At its heart, Gorogoa is a puzzle game – but it’s unlike anything I’ve played before.
However, Gorogoa is a much more intricate and elaborate creation. It may not seem like it at first, with its basic framework of a two-by-two grid of square panels to shift around. But it’s what happens within them that’s the clever bit, revealing worlds within worlds.
A story underpins everything, although the narrative is vague. It seems to concern a boy on a quest to collect a set of mystical objects, to stop an angry monster that’s rampaging around his neighbourhood. But locating and accessing these objects is easier said than done.
In Gorogoa’s world, panels can be zoomed and scrolled, thereby becoming windows into surprisingly expansive spaces. Also, frames can often be removed from a panel, revealing further areas to explore, and then overlaid elsewhere. For example, you might place a staircase frame on another panel, to help the lad make his way to an otherwise inaccessible doorway.
This kind of logic is the heart of Gorogoa, and although the solutions to the various puzzles and roadblocks are initially fairly obvious, they don’t stay that way for long. By the game’s third act (of six), muscles are flexed and Gorogoa proceeds to gleefully beat your brains in. Frequently, your visual perception is upended, and you rapidly discover your ability (or lack thereof) to spot patterns.
A cog in the machine
Cracking any puzzle in Gorogoa is satisfying, though, whether you merely zoom a panel and carefully align it to another, thereby creating a new path, or overlay a decorative element on a staircase, which suddenly springs to life as a cog in a temporary machine. The sense of discovery is immense.
One particularly memorable – and devious – test tasks you with breaking a glass cage. Success requires panel movement, zooming, and alignment – all within strict time limits. You feel like a genius when you suss out the precise sequence.
Only occasionally does Gorogoa’s pull diminish, during its more obtuse moments. Late on, you can become lost in the game’s many moving parts, going round in circles when the way forwards is far from clear. Mostly, though, what you get is a few hours of deeply rewarding, frequently surprising puzzling, perfectly suited to touchscreen play.