Fine, we’ll admit it: the only way we could ever do a Rubik’s Cube was by pulling it to bits and then rebuilding it again. Unfortunately that’s just not possible in this 3D puzzler that cites the classic toy as one of its key influences. Strikingly colourful and unique, GNOG is a game all about exploring giant heads. Rubik’s Cubes and enormous craniums? Yup, we’re just as confused as you. Add in the fact that this is coming to PS4 with Project Morpheus support next year and we need to instantly know more.
“The heads of GNOG are all about playing with tactile-feeling toys and uncovering musical secrets,” explains producer Saleem Dabbous. “Each head has a room or little world inside of it, and each room is packed with a mix of things that all affect the environment in different ways. Each head is a ‘hypertoy’ that contains even more hidden heads within it, which in turn contain toys and other surprises (think Inception, but with heads instead).”
Right, so a Christopher Nolan movie but with heads. We’re all over this. Dabbous thankfully elaborates further on how the game will play out. “What you do on the inside of each head has an impact on the outside and vice versa, so players will have to switch between the two to figure out the links and puzzles behind each noggin,” he explains. “Each head is totally unique, one might be a submarine, one might be a bug, and we have a whole set of musical heads like in the trailer. My personal favourite is the Synth GNOG.”
It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before and once again confirming Sony’s passion for picking indie content that’s a little bit different. “I think the game is really unique, and a lot of the time we struggle with the design because there isn’t much out there that’s like it,” agrees Dabbous. “We do have some great sources of inspiration though, games like Vectorpark’s Windosill and Metamorphabet for their tactile toy-like wonder, and Hohokum’s purely whimsical musical world. Games like Fez have helped guide us in terms of linking our heads together into a larger web or overworld and, more obviously, there’s a rotation mechanic that’s central to our game too!”
The team was also heavily influenced by the toys of our childhood that are probably banned as choking hazards now: Mighty Max and Polly Pocket. “Those toys inspire an incredible feeling of wonder and mystery in kids,” says Dabbous. “When you open your Polly Pocket for the first time and discover what’s inside of it, the joy of discovery, the world building happening in a kid’s mind – those are the feelings we’re chasing. We want players to get excited about each new head because they’re going to discover a brand-new micro-world inside of each one.”
If you’re looking at those images and think it’s all a bit nightmarish, you’d be right. Here be monsters but they’re not in plain sight. “We're really working towards an atmosphere that is both inviting and kind of creepy. Playful and whimsical, but eerie and strange,” Dabbous teases. “The kind of thing that draws you in with bright colours but hides little dark pockets, maybe in a painting on the wall, or in the design of a monsters face. There are also ghosts in the game, but I won't say more about that!”
Inception, Polly Pockets and Hohokum? Just the right amount of Red Bull and it looks like this could be an incredible, if surreal, experience. Consider this a heads-up.