Tranquil, that would be the way I’d have to describe my time with Jason Roberts’ Gorogoa. When I say it’s Jason Roberts’ game, I mean it. The art, the story, the gameplay, it all comes from his brilliant mind. At PAX South I had the chance to speak with Jason about Gorogoa. Check out the intriguing trailer below, then read on for the hands-on.
Gorogoa is a game you have to play to understand. The trailer above does a decent job of laying it all out there, but you have to truly immerse yourself in this game when you play. That may sound daunting, but the feat is easily achieved thanks to Jason’s colorful and detailed art work. The game has a way of pulling you in. During my brief time with the demo at PAX, a lot of which you can see in the trailer, everything around me faded away. There was no crowd, the bustle of PAX was replaced by the peaceful score of Joel Corelitz and what was unraveling on the screen before me.
The gameplay is simple to grasp. You are presented with a frame of four panels, some of which will have images in them. These pictures illustrate either a place, an object, or a fragment of time in the main protagonist life. You have to arrange these images, sometimes combining and separating parts of them, on the board in key positions to solve the puzzles. Sometimes the images combine and create an animated scene, other times you’ll have to transport something from one panel to the next.
An example I experienced and that stuck with me when I played Gorogoa at PAX was this: In one panel sat a lone, unlit lantern. A moth lazily fluttered nearby. In another panel a bright star shone in the sky. Zooming in on the images, then moving the picture of the lantern over the star combined the images and trapped the star in the lantern. With a light now emitting from the lamp, the moth landed on the glass. It’s wings calmed, I noticed an odd pattern on the bottom of one. I clicked on it and, as the camera drew in, a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns gave way and transported me to a entirely new scene. It’s hypnotic, mesmerizing. It’s Gorogoa.
Jason did point out that this is still very much a work in progress. While a Spring 2017 release date is the target, much of the art is still undergoing modifications as Roberts hones his craft. What is here is promising however. Every image is full of detail, giving you insight on this strange, fantastical world. Speaking with Jason gave me the sense that Gorogoa is something near and dear to him, personal even. It was clear while playing the game that a lot of passion has gone into it.
It’s difficult to say what exactly Gorogoa is about. Jason said that the story is meant to be cryptic. Studying each panel as it slowly reveals more secrets helps piece together some sort of narrative, but it’s impossible to say what it will all lead to. The pictures transport you through various times of the characters life, to abstract city-scapes, and to other obscure locations or spaces. You’ll have to solve all the mysteries in the images to figure it all out, a task I am truly looking forward to.
You geeks keep an eye out on this game. Gorogoa will be out in the Spring of 2017. It will be on iOS and Steam. Let us know if you’ll be checking out this unique, mind-bending puzzler in the comments below.