In the back of the expo at Pax south, I circle a modest square of real estate shared by four very different games. I’m being magnanimous as my heart is already set on the most beautiful banner in the group. I rest my wandering feet near the counter while I eye the occupied iPads.
The guy at the counter exclaims, “You look very interested in our games!”
“I love beautiful games,” I tell him. “Monument Valley was breathtaking.”
“Oh! We have <such and such game whose name I do not remember> the designer had worked at UsTwo Games.” I glance at the banner, but the artwork is not my style. While it might have an empty iPad, my heart is set. “No, the artwork isn’t my type. I wish to play this game,” I point to the banner featuring the stunning artwork that had captured my attention: Gorogoa.
A captivating puzzler with beautiful imagery; you bend time and space to move the young protagonist through the world collecting five colorful fruits for a magical beast.
The Graphics (10/10)
At the Pax counter, I was told the unique artwork for Gorogoa was all hand-drawn by the creator, Jason Roberts. The elegant sketch style of the images is a far cry from the modern, minimalist design of games like Prune or Monument Valley; they hold their own kind of beauty. One more akin to reading a classic children’s story (as those books are often illustrated) than to playing a video game. Each of the images is a highly detailed work of art. Despite their beauty, the scenes aren’t just a pretty face, the details carry the story and at times, the clues or solutions to the current puzzle; an intense stare into the illustrations as you search for a solution only spawns more appreciation for the artist’s talent.
The Mechanics (8/10)
Don’t watch the youtube video on the website before you play the game. You would be robbed of the second most delightful aspects of play: the mechanics.
When I finally got an iPad at Pax, I sat poking at the screen slightly confused. Do I zoom? Do I poke? How do I move forward? Figuring out the secret to progress to the next step was incredibly rewarding- and it is a satisfaction that occurs at multiple points throughout the game as new puzzles arise.
In short, I found the mechanics creative and solving the puzzle made me feel clever. Exactly two filled me with frustration, but overall the puzzles were enough to stump me, but never so deep that I couldn’t work it out.
The Sound (5/10)
Play the game with headphones. While the strongest driver of the story is the imagery, the sound is a wonderful compliment to the scenes. It’s fluff. I wouldn’t buy the soundtrack; it doesn’t stand on its own, but it works to help transport you into the game and I do think it’s a game worth getting lost in.
As with most puzzle games, I don’t find this to have a large replayability aspect. For me, a lot of the joy in such games comes from solving the puzzles. Once the secret is out, the magic is gone. With Gorogoa, a second play-through allows for more attention to the thoughtful, silent quest of the little boy traveling a world that seamlessly blends reality and fantasy while challenging you to untangle the timeline through which the story is woven.
Exquisite artwork, crafty puzzles and a tangled web of a story to unravel. I highly recommend taking the journey.