, and only when I resorted to easy mode – an extra nudge if you may – I began to make some sense of what needed to be done.
Google became my best friend for any of the elements which were binary-related. I have no experience with binary code, so while I understood the relationship with the “and”, “or”, and “not” nodules and this code for the connectors, such as 1+0=1 when using “or” but it is = 0 when using “and”, trying to figure out the decimal value of a binary number or the components, or the bit number was beyond my previous knowledge. I resorted to using Google and typing in the binary number to find this out so I could manipulate the gate to programme the number into my gun device thing. At this point I felt like a genius, but I was rapidly brought down to earth within another few levels. Tired and having felt I threw everything but the kitchen sink at this game, I sadly gave up.
Aside from the difficulty of this game, I found that its playability on the Switch is somewhat questionable. While you would expect it to be a great game for the Switch size and portability, I found the game very dark, even on the Switch’s brightest setting, and the text was unclear – in particular, when trying to read the information above the nodules when connecting the power. I feel that extra brightness should not deter from the essence of the game – although it is set in a dark temple-like structure, you should still have some idea what you are doing. The game came across as quite blurry, and after checking out some videos on YouTube from playthroughs on a computer, I feel that it is much more suitable on a PC compared to a Switch unless adjustments can be made.
All in all, I would recommend avoiding The Long Gate if you are interested in puzzle-based games but have no experience with engineering or using the binary code. While not overtly advertised as having this requirement, I found myself to be completely out of my depth, even with “easy mode” on. That being said, I would not necessarily fault the game entirely for my lack of knowledge, although some more concise hints may also help to increase game accessibility for all. It engaged me completely, and even when I knew I could not complete much of it, my obstinance to continue set in – I more than likely will give it another attempt. Let’s just say, it is a very quick lesson in humility if you think yourself to be of above average IQ. I do believe improvements to the game display, especially brightness, would help the game considerably. Give it a shot if you dare, however I would consider using the PC for this one.
Tina’s Rating: 3 keys out of 5.
For more information on The Long Gate please use the following links...
Inductance - Publisher | Twitter