GAUGE
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Gauge is extremely simple to play, but that is exactly why it is so addictive. Anyone can instantly learn how to play the game, but to achieve the big scores requires focus and concentration. This is easier said than done with the game actively trying to break your concentration and mess with your eyes. The psychedelic visuals can cause quite an eye strain so this is a game best played in short bursts, but overall it is a lot of fun.

Gameplay: Very simple, but surprisingly addictive and challenging.

Graphics: Extremely psychedelic and definitely not recommended for anyone with an epileptic condition

Sound: The electronic music and sound effects fits the game perfectly

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GAUGE

Developer: Étienne Périn | Publisher: Neko Entertainment | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Casual / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

GAUGE is one of those games that are ideal for when you feel like killing some time, but don’t want to invest hours in something more in-depth. Your only purpose is to chase a high score and pressing the Spacebar key is the only thing required to do so. Occasionally you may have to press Spacebar and Ctrl, but that is about as complicated as things get in GAUGE.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that GAUGE is easy though. Tapping Spacebar controls the length of your gauge, but if it touches the inner or outer edges of its confines you lose a life. The closer you can get your gauge to the outer edges the more points you score, but the easier it is to slip up and lose a life. This risk versus reward mechanic makes for very tense and addictive gameplay sessions. There is only one power-up in the game and it always appears close to the inner limit of the gauge bar. You can take a risk and let the gauge drop down in order to grab it, which nets you a bunch of bonus points as well as the option to activate a second gauge that you have to control with the Ctrl key. Using the second gauge doubles your score, but since it moves at a different speed than your primary gauge it can be tricky to prevent them from touching the outer limits.

GAUGE would have been a little boring if tapping Spacebar and Ctrl was all there was to it, so in order to make things a bit more challenging the game continually tries to distract you from your task. Text will randomly pop up in an attempt to draw your attention away from your gauge and pulsating colors place an extra strain on your eyes. The game also plays dirty with stuff like screen shakes and blurring to really mess with your concentration. In fact, things become so psychedelic that the game warns players with epileptic conditions to consult their physician prior to playing. Usually these types of warnings are just in place as a precaution, but in GAUGE I would say that it is absolutely essential that players take heed. This is definitely the type of game where it is probably a good idea to take frequent breaks while playing if you value your eyesight.

While originally a mobile title, GAUGE works pretty well on computer and the psychedelic retro visuals doesn’t look out of place. The price has also been kept pretty low and considering that there are five game modes available I would say that it offers pretty good value for money. In “Normal” mode you try to attain a high score before you run out of lives. You can achieve extra lives while playing and your lives actually serve as your score multiplier as well, so it is not a good idea to waste any if you want to climb the leaderboards. “Baby” mode makes things a bit easier while “Hard” mode on the other hand only gives you one life to play with.

Finally there is a “Timed” mode which only gives you a certain time limit in which to achieve a high score and “Touch” mode where you are only allowed to press the Spacebar a certain amount of times. These modes actually offer some nice variation and will keep you playing for much longer than expected. The PC version also includes some Steam achievements, but don’t expect them to be easy.

The electronic music in GAUGE is a nice match for the psychedelic visuals, although it is also designed to lull you into breaking your concentration. Getting too caught up in the music can cause you to start timing your button presses to the beats which rarely ends well. I wouldn’t call GAUGE a relaxing game as blinking at the wrong time can literally cost you a life, but like all score chasing games it will put you in that hyper focused zone where you can forget about your surroundings.

The game is being advertised as an experimental and minimalistic sport game, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it is like anything you might see on ESPN. To the casual observer, it will more than likely resemble something that might have been used by some secretive government agency or cult to brainwash people. For all I know they might be correct as I enjoyed the game way more than I thought I would and it is something that I will return to regularly.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Compatible DirectX 9.0c
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Audio standard
  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Compatible DirectX 9.0c
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Audio standard

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