Released: Oct 07, 2018
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Available on: itch.io
Gumgem is a short, rogue-lite, 2D platformer by DAZEL. When arriving at the castle, you learn that the prince of the gummy kingdom has been abducted by the evil gummy bear, and it’s up to you to get into the heart of the constantly renovated castle and save him!
You can jump, dash, and climb walls to navigate 14 rooms full of spikes, defeat enemies, and grab the occasional key. The rooms contain a ton of spikes that you must navigate around, or risk losing your limited supply of HP, which can be replenished through rare (and sometimes hidden) health pickups. It’s quite easy to lose health and even harder to recover it, which caused me quite a few game overs. To enter the next room, you must either defeat all enemies, dash into red orbs, or pick up the key.
Getting anywhere close to the final room is easier said than done, requiring several attempts as you get the hang of the mechanics, reduce the number of hits you sustain, and hoping that the castle’s layout is in your favor. A game over sends you back to the beginning of the castle, so be careful!
Though the difficulty of the game relies more on the spikes than the enemies, there are only three types of enemies. One of them, the gummy bears, are incredibly underwhelming as they bob around left and right, posing little challenge to the player. I would’ve preferred if they had a quirk like the other two enemies, such as the bats instantly charging at the player or the spiders shooting you and needing to be hit from the back.
Artstyle and Audio
Gumgem‘s pixelated artstyle is underutilized due to the lack of diversity in the castle’s rooms. While it is cute (and gummy of course), nearly all the game is spent in the castle, which is dark and gloomy. The music is also limited, with only one slow and gloomy track playing during your trek to the final level. Overall, I feel there could’ve been more effort put into the artstyle and audio.
While the game’s controls and emphasis on spikes seem to be inspired by the indie hit Celeste, released earlier in 2018, Gumgem stands on its own merits with its different and more jolly approach to the story, and its use of randomly generated stages.
Gumgem is a short platformer game, which you can complete in an hour or two depending on how fast you can adapt to the game and its myriad of randomly generated rooms. With each run taking about 5 to 10 minutes, the game is also well suited for speedruns. For a small rogue-lite without the complexities of tools, navigation, and resource management, you can’t go wrong with Gumgem especially with its low price!