Gish (video game)

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PC cover art for Gish
Cover artwork
Developer(s)Cryptic Sea
Publisher(s)Chronic Logic
  • Edmund McMillen
  • Alex Austin
  • Josiah Pisciotta
  • Alex Austin
  • Josiah Pisciotta
Artist(s)Edmund McMillen
Writer(s)Dave Strock
Composer(s)Game Audio Magic
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux
ReleaseWindows, macOS
  • NA: May 10, 2004
  • EU: June 29, 2005
  • NA: September 16, 2004
  • EU: June 29, 2005
Genre(s)Side-scroller, platformer
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Gish is a 2004 side-scrolling platformer video game developed by indie developer Cryptic Sea (pseudonym of Alex Austin) and published by Chronic Logic. A sequel was announced, but subsequently canceled in late 2009 after designer and artist Edmund McMillen left the project.

The game was featured in the first The Humble Indie Bundle in May 2010.[1] Following the success of the promotion, Cryptic Sea pledged to go open source with the game which happened on 29 May 2010.[2] A 15-year anniversary update was published on January 31, 2020[3].


Gameplay screenshot of Freegish.

In Gish, the player maneuvers the eponymous character, a 12-pound ball of tar. Besides movement Gish has four abilities: becoming sticky, slick, solid, and jumping/expanding. When sticky he can climb up walls, stick to ceilings, and plant himself firmly to a solid object. Becoming slick makes Gish slippery and frictionless, letting him slide down pipes and squeeze out of being crushed at same time getting under objects. Being in solid state turns Gish's body into a rigid weight, allowing him to push any object he might have squeezed under, fall faster, squash enemies, smash breakable platforms, sink in water, and resist being run over. To jump, Gish must first compress his body, then expand to launch himself into the air.

Gish's abilities can be combined for use in certain situations - for instance, while both sticky and slick he can climb walls without grabbing loose objects, and while slick and solid he can slide downhill at high speed.


Gish is a ball of tar who lives happily with his human girlfriend Brea, until one day a mysterious dark creature kidnaps her. Gish fights through several levels of enemies in the sewers of Dross until the final boss appears: Hera, Gish's former classmate who has an unrequited affection towards Gish. Gish rejects her, and Hera threatens to drop Brea into a pool of lava. After Gish defeats Hera, he must rescue Brea. If the player succeeds, Brea and Gish escape and become famous entomologists, as well as the world's first legal inter-species marriage. If the player fails, Brea burns to death in the lava pit and Gish goes on to live a life of celibacy, "volunteering most of his time to charity organizations that specialize in bringing lava awareness to the mainstream." In the latter case, Brea's picture is crossed out from the final group photo of the game.



Gish was developed by Alex Austin, Edmund McMillen and Josiah Pisciotta. All of the music and sound effects were created by Tim Smolens and Jeff Attridge of Game Audio Magic. The game features songs by Smolens' band Estradasphere, including Feed Your Mama's Meter from the album Buck Fever. Edmund McMillen frequently uses music by Estradasphere in flash games created for Diverge Creations.

The game was distributed by Chronic Logic and other distributors starting in 2004. A sequel was announced, but subsequently canceled in late 2009 when Edmund left Cryptic Sea.

15 years after the release of the game, Edmund and Cryptic Sea teamed back up to make a 15-year anniversary update. The update included levels cut from the original game, updates to existing levels, bug fixes, and many quality-of-life updates like widescreen support and menu updates. New cover art for the game was provided by TARHEAD[4].

Humble Bundle and open sourcing[edit]

In May 2010 Gish was featured in the first Humble Indie Bundle. Following the success of the Humble Bundle promotion, Cryptic Sea pledged to go open source with the game which eventually happened under the GPLv2 on May 29, 2010.[2] As result, on 3 June 2010 Gish was ported to AmigaOS 4.[5] A hack for the game was created soon after the open-sourcing that allowed Gish to grow larger and smaller.[6]

Community continuation[edit]

Freegish is a fan-made project based on the Gish source code. Freegish has the goal of substituting the proprietary Gish artwork for free artwork,[7] and develops also engine ports for a variety of platforms, including Linux, Mac OS X. Freegish is also well suited for handheld game consoles such as the Pandora.[8][9]

Reception and legacy[edit]

The game was overall well received.[10][11] In July 2016 Steamspy reported for Steam alone over 300,000 owners of the game.[12]


Gish also won Computer Games Magazine's 2004 "Best Independent Game" award.[14]

Cameo appearances[edit]

Gish appears briefly in the PC game Dumbo & Cool in one of the game's later levels.[citation needed]

In addition, Gish is an unlockable playable character in two of McMillen's flash games, Meat Boy and Spewer,[citation needed] as well as a boss, an enemy and an item in The Binding of Isaac. All games can be found on Newgrounds and have been remade for The Basement Collection, while Isaac is a separate game purchasable through Steam. Gish also appears in the Xbox Live Arcade version of Super Meat Boy as an unlockable character. He also makes an appearance in "Clubby the Seal", another game on Newgrounds.

Gish appears in McMillen's game The End is Nigh as a secret NPC.

In "Jelly Escape", a game on AddictingGames, he makes an appearance as an acquired skin.[15]

Gish will also be playable in the upcoming game UFHO2.[16]

See also[edit]

  • Putty - a similarly themed game from 1992
  • Super Morph - a similarly themed game from 1993


  1. ^ Walker, John (2010-05-12). "Humble Indie Bundle Makes Bundle". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  2. ^ a b Gish Open Source on (May 2010)
  3. ^ McMillen, Edmund (2020-01-31). "Edmund McMillen on twitter: "Gish 15 year ani is now live on..."". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  4. ^ "GISH 15th anniversary cover art". Newgrounds. 2020-01-27. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  5. ^ GISH for AmigaOS 4 on
  6. ^ "Early Gish Hacking" on (2010-06-01)
  7. ^ Freegish on
  8. ^ "Freegish on github". Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  9. ^ Freegish on
  10. ^ a b "2004 Independent Game of the Year". Game Tunnel. Dec 31, 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  11. ^ a b c Simon Carless (March 10, 2005). "Gish, Wik Triumph At 2005 IGF". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  12. ^ Gish on Steamspy (July 2016)
  13. ^ "Adventure Game of the Year". Game Tunnel. December 11, 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  14. ^ Staff (March 2005). "The Best of 2004; The 14th Annual Computer Games Awards". Computer Games Magazine (172): 48–56.
  15. ^ "Jelly Escape". TawStudio. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  16. ^ "The Gish in UFHO2".

External links[edit]