I covered this game in my #BPlaysGames threads on Twitter. It’s got tons of pics and videos and live reactions. You can find the threads here:
Notes on Diversity/Inclusion:
Not much to report on here. Gorogoa is light on characters. There is a boy in a red shirt, and you witness him throughout stages of his life. His skin is brown-ish, so you might assume he is not white. At one stage of his life he appears in a wheelchair, but by the time he is an old man, he is no longer in it.
- There are depictions of war and the carnage it leaves. They are not lingering, but they are there.
I love puzzlers. I love games that are leisurely, and beautiful, and lonely. My first experience of playing a game and truly loving it was Myst. Playing Gorogoa really tapped into that space for me: there is a boy with a red shirt and a blue bowl, wandering around an intricate and Escher-like universe, and you have to guide him through. But he can wait until you find his next path. He is in no hurry.
The boy is collecting five fruits of varying colors–red, green, yellow, blue, and purple. The puzzles become more challenging as you pass through, but never so head-scratching that I needed to look up a walkthrough. The use of space and framing in Gorogoa is innovative and surprising: you play with a set of 4 cards set in a 2×2 configuration. Sometimes they connect and create one continuous image. Sometimes part of one image becomes a stackable frame that can be placed on top of another image–but you have to zoom in or out of the other image to find out what needs to be framed.
There is a narrative underlying the progress through the game. There is a story here about how we destroy ourselves and rebuild ourselves, literally portrayed in the background of the cards you shuffle. Sometimes the scenery is whole and hearty, golden-tinged. Sometimes it is rubble of a mysterious war. But why is the boy gathering the fruits? Why is he sliding through the rooms where his older selves sit? Why are his older selves so careworn and morose? There are no words in Gorogoa. There is no voiceover to ground you. There is just the imagery, so the player can draw whatever conclusions they draw.
The gameplay is delightful. The narrative is muddled, and likely much clearer to the game’s creator than it was to me. The epilogue drew the narrative’s spiritual and redemptive themes into sharper focus. Gorogoa is a labor of love, and a unique and intriguing way to spend a few hours. But I’m not sure it works as a story.
Takeaway & Rating:
This is a phenomenally beautiful and creative puzzler, and I highly recommend it. The narrative it’s trying to tell through the puzzles, though, doesn’t always come through clearly, and the epilogue exploring those themes feels like it comes out of nowhere.