The puzzle genre of video games has always been a very diverse field. From the simple match ups like Tetris to the more mechanically defined games like Braid. Regardless of the form, they are always meant to offer the player some form of challenge. Whether it’s climbing the mountain or just looking for that eureka moment, every designer has their angle on how the game is meant to give you that feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction. Gorogoa is one of those games that is offering not just the challenge, but an experience. Gorogoa takes the player on a journey through four panels to understand the meaning behind the images they are being shown. Designed and illustrated by Jason Roberts, you can tell within just a few moments that this is a labor of love, as the aesthetic of the title is very hand drawn and very detail oriented. As a game that is just as much an experience as it is gameplay, it adds to the conversation that gaming is very much an artform. The question to be answered is what will your interpretation of this piece of art be?
The game starts as you see this boy watching what seems to be a festival off into the distance, and as he sees this mythical creature he becomes curious. He then takes out a book looking into the meaning of this divine beast, and suddenly, we are off. The game revolves around collecting these five fruit that seem to possibly resemble the various elements of life. There is but one mode in this game and that is solving the puzzles and riddles laid out before you to get the boy across the panels to gather these five elements. The gameplay is derived through a setting of four panels in which you can drag and drop the images shown to solve the puzzles in unique ways. Some turn into silhouettes, offering a doorway to the next piece of the puzzle. Others help set the scene to understand what it is to do next. Your mission as the player is very simple, take the information given to find the solve, and by doing so you find out the next piece of your story.
What I Liked:
Beautiful Aesthetic– The game has hand-drawn visuals that can sometimes look simple but are very diverse. The panels are detailed and overall very beautiful to look at from start to finish. Gorogoa also does a great job of changing its look through changing environments through the pictures and adding striking colors to really catch the player off guard. Using these changing dynamics makes for an enjoyable visual experience that is wonderful to look at as you are digging deeper into the clues hidden within.
Unique Puzzles– The four panel system really contributes to a different way of thinking in puzzle games, as you sometimes sit there and ponder how are the two or three panels I’m looking at somehow related. As you solve each, you get the next piece of the story and progress on your way to collecting the five elements. The game does a fantastic job by rewarding your understanding of it’s mechanics by providing those eureka moments that both players new to the genre and puzzle vets will thoroughly enjoy.
Life is what you make it– The story here is only told through the images and puzzles themselves. What this does is really treat the game like any great piece of art, it’s up to your interpretation. To one person this story may be about memory and loss, to someone else it could appear to be a tale introspection and looking back into one’s life decisions. Regardless it is beautiful to watch unfold, even when things get dark. You are always left to wonder what’s next.
The Falling Rock Puzzle– This puzzle is tucked away about halfway through the game and provides a fantastic eureka moment. It uses your understanding of the games mechanics, and paying attention to details in the images to create this crazy moving parts solve that is just more than satisfying when you figure it out. The game has many awesome moments, but this one in particular is a highlight of how not to hold a player’s hand and reward their understanding.
What I Didn’t:
Short is fine — This game for most players probably won’t take long even on a first playthrough, which is fine. However when I was done, I was wishing that there was a bit more to do in the endgame. You do unlock the 2012 demo from when the game was first shown. It is different, but not enough as far as an endgame for those that really enjoy what it has to offer and want more. A bit more content could have possibly done wonders here.
Can you explain? — I really wish I could no more of the mythology behind the creature that intrigues the boy at the start. You feel like you are chasing it the entire game. As much as I love interpretation in video games, it is still nice to have some context to the situation. What are these elements? Fruit? Why do they hold so much meaning to this creature? I guess that can go to interpretation, but I would have loved to have been able to either unlock some insight into the design of this or been given a little more context through the gameplay.
Gorogoa is a beautiful game that I feel does offer a unique challenge to those that love the puzzle
genre, while also offering a beautiful experience that may take one to three playthroughs to fully digest. All in all, it takes you on a journey that I personally feel is more than worth taking. Especially if you are someone that likes to look deeper into how you feel about an experience. Like a classic work of art, it leaves you as the player with the final verdict and how you interpret this story will ultimately decide for you what this is all about. It may be short for the price, however, I’d say it is an experience is well worth the price of admission. From the hand drawn visuals to some of the crafty puzzles it offers, Gorogoa is one of those games that I’m glad didn’t pass me by.
Score: Highly Recommended
Gorogoa was developed by Buried Signal, LLC and produced by Annapurrna Interactive. The game released on May 22, 2018, for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.