The original ChromaGun, by developer/publisher Pixel Maniacs, came out back in 2016/2017 for PC and Mac. It was announced quite a while ago that it would get a Playstation VR adaptation, and we’ve been eagerly anticipating it ever since. It’s finally here – here are our impressions.
The reason we were looking forward to ChromaGun VR was two-fold: it looked like it was going to be the closest thing to playing Portal in virtual reality, and it also had support for the underused Playstation Aim controller. It succeeds in fulfilling both promises, but when it comes to Portal it still feels like it’s not quite up to the level of the game that inspired it.
That’s true in a number of areas. Visually, the game immediately reminds you of Portal with its extensive use of white walls and ceilings. Portal, however, felt a bit more polished and detailed visually – and ChromaGun pales in comparison to Portal 2, even though that’s almost eight years old now.
The Portal influences on the audiovisual presentation also extend to the audio portion of ChromaGun, with a voiced narrator egging you on and cracking a few pretty decent wisecracks while doing it. It brought a smile to my face on numerous occasions, but I couldn’t shake the “this isn’t quite as good as GLAdOS” feeling either.
Where ChromaGun differs most from Portal is in its core gameplay. Sure, they’re both puzzle games with a few action sequences thrown in for good measure, but ChromaGun puts it on spin on the genre and it probably works better in VR than Portal would have. I’d imagine that Portal’s “enter a portal here, come out somewhere else completely” might be hard on VR players, especially those prone to VR motion sickness. ChromaGun’s core mechanic lies in the ability to shoot color paint on walls and/or enemies, and the fact that the same colors will attract one another (and thus pulls the objects with that color closer together). You can use this to move objects out of the way (or in place), or to take out pesky droids (by painting them and seeing them slam into a nearby wall of the same color). It works great, and without any of that motion sickness.
ChromaGun does especially well when paired with an Aim controller, which transforms into your in-game “paint gun”. It’s not as rich of an experience as Doom, Farpoint or even Arizona Sunshine, but it’s one of the best uses of the controller – as well as one that’s not just a straight up shooter. There are a few sequences that are more action-oriented (and being chased down a hallway is pretty thrilling) as well, and they are some of the more immersive moments in the game.
A very enjoyable Portal-inspired puzzler, ChromaGun VR finally brings the genre to VR in a way that works very well. It lacks a certain amount of polish that keeps it from being “Portal in VR”, but it’s the next best thing right now.