Review: Gorogoa (Switch eShop)

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Gorogoa is not your typical video game. In fact, we’re having trouble thinking of any other games that feel and work in quite the same way as this one. Created by the one-man team of Jason Roberts, this seven year-long development project uses a beautiful, storybook-like layout to allow players to interact with elements on each page, manipulating them in specific ways to progress the story.

The screen is divided into four equal parts, with each ‘page’ (or image) of the story taking up one of these four squares. Within each image are places for you to interact – sometimes you’ll be zooming in on specific locations, other times you’ll be extracting a single part of the image and placing it down on one of your other available images to create something entirely new. The whole thing acts as one big puzzle; essentially you must use any clues or hints you can spot to work out what needs to be interacted with, and where it needs to be placed in order to allow things to move on.

You see, Gorogoa is telling a story through the images. With gorgeous animation somewhat reminiscent of the 1982 classic, The Snowman, you’ll be watching – and making – a young boy travel from image to image to collect five orbs. In order for the boy to keep walking, you must have certain images aligned in specific ways or solve puzzles within them to kick-start a new element within the story. At times, you’ll notice that by taking the scenery from one image and placing it onto the one where the boy is currently standing (an archway with a staircase for example), you’ll create a new path and the animation will be able to continue.

This is one of those games where description and screenshots alone simply cannot do it justice; the way that the animations all act independently, but can then all be pieced together. is breathtaking at times. The story and overall aesthetic feel almost philosophical – you might not entirely understand exactly what is happening but your mind is free to come to its own conclusions – and you’ll always be left wondering where you are headed. You may find yourself getting stuck at times with no idea how to progress but, very importantly, you’ll want to keep trying thanks to the grip it can have on you.

There are a number of “wow” moments where the combined interaction across multiple images is incredibly clever. We don’t want to spoil too much here but one section where we had to keep moving images around to allow an object to travel through them, zooming in and out within each image as we did so, left us grinning like a child who had just been given the largest ice cream imaginable. This happened again later, too; a particular highlight was an entire section dedicated to cogs that allowed animations to play simultaneously across multiple images. It was brilliant.

Games such as this one often have a tendency to fall flat by allowing the player to just poke and prod every pixel on the screen to find the answers but, whilst this approach could be taken in some situations if you needed to, the originality of the game’s puzzle design can often put a stop to this. Clues are few and far between and sometimes a simple poke just isn’t enough; you’ll have to mix trial and error with logic and creativity to create solutions rather than simply trying literally every possible combination.

You can play through the game either on the TV or in Handheld mode, both of which work fine – the Handheld option allows you to use touchscreen controls but playing on the TV will allow others to join in and work on the puzzles together (through communication – this is a single player game). You’ll also potentially want to play through the entire game in one sitting – depending on how often you get stuck, you’ll likely see the credits shortly after two hours have passed. We were disappointed to see it end so soon but only because we were so transfixed; we could have happily stayed within Gorogoa’s world for several more hours.

Conclusion

The Switch’s eShop is starting to become saturated with bucket loads of high-quality content. This is great in one way, of course, but stumbling across hidden gems within it will get tougher as time goes on. Gorogoa is one such gem; a game quite unlike any other that deserves your attention. It is a little on the short side, but the creativity that has been put into its design, and the effect it will have on you during your time exploring its gorgeous world, is something that you’ll want to experience. If you’re looking for something new to try, this would be an excellent choice.

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