Gateways, an exploration-based platform game from Smudged Cat Games, can be quickly summarized by saying it's like Portal, but in 2D. That's leaving a lot out of the equation, though, as Gateways goes to great lengths to provide a different kind of experience, one more akin to a metroidvania-type game than that other portal-making adventure. You'll realize that as soon as you start to explore the chunky pixel laboratory, smashing the glass domes over monkey's heads and wondering how on Earth you're supposed to climb over the next ledge.
Meet Ed. Ed is a scientist, quite possibly one of the "mad" variety. While working in his lab late one night, some of his more interesting experiments get loose. Ed knows the best thing to do is just get the heck outta there, and so he does, running through a labyrinth of corridors and collecting gateway guns to aid in his escape. Each gateway gun you equip has its own special ability, but they all possess one great use: the ability to place two portals you can hop through. Use the [left] mouse button to place one portal, the [right] mouse button to place the other, then hop through whenever you like! Later, you'll find new gateway guns that do things like place multiple portals, shrink Ed down to size, or even travel through time. Yes, Ed keeps himself quite busy in his laboratory, it seems.
Gateways plays out in one huge map with natural barriers preventing your progress. As you gain better gateway guns and pick up other items (flashlight, anyone?), you'll be able to solve puzzles that allow access to new areas. Strewn across the lair are help consoles that can clue you in on whether or not you can solve the current conundrum or if you should come back after obtaining another item.
Analysis: Let's address this right up front: don't walk into Gateways expecting it to be a lame (or not-lame) Portal knockoff. If you do, you'll miss out on a legitimately challenging and entertaining indie game. Instead, sit down, clear your head, and watch the professor make his escape. Keep an eye on the map and always note your surroundings while you travel. Many of the backgrounds feature little posters to help mark your way, a nice touch that often breaks the fourth wall.
After you spend some time with the game, you realize that Gateways incorporates a lot of the most time-tested game mechanics from the history of video games, such as laser reflecting puzzles or the old fashioned button-pressing lighting fiasco where each switch turns a number of the lights on and you have to figure out which order to press them. Ok, so it's a minimum inclusion at best, but it defines the aesthetic Gateways shoots for, which is retro-new and addictively absorbing.
Making a successful leap from the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace to the PC world, Gateways is a natural fit for keyboard and mouse control. It's got a great world to explore, riddled with secrets and traps and puzzles, and the quest for more items is one you'll never get tired of. Another thing you'll never get tired of: destroying those blasted hovering monkey things.