Perhaps like most video games in the puzzle genre, pictures don’t quite do Gorogoa justice.
Unfortunately, words are unlikely to either, as to accurately describe the short puzzle game by Jason Roberts (and published by Annapurna Interactive) without spoiling any of its puzzles is an impossible task.
Developed by one man over the course of seven years, Gorogoa is simple but beautiful, with gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations and fluid animations that help tell a touching story.
The real joy of Gorogoa is the originality of its core puzzle mechanic, which needs to be seen in action in order to be fully understood.
Excuse me while I spoil just one early puzzle so that I can at least somewhat explain the premise of the game – don’t worry, this is effectively the first puzzle of the game and used to teach you the basics anyway.
Gameplay takes the form of four small grids, with your aim almost always being to get your character (or an object) from point A to point B.
In the above example, you want to catch an apple in a bowl, which sounds easy enough. To do so, you zoom into a framed picture of an apple tree in your home via one of the grids, shift the bowl panel to the bottom-right position, and watch as the crow sends the apple falling.
The world is comprised of many different environments which can be interlocked via these grids to solve the puzzles, with the end goal being to obtain five coloured orbs.
Nothing is ever spelled out for you, but you’re unlikely to get stuck for too long either; Gorogoa is more about the satisfaction of solving imaginative puzzles than it is about the challenge.
As each grid is only small (although you can enlarge it if you’re struggling to see, though I didn’t find that to be an issue) you’ll be fully capable of spotting any necessary important objects, so it’s up to you to fiddle about with the objects and panels until something clicks.
Eventually, something will click, even if you at first felt unsure about how to proceed, and you’ll feel all the smarter for it.
Of course, that’s actually more a compliment to Gorogoa’s genius design than it is the player’s IQ. The game wants to ease you in the correct direction so that you feel this way, and it does so remarkably well.
Even when the panels started to become more complex with multiple layers to unravel, I was still completely immersed in the game, never once getting frustrated or feeling the need to take a break.
Gorogoa is realistically going to be a game that you’ll complete in one brief sitting, but it’s a true work of art that deserves to be played for that brief time – and remembered long after.
Gorogoa is neither the most difficult or lengthiest puzzle game in the world, but it is incredibly special and unique, something that’s nearly impossible to do in the current cluttered puzzle market.
It’ll only take you a few hours to complete, and understandably not everyone can justify spending £12 on an experience of that length, but if you enjoyed the uniqueness of puzzle games like The Witness and Zen Bound, and appreciate gorgeous, hand-drawn illustrations, this one’s for you.
In fact, I fear we may have published our Game of the Year list too early, because Gorogoa definitely deserves some sort of a mention. It’s the best puzzle game I’ve played all year.
Gorogoa (£11.99, released December 14): Nintendo Switch| PC | iOS
A Nintendo Switch copy of this game was purchased by the reviewer. You can find all our reviews on OpenCritic.