Gorogoa: terrible name, fantastic game

I’m not trying to throw shade, but Gorogoa is an awful name. It doesn’t obviously mean anything, which makes it hard to remember. You see it and think you’ll remember it, but when you try to summon it up, it comes out as Gorgonzola, or Goro, or Gangrene or something. So here’s what you need to do: write it down. Get a sticky note, or an erase board, or those magnetic letters on your fridge, whatever works. But write it down, because you are going to want to play this game when it comes out this summer. It’s one of those puzzle games that changes everything.

Remember the first time you played Portal, and you were blown away by the genius of how a simple idea like doorways allowed for such immensely creative conundrums? Gorogoa evokes that same kind of awed wonder, as you bang your head against its puzzles for just long enough before finding the solution and feeling your brain get brainier. Gorogoa’s core mechanic is immediately easy to grasp: you have up to four panels arranged in a 2-by-2 square, and can drag the panels around. The game gives you no tutorial or guidance, so at first you’re just dragging panels featuring stunning hand-drawn artwork around in the hopes of something happening. Eventually you realize that some panels can stack on top of each other, and that a cutout in one will peek through to what’s behind another. Place a panel with a doorway on top of a panel with a meadow, and the boy drawn on one will walk through to the other. 

Other panels attach to their next-door neighbor, others zoom in or out, still others allow you to travel side to side within a single space. You’ll never question what you can do with what you’ve got, but that’s the easy part. Figuring out how they fit together at any given moment is the tricky part, but not so tricky that you feel overwhelmed. With a maximum of four panels at any given moment, Gorogoa cleverly limits your options so that you know the answer is always right there, if only you can grasp it. And when you do, you feel brilliant. The puzzles are exactly the right progression of mental workout, and the art is so beautiful that it’s still enjoyable even if all you’re doing is poking around waiting for inspiration to strike. (Spoiler: That will happen a lot.)

That Gorogoa is a brilliant puzzle game is pretty clear from the start, but what isn’t as immediately obvious is that it also boasts a narrative with some pretty deep things to say about life and loss. It’s easy to miss as you’re performing the necessary mental gymnastics required to advance, so you’ll probably end up playing through a second time just to ensure you’ve fully captured the story. You might even play through a third time to appreciate how the story and puzzles blend so well together.

So, write down the name to guarantee you don’t miss Gorogoa when it comes out on PC and mobile this summer.