Gish 1.6.1 Review

key review info
application features
  • Dynamic Physics and Real-time Lighting
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Gish it's a not so popular game released back in the 2004 by Chronic Logic studio and developed by Alex Austin, Edmund McMillen and Josiah Pisciotta. It can be considered that Gish is the hipster of the indie game universe, being probably one of the first games of its type to be developed with melancholy initiative in mind.

As most indie games, melancholy is very important. If we take a look at the demographic of buyers of indie titles, most of the clients are adults, maybe even in their thirties, who are willing to pay money so they can relive the golden days of gaming.

Gish is a 2D platformer game with a physics twist. It is among the first game of this kind to implement a serious physics engine that is not just for show, as it really acts as a central core to the gameplay.

Gish was made famous again by an interesting initiative called the Humble Indie Bundle, which strives to promote games developed by independent teams, and tries to sell them at ridiculous prices. Thanks to this bundle, Gish will not be a dust-gathering title on the shelves of history.


The game became open source in May 2010, after the success of the first indie bundle. The developers provide all types of files: .deb, .rpm, and tar.gz binary, all working on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

The installation should run smoothly. We've tested it on an Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) operating system.


Gish is the name of the main character and he's involved in the same old story. Besides being a tar ball with a soul, he also has a girlfriend which is human. She gets kidnapped and the player's quest is simple, to rescue the girl. A “save the princess from another castle” sort of plot.

Gish has two different endings and even if there's death in one of them, the conclusion almost makes it worth your while to finish it.


As I said before, the core of the gameplay is a solid physics engine. Gish is made of tar and he has certain abilities that helps him maneuver through the levels.

Every level is essentially a puzzle in which the player must navigate with great care. There are traps all around, and enemies that just wait to get a piece of Gish. The navigation is easily done with the arrow keys, but the character also has four special powers using additional keys.

The levels are are themselves puzzles. This is obvious later in the game when some sections are quite difficult to navigate because players can't see an obvious solution, but keep in mind to use all his abilities.

He can make himself sticky, which helps him adhere to walls. This comes in handy when crossing various hazards such as huge spikes or over a large number of enemies.

Gish can get tough and rigid, making him a perfect weapon to obliterate any obstacles in his path, monsters or weak walls.

Thirdly, the funny tar ball can also be slimy and mellow, which is useful when trying to get through narrow spaces.

His last ability is the jump move itself. But you know what? It's difficult to jump when your a ball of tar. This is another moment when the physics do their part. Players need to time their jumps in order to match the compression of the character. If successful, Gish will jump higher and higher every time.

The game has a single player and a local multiplayer (Versus) mode, where 2 or 4 players can battle it out.

Gish supports multiple controllers, like a keyboard, gamepad, or joystick, but I find it hard to believe that the mode has too much success.

The Bad

Gish is an old game and it shows. Although the main character is high-def and well defined, the background uses low resolution textures.

The control is not so great either. Despite the advanced physics which endows everything with gravity, sometime it can be cumbersome. Gish moves weird when crossing from one wall to another or when it's time to do a really high jump.

The Good

Gish is still fun to play seven years after the original launch. It has an amazing soundtrack, which is a combination of oriental and jazz music, and an interesting level design.


Gish is an indie game that came out too early for it's own good. It was considered a weird apparition in 2004 and now it feels out of place. It's not a bad title, but I can't find it engaging at all. Maybe it's a personal issue, and others may feel different, but there are a lot of other options on the market to choose from.
user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 3
pricing / value 3

final rating 3
Editor's review

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