As far as puzzle games are concerned, Jason Roberts made something really cool. A subdued experience, Gorogoa arrives with no setup, a big narrative cutscene, or even a tutorial of how the game works. Instead, it lulls the player into a relaxed state of being. So much so that I found the game’s ending a sad and unprepared return to the reality. Gorogoa is short, perhaps too short, but the soothing adventure is certainly a memorable one.
Gorogoa is designed with a pretty neat puzzle mechanic. The main game space is comprised of a large square cut into four quadrants where you’ll manipulate a series of images to create passageways into other panels for the protagonist to move through. The barely-there story is an abstract adventure about a young boy following after a large monster whose mysterious appearance has captured his attention. By interacting with the puzzle panels, you’re given glimpses into the boy’s life which are presented out of sequence. Only by collecting five mystical objects will the boy’s story be revealed in order. Finding these orbs is done by interacting with illustrated panels, moving them across different quadrants, zooming in and shifting perspective as needed to create a traversable connection between two seemingly disparate images. The mechanic is simple but does a great job showing off some nifty visual tricks. For example, I had to lead the boy into a door that was far too small for anyone to fit through. However, by sliding that tile into a different position and zooming in, it was large enough for the boy to pass through. Some image tiles even have multiple layers that can be pulled away to reveal a much larger mural behind them. All this sounds neat but is far more impressive in motion.
Jason Roberts was not just responsible for programming the game. He also created the game’s beautiful and evocative visuals. Robert’s interest in comics, which Gorogoa was inspired by, is apparent, given how well his designs tell a visual story. This is important in a game with no text or voice work. Although the art appears simple, it’s colorful, vibrant, expressive and looks fantastic on the Nintendo Switch. The best part about the Switch version is that you can play it just on the tablet - no Joy Cons needed! Sliding, combining, and interacting with the tiles is as easy as tapping and sliding them along with your finger.
If there’s a fault to be found with Robert’s debut, it’s the length. Gorogoa is a lovely experience overall and aside from a few tricky puzzles, the whole thing is over in about an hour or two. I was left disappointed only because I wasn’t ready for it to end. And sadly, unless I’m showing the game off to other people, I don’t see myself going back to play it again. To be fair, not every game has to be a sprawling epic, though. Gorogoa is a cool game but, at the risk of sounding greedy, I wish there was more of it.
Despite this, Gorogoa is worthy of everyone’s attention. Writing about it doesn’t do the game the favor it deserves so walk away, grab your Switch, a cup of tea and unwind through the calming waters of Robert’s evocative creation!
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.