Gorogoa Reviews

Official Site Review

By Ethan Anderson, 9 months ago
If you would like to listen to my thoughts on the game while watching some gameplay, you can check out the video review below.

It is a bittersweet feeling when you finally reach the end of a truly great game. Surely, gamers each have their own lists of such games, and the titles may vary in terms of budgets and genres. Buried Signal’s Gorogoa is one of the most inventive puzzle games I have ever played, and it has just been added to my “bittersweet list.” With hand-drawn visuals and creative utilisation of relatively simple gameplay mechanics, Gorogoa may even provide that feeling for those who are not the biggest fans of the genre.


The game’s story is told through nothing but hand-drawn images, both static and animated. There is no dialogue whatsoever, either spoken or written, but it soon becomes apparent that Gorogoa does not need words to tell its story. In it, you will be tasked with guiding a child as he collects five fruits for some sort of fantastical creature. In order for these fruits to be collected, he will need to be guided from foreground to background, through magical doorways, from panel to panel, and even across time. You may not understand much of what is going on story-wise until relatively late in the game, but you will be doing plenty of puzzling on your way to those end-game revelations.

The entire game takes place within four panels in which you will be doing all of your problem-solving. To get past the puzzles in Gorogoa you will need to learn how to use the gameplay mechanics in creative ways. These mechanics include attaching and detaching images, moving images between the panels, superimposing them, and zooming in and out, just to name a few. Mastering these mechanics is important, but if you cannot think outside the box when using them, you will not get very far. In one instance, I used a star in one picture frame to light the lantern in another, to then zoom in on the pattern of a moth that was attracted to the light in order to take an item from its wing. That sentence sounds ridiculous, but it was an odd puzzle that was satisfying to figure out.

The game is challenging and tricky without being tedious or unfair. A number of puzzles are in pieces, spread across the four panels. Most times, you must think of the separate pictures as one whole idea, and it’s extremely pleasing to see everything come together in an animated sequence once a puzzle is solved. That being said, there are a few puzzles that can be overcome by simply using brute force through trial and error.


Even when I was stuck on the game's tougher puzzles, I felt as though they could be overcome after more careful inspection. Giving up never crossed my mind, and this is thanks in large part to the clever level design. Subtle visual cues and hints that guide players towards solutions can be found in many of the illustrations. In fact, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is searching for these hints, which then leads to finding hidden connections between the images. Intelligent level design aside, it also helps that intractable objects are highlighted when any button is pressed if an image is fully zoomed out. Though, this feature can be turned off if you are looking for even more of a challenge.

There is no shortage of positive things to say about Gorogoa, but its one possible detractor is its length. I was able to complete the game in about an hour and a half on my first playthrough, which may be a major or minor negative depending on personal preference. Playtime can obviously vary from person to person, but once you have a good understanding of the mechanics and the puzzle types, certain obstacles can be overcome rather quickly. The end of the game suffers because of this, as the last few puzzles can just be sped through. Sadly, the ending is one of the easiest sections in the game, and it left me wanting more.

Almost as if to say the developers are aware of the game's length, there is some additional content in the form of a 2012 demo of the game. The demo is unlocked after completing the main story. Unsurprisingly, the demo takes less time to finish, but thankfully, it does provide a few new puzzles mixed in with some old ones.


Gorogoa contains a total of 11 achievements, the majority of which are unmissable. Of the few that can be missed, two can be obtained with the use of chapter select, while the rest may take two playthroughs to obtain without the use of a guide. You will need to know how to get past puzzles as efficiently and as quickly as possible in order to unlock the game’s toughest achievements. One requires players to finish the game in less than 30 minutes, and the other calls for a completion in no more than 500 moves.

Check out our Best Xbox Adventure Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

Gorogoa definitely falls into the category of games that I wish were longer, but it is difficult to find many genuine faults with the game. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in originality. The convoluted moth puzzle that I described above was just a short breakdown with steps omitted. In actuality, it was a long and involved sequence with a great payoff. Explaining the ingenuity found in the puzzles is no simple task, as they must really be experienced first-hand to be completely understood. There are many other similar examples that could be given, but they are best left to be discovered for one's self. From the charming illustrations to the unique puzzle design, Gorogoa is truly a top-notch representation of quality over quantity.
4.5 / 5
Gorogoa
Positives
  • Inventive puzzle design that forces outside-the-box thinking
  • Unique and creative use of relatively simple gameplay mechanics
  • Puzzles are intricate and tricky but fair
  • Seeing separate elements of a large puzzle come together via animation never gets old
Negatives
  • The ending leaves a bit to be desired difficulty-wise
Ethics Statement
This reviewer spent 3 hours saying things like "oh wow", "what??", and "ahh okay" as he solved various puzzles while managing to unlock all 11 achievements. A download code was provided for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
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