On Twitter, Vlambeer developer and cofounder Rami Ismail praised indie puzzler Gorogoa: “[It] makes you feel clever for simply following along with its cleverness,” Ismail wrote. “It makes you feel joy for simply poking around. It makes you feel wonder for figuring out connection, and it tells a story through all of it.”
That bit about the game sharing its cleverness with the player is something that I felt, and it’s what makes the new release from developer Jason Roberts and publisher Annapurna Interactive so magical.
Gorogoa (read GamesBeat’s review) is Annapurna’s followup to the widely beloved narrative adventure What Remains of Edith Finch. Like Finch, Gorogoa is a beautiful, quiet experience, and one that still has reverence for the idea of systems and mechanics. It is almost like a hidden-object game mashed up with a classic point-and-click adventure to create something new. The point is to help a boy traverse a series of scenes to collect special objects. To enable the boy to progress, you must examine these scenes by zooming in on them and shuffling them around a four-panel field. These images do not obey Euclidean rules of geometry, and that means you take a door from one scene, slide it over another, and enable the boy to travel instantly between two spaces.
What I love about Gorogoa is that while the puzzles are all linear with one solution, Roberts has done the work to make you feel like you are the reason you are moving forward. The key way he accomplishes this is through Gorogoa’s distinct, mesmerizing art. You can see in the video above that at certain points of the game, you’ll have to figure out how to combine and arrange the panels to move ahead. And in each of those windows, you’ll find visual clues.
Those clues are simultaneously subtle and obvious to the point that you may not notice them consciously as you’re shifting things around looking to move forward. But, if you do happen to stumble into an answer, you’ll likely immediately recall the clues. As I’ve done this, I’ve credited my subsconscious for helping me progress — even if I don’t know if that’s what is happening. But the point is that, as Ismail said, the game is so well built and competent that it passes on that sensation of competency to you as the player.