Gorogoa | game review
Perhaps a little bit too clever.
Game summary: comprised of lavishly illustrated panels that players arrange and combine to solve puzzles. (Steam)
I first tried playing Gorogoa years ago and, despite it's incredibly short length - there's an achievement for beating it in under thirty minutes, which I missed out on by ten minutes - gave up because the increase in difficulty for the puzzles was too jarring when I'd only wanted an fairly simple brainteaser, which the art style hinted it might be.
But, wanting to clear a game from my ludicrous backlog of hundreds, I gave it another go and pushed through to the end, even if some of my solutions to the puzzles presented were a result of dumb luck or simply by just trying everything to get past each frustrating step. There are also some timing critical puzzles, which you need to do first time if you're achievement hunting, but the game will never warn you about them.
It's a shame that the puzzles quickly escalate from simple logic to overly-complex, multi-step solutions although the game's length may have something to do with that - there's also the fact that the developer was taking so long to get Gorogoa out that Annapurna, the publishers, basically forced it to be finished and it may be that there are sections missing that bridge the gap between the simple and harder puzzles.
The biggest reason that the rate of complexity is so drastic proved to be such a disappointment for me is that I very quickly stopped caring about the story, which makes little sense anyway, and I also stopped caring about how the game looks, when it's actually very pretty indeed - in fact, I'd go so far to say that the game's looks are probably the main reason to buy/try this and stick with it to the finish.
How you solve puzzles also looks great, dragging various comic book-style panels into the right places, to either overlap each other to create new images in each panel, or to create larger, multi-panel scenes that are very impressive to see at times when you're so used to seeing smaller images in the four individual panels for the most part - again, it's a shame the complexity of the puzzles means you'll most likely be glad to get them out of the way rather than appreciate how nice it all looked.
If I was to recommend Gorogoa to anyone, I would warn them that they almost to ignore the great visuals and equally enjoyable and non-intrusive musical score. Ignore the 'story' playing out and literally treat it as nothing more than a puzzle game - you should also ignore the style of puzzles for the first third, as they are way too easy in comparison to what is to come later on.
Gorogoa has a great art style and a soothing soundtrack to match it, but the story-telling is so piecemeal that it's difficult to tell what's going on at all - and no explanation as to why - and the puzzles go so quickly from involving simple logic to nonsensical solutions it'll make your head spin. Chuck in the fact that they bear very little thematic or narrative relevance too and it makes you wonder why it's all connected in the first place.