As an avid gamer living in an environment where information and updates on video games are never more than a mouse click away, I’m always finding myself crossing paths with countless games through social media, trailers on YouTube or a recommendation from a friend or family member. All it took for Gorogoa though was a single screenshot to hook and reel me in, its stunning artwork raising more questions than answers as to its specifics. How did you play it? What was this game? Was it even a game?
Gorogoa is a very tough game to describe without giving too much away, a real issue as you can imagine when reviewing it. Simply put though, it’s a short puzzle focused experience that weaves a rather mysterious tale entirely through the use of imagery. This fairly flexible approach to story-telling makes for a journey that pencils in its key beats but leaves a lot open to the player’s interpretation. You’re watching a young boy on his journey to collect five coloured orbs but you’re never really explained why or offered much more detail beyond that. It’s this ambiguous feeling that stuck with me hours after seeing the game’s end credits as I tried to piece together my own version of what I’d just seen play out.
In terms of playing the game, this is handled in entirety by manipulating images on a two-by-two panel grid in order to help the young boy traverse the world and continue the story. For example, you might zoom in on a particular area of a picture and then zoom out only to find the image is now in a completely different scene – a trick the game makes clever use of multiple times throughout. Initially, you may find yourself poking around unsure of what it is you need to interact with, but these random guesses soon turn to educated assumptions as you learn the game’s many twists and tricks. The pictures themselves illustrate a range of objects, patterns and scenes – everything from mountainous ranges and deserts to bookshelves and stained-glass windows.
And while you may find yourself in situations where the four pictures on display appear completely unrelated to one another, by zooming in and out or switching panels you may discover there’s more to link them than initially thought. To reveal how the game makes use of this mechanic in detail would spoil the experience somewhat for a large part of what makes Gorogoa so special is not only discovering solutions to clever problems but also the overall sense of discovery to be found with every new orb the young boy seeks out.
It goes without saying but Gorogoa is a breathtakingly beautiful game where every single picture has so much depth and detail to it. Even the way everything animates has such grace to it not to mention a high level of polish. The fact that everything is hand drawn makes what is accomplished here all the more impressive. The audio too blends together so well with what’s actually unfolding on screen only serving to immerse you even more into Gorogoa’s world.
Sadly, Gorogoa suffers in one key area – it’s criminally short. So short in fact that chances are you’ll see the end credits within a couple of hours. Would it have been nice to see more puzzles and a longer campaign? Definitely, however, when you consider the years designer, developer and illustrator Jason Roberts had already put into this project I’m just glad we got to see his hard work come to fruition. That being said it is a tougher pill to swallow knowing the iPad/iPhone version of the game is under half the price of the Switch one. Whichever version you buy though, the experience is perfect for them.
Gorogoa is a truly mesmerising experience from start to finish whose greatest sin is that it’s all over far too quickly. Your short time spent with the game, however, will take you on a truly memorable journey unlike any other. Beautiful, ingenious and full of mystery, Gorogoa is a game I simply couldn’t put down and one I’m eager to return to again even if just to bask in the magnificent world Jason Roberts has handcrafted one more time.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Annapurna Interactive