Let Gorogoas Art Puzzles Open Your Eyes
Stay on target Review: ‘Fantasy Strike’ Is A Fighting Game That Understands…Game of the Year: Jordan Minor’s Best Video Games of 2018 For too long the definition of “Game of the Year” has been unfairly narrow. How boring is it to see every website shower the same stale AAA games with praise at the end of each holiday season? So at Geek.com we’re doing what we can to put a stop to this in Game of the Year, a new column celebrating worthy alternative picks for the year’s greatest game regardless of genre, platform, year of release, or even quality. Here, any game can be Game of the Year!It’s only appropriate that 2017 would sneak in one final brilliant video game in the very last moments of the year. Just as I was ready to sign off for the holidays I couldn’t help but hear everyone sing the praises for Gorogoa by Jason Roberts, a new puzzle game for Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile. And they were absolutely right. Gorogoa’s ingenious puzzles open your eyes, warp your brain, and touch your heart.Gorogoa’s genius hinges on what it is able to convey purely through visual language, so describing it in words is a bit counter-intuitive. Players try to help a young boy gather five colorful pieces of fruit, and to do so they guide him on a looping journey throughout time and space by manipulating up to four illustrated panels on a two-by-two grid.Confused? Fortunately Gorogoa does an elegant job of grounding players in its high concept, which apparently began as a physical card game. Say you’re trying to get a red apple. One panel may have a bird on a branch while another shows a cathedral. However, zoom in on a window in the cathedral and you’ll see the other part of the branch with the apple. Put these panels together on top, with the boy below, and the scene will complete, dropping the apple into the boy’s bowl.Puzzles gradually get more complex, tasking you with capturing stars in light bulbs or turning pebbles into boulders or using magnets to turn clock hands all through clever and unexpected panel combinations. How you time when you move panels, the specific place you put panels on the grid, and surprisingly even the physics of objects on the panels all matter at some point. Many puzzles also require you to stack panels on top of each other, understanding how to combine four disparate scenes into one layered tableau with added context and meaning. Lift the outline of the boy and a door and put it on top of a new gateway from him to enter.With no fail state and smart restrictions you never get frustrated even if your progress begins to slow down. Gorogoa is all about discovering the hidden connection between things, while vibing out to the Joel Corelitz soundtrack, and sometimes that’s even more satisfying if it takes you a bit longer. You feel like you meditated enough to see the true nature of reality and are rewarded with the ability to gently bend it to your will, to wrinkle through time. It feels like Braid or more recently The Witness, only without the crushing pretension and piss jars of Jonathan Blow.Gorogoa is definitely an “art” indie game, though, which helps explains why a game that’s driven purely through gameplay is being published by film studio Annapurna. The panels themselves feature gorgeous, quaint, intricate, illustrated European artwork with subtle 3D elements. The use of color especially helps you stay anchored to whatever your overall task is in a level as you get lost deeper and deeper into the specific layers and play with scale. Blue objects are worth investigating to find the blue fruit. An old man’s face with a bronze window overlay clues you in about how to get a bronze coin.We won’t spoil anything else though. Like any great puzzle game Gorogoa delights in making the player feel like the smartest person on the planet. That Gorogoa can do that while also rarely becoming obtuse and frustrating is a huge achievement. However, the price of that quality is quantity. Gorogoa is at most like a two-hour game. It’s a dense and satisfying two hours, like a complicated dessert, but I still got through it in a single sitting.Gorogoa’s puzzles obviously don’t have as much impact once you know the solutions. You could breeze through them in minutes. But the game does let you replay earlier sections. And I suspect that’s because the game’s magical realist story gains added resonance a second time through. There are no words in Gorogoa, but the visuals depict this looping story of a man’s life as an innocent boy, a teen injured by war, a depressed adult, and an old regretful man.It’s not just that the story is nonlinear. But the nature of the gameplay itself means the story constantly intersects itself at different points in time. You’ll use something from a scene in the old man’s life to solve a puzzle for the boy and vice versa. It creates this wonderful rhyming melancholy feeling about living all of your life (and death) all at once all the time and how you never stop being influenced by those experiences, which is so true. And this feeling is only stronger during repeated playthroughs, passage of time and all that.We know 2017 already has more great, long-lasting games than anyone could conceivably all play. But we promise if you carve out the time, just a moment, for Gorogoa, you won’t regret the brief, brilliant, and beautiful journey that awaits.View as: One Page Slides1/51. Gorogoa is an ingenious new puzzle game from Jason Roberts and Annapurna.2. Guide a young boy on a looping journey through time and space.3. Solve puzzles by finding the hidden connections between panels.4. Appreciate the layered, intricate, quaint, but gorgeous European artwork.5. Gorogoa is a brief, brilliant, beautiful journey.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.