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Christopher Hall reviews the critically acclaimed Gorogoa - the puzzle game sending waves from players and developers through the gaming industry
There’s something I want to address before I do the review, which is that I didn’t like Playdead’s Inside all that much. I thought is was alright, but considering the general consensus, I’m in quite a small minority of people. The reason for this introduction is that I feel very much the same when it comes to Gorogoa, when it comes to both how I feel about how much I enjoyed the game, and lasting impression I had with the title. As well as how much of a disconnect I have with other people. Gorogoa uses wordless storytelling, open to interpretation, (similar to Inside) and both are puzzle games that last about two hours. As well as that, they’re both very critically acclaimed.
There’s a lot to admire about Gorogoa. It starts with a monster and a man who seem like they need to collect different fruits. I’m not going into any more detail because a lot of the storytelling is trying to figure it out by the pictures, and saying any more in this review would spoil the game. One point of admiration I have for the game, is the fact that it's pretty much unlike anything else I’ve played when it comes to the gameplay. The whole wordless storytelling and open to interpretation is not anything new, but how the puzzles are done are very unique, and this is the biggest achievement of the game.
How the puzzles work is you have one to four tiles, with each of the tiles you can interact with. This can be by zooming in and out, or messing with parts of the tile. You can also separate the tile into different layers. On the 2x2 grid you have, you can move each of the tiles in different places, and sometimes the positioning of the tiles matter. There are moments in this game that are simply genius and brilliant. These are in the first half of the game.
The game is at its best when it introduces its mechanics to you for the first time, as it's really surprising. Once that surprise is revealed from the game, that’s when the game quickly goes from great to a chore to play. That’s unfortunately the case when it comes to second half of Gorogoa. After half the game, you've seen most of what the game can do, and it's much harder to be impressed with the game’s tricks and puzzles as they really aren’t that satisfying to do for the second half of this game.
If you’re the type of person who really values the amount of content they get from their games, then stay the hell away from this title. There’s not much content here at all. I finished it in just over two hours, and it costs £11.99. Now I do value really short games as well as long games, sometimes even more so. They both have their benefits and drawbacks. I absolutely adored What Remains of Edith Finch - a two-hour walking simulator which had some of best storytelling I had seen in quite some time. However, in the case of Gorogoa, I was already fed up with the game after playing it for an hour and a half. Somehow, despite its very short length of about two hours, it still manages to outstay its welcome. One thing to note here is that I did play and finish the game in one sitting, which some may argue might have ruined the enjoyment of the title, but with its short length, I feel it was meant to be played in one sitting.
As far as the story goes I can appreciate what they were trying to go for here. However, I don't like what it tries to do that much. It’s not that I don’t understand it; I think I’ve got an interpretation that is pretty accurate, but that doesn’t mean I like it. At the end of the game my thoughts were “oh, okay”, feeling underwhelmed by the experience at the end of the journey. It uses wordless storytelling with pictures, and tries to blend it with the gameplay, showing parts of the story that was some of the tiles you’re using during the game, and once again, something that I can still admire.
That’s how I feel about the game as a whole. There's a lot I appreciate and admire, but not as much I practically liked as I wanted to. I’m keeping this review short because anyone who plays it should go in as blind as possible. Overall, I get that it’s not for me, and while I did recognise its strengths, I feel others will love it for those strengths more than me. Perhaps most who reviewed it didn’t get as fed up of the puzzles, but for me, I did get fed up of those puzzles. Overall, as far as a recommendation goes, if you’re that type of person who plays videogames for art, then this is something I suggest you pick up on sale, as even I was glad that I played it to experience it. Even if I didn’t enjoy it that much.