Wednesday 16 October 2019

Gorogoa review: Slide into relaxing night on the tiles

Gorogoa (iOS/PC/Switch) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Curiosity killed the cat, but in Gorogoa it gets you places. This remarkable one-man project took more than six years of painstaking experimentation and reworking before its emergence as a delightfully realised puzzle.

Mixing the metaphor of a Matryoshka doll with the mechanic of a sliding tile game, Gorogoa hides its storyline in layer upon layer of painterly scenes that can be combined, realigned and reordered. Notionally the story of a boy trying to feed a dragon, it asks the player to seek out hidden commonalities and links between the 2x2 comic-like panels.

What starts simply - position a bowl to catch a falling apple - evolves into complex tiers of arrangement playing with perspective, light, shapes and physics. The observant player will note how the world shifts through time and place with the flick of a tile. Meanwhile, the gentle soundtrack (the only contribution not made by creator Jason Roberts) tinkles away in the background, an ingenious collage of sound from the four panels that is mixed on the fly.

It's the kind of game that puts a smile on your face when you marvel at its audacity and applaud yourself for your cleverness in unravelling its stacks of mystery. If you've ever got lost in a book, you'll find the same heartwarming sensation in Gorogoa.

Oh My Godheads

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★ Age: 7+

Shoving and shouting on the couch used to be the default enjoyment mode for multiplayer games before the internet spoiled us. Oh My Godheads belongs to that select band of couch multiplayer games defying the trend, pitting up to four people in a bearpit with a twist.

Like a slightly demented version of Super Smash Bros, OMG tasks players with carrying a godhead (think: Egyptian statue) to a goal while fending off rivals.

It's frantic, of course, multiplied by the disconcerting properties of the godheads themselves, which variously reverse your controls, freeze your movement or explode.

If you're billy-no-mates, OMG feels utterly pointless, the AI doing a poor job of competing. With friends on the couch, it's an amusing diversion but not nearly as entertaining as genre classics such as Overcooked.

League of War: VR Arena

(PSVR) ★★ Age: 7+

Strategy games can work well in VR (see indie classic Korix, for instance) but League of War can't quite make a success of its tabletop real-time strategy battles. It works like any typical RTS - prioritise the building of military units to attack the enemy armada doing the same.

It looks fine, too, but the problem is that the gameplay never develops beyond frantically constructing units to send off to war. The creators forgot the strategy bit of this strategy game.

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