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Community Article: Indie Insights - Gorogoa

Written by John Edwards

Six years is a long time in gaming. A whole console generation can pass in that time. Franchises can rise and fade to obscurity. The next big thing can be found at the bottom of the reduced section gathering dust. But if your game involves thousands of hand-drawn illustrations, six years isn't long at all. 

Gorogoa is the work of one man, Jason Roberts, who quit his job to make this game. The unusual name comes from an imaginary creature he'd thought up when younger and in the game you do see glimpses of something dragon-like throughout. But the main focus of the game is perspective.

I've always been a fan of optical illusions, there's something wondrous about the world-changing entirely purely because you choose to look at it in a different way. Gorogoa takes illusions and puts you in control of them. 

The game is played in a 2x2 grid. You can drag images around the grid and zoom in and out of them. By manipulating the pictures this way you can create new connections, trees in different areas lineup their branches so a crow can drop an apple into a bowl from another place entirely.

Some scenes let you drag parts of the picture away. A doorway can be relocated from one place to another, letting a character step into an entirely different image. You'll light up lamps using stars, or make balls drop in to the top of one scene then move the pictures around so it falls back into the original picture but at a different scale.

It can sound a lot trickier than it is, but it's very easy to get to grips with. Even if you do get stuck you can rely on trial and error if necessary as there are only so many things you can do at any one time.

You never really know what will come next in the game. Several times you'll zoom in to a picture and when you zoom back out the scene will have changed entirely. As the connections between the scenes become more intricate you'll feel compelled to see what comes next.

There's a story running through Gorogoa, told silently and subtly. Initially, there's a boy collecting an apple and some link to mythology, but it soon encompasses war, ageing and rebuilding lives.

The Switch version lets you use traditional controls or the touch screen. Personally, I preferred the tactile feeling of dragging the pictures around and I would typically play it in handheld mode, but having it on the big screen means you can really appreciate the talent behind the illustrations.

Gorogoa is quite unlike most other games. The interlocking perspective tricks are ingenious, it feels very satisfying when everything locks into place and the wider picture becomes clear. I have returned to the game several times after completion just to marvel at the mind behind these tricks. Get this game and enjoy six years of one man looking at the world in a different way.