Puzzling Through the Matchless Gorogoa

An exercise in devotion.
User Rating: 9.8

I have always had a fairly vivid imagination. It was (and still is) not uncommon for me to come up with crazy ideas. Usually, those get tempered into something creative, like writing or interesting sermon ideas. Other times they turn into modified shopping carts, lowered to the ground with flames painted on them. 

Please don’t ask. 

There is a certain devotion to the pursuit of wild ideas that ignite the imaginations of those around the source of the original spark. It can be contagious and inspiring. Few games capture this in its raw essence as the game I am about to share with you. This is our review of Gorogoa.

Gorogoa is a beautifully hand-drawn puzzler developed by Jason Roberts and published by Annapurna Interactive (Donut County, What Remains of Edith Finch). While it had originally been announced in 2012, it would take the next five years for it to be reworked from its custom-built game engine to the Unity engine. This rework enabled the game to be accessible to iOS, Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows, and MacOS. Gorogoa can be found on Steam for $14.99 USD and $4.99 USD in the iOS App Store.

Right from the very beginning, Gorogoa invited you to use your imagination. There is no dialogue and no written clues, just your keen observations of what is going on with the story. You have to discover how to move the story forward. 

Gorogoa begins with a boy and his desire to connect with a divine beast through some act of devotion. As you play, you will discover that this divine beast can only be appeased by an offering of five fruits. It is up to you to find them, even if it means traveling through time and space to find them.

All of the gameplay takes place within a quadrant of four spaces. It is here that you will need to manipulate the clues presented to you to solve the puzzles at hand. Some puzzles will have you overlay objects in multiple frames while others will make you use color cues to think in perspectives. Move them around and see what you might create.

As far as length goes, Gorogoa is not a terribly long game. I completed it in around ninety minutes, but I also had the occasion bit of assistance from my darling (and extremely sharp) bride the few times she noticed me staring intensely at my screen with a furrowed brow. Don’t conflate its brevity with the quality though. Each new puzzle felt as satisfying, if not more satisfying, as the last. Gorogoa offers the right level of challenge to make it accessible to a wide range of ages, too.

As I write this review, I find myself wrestling with the tension of experiencing a beautifully crafted narrative to match the design and unleashing the wild potential of imagination to wander into the woods of Gorogoa’s story, allowing it to be what I make it. So, I chose the latter. There are so many allusions to themes in juxtaposition to each other to explore: devastation and restoration, war and peace, the earth and the heavens, the physical and the spiritual – to name a few. And all the while, you are still searching with a child-like wonder to connect with the divine by bringing what offerings of devotion you can. 

Even with all of its beautiful trappings and thoughtful puzzled, I wonder if Gorogoa’s power is not found in that sentiment alone. 

Note: Our copy was reviewed on MacOS with a code provided by PR.

COMPARE TO: Myst, Life is Strange

Summary
You will be hard-pressed to find a puzzling game more beautifully crafted as Gorogoa. Everything from its music to the hand-drawn puzzle frames ignites the imagination to keep search and digging for more. Even with its short length, Gorogoa is a satisfying game. It is also an exercise in asking questions about our own devotion and the lengths that we might go to in order to connect with the divine.
Good
  • Beautifully hand drawn artwork
  • Sparks the imagination 
  • Thoughtful, accessible puzzling
Bad
  • Price differential between platforms
9.8
Amazing
Written by
Born in the heyday of mullets and the El Camino to a tech-foward family, Damien (a.k.a. Dame, PastorDame) quickly embraced the reality that “normal” is just a setting on a dryer. Damien is a pastor by trade and loves talking with anyone who is interested about life, God, and video games (in no particular order) - so, much so, that he and fellow MMORPG/GameSpace writer Matt Keith (Nexfury) create a podcast dedicated to that conversation. At the end of the day, Damien is a guy who loves his wife, his Mini Schnoodle, and crafting gourmet bowls of Mac N’ Cheese.

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