August 7, 2019

Gorgoa

First released in 2017, Gorgoa is one of those indie darling titles that’s since made its way to just about every gaming platform you can think of.

It’s been on my backlog for ages, and when I finally got to it I opted to play on its original, native platform: iOS. I maintain that iOS is the best console for this kind of tactile puzzle game, and Gorgoa is further proof.

I loved it. You should play it. Here’s why.

Gameplay

Imagine a table top with square illustrations, arranged like tiles. Now imagine that each tile is a window into a small part of a fantastical world, one you can sometimes navigate around. Imagine too that these tiles can be moved, layered, and combined to produce various effects.

Align things correctly and characters can move from one tile to another, while objects in one scene can be used to manipulate and activate things in another scene.

In this way, Gorgoa paints a melancholy, wordless story. Over the course of a couple of hours or so, you’ll help a young boy fulfill a prophetic vision related to a large, beautiful dragon.

Worth a Play

Designed, developed, and illustrated by Jason Roberts, Gorgoa is an intricate demonstration of good game design chops combined with an art style that’s whimsical but familiar.

I was especially fond of the way that scale is used in the puzzles; there are several occasions where you can’t make progress until you match together two or more tiles, but you may have to zoom in or out on some of them in order for the scene to assemble correctly. This forces you to observe each scene with a careful, Escher-esque openness to subverted perspectives.

When it all comes together, it’s profoundly satisfying. And, for the most part, the puzzles are properly tuned to avoid frustration. I got stuck only once, and it wasn’t even on one of the later puzzles, which just goes to show that these kinds of lateral thinking puzzles are difficult to gauge difficulty for.

If you haven’t yet experienced Gorgoa, I recommend you set aside an hour or two to give it a try—I played through the whole thing in a single session one afternoon. Its unique style and melancholic tone come together to form something uniquely captivating.

I’m looking forward to the idea of iOS’ gaming potential being explored more fully with the arrival of controller support and Apple Arcade with iOS 13 this fall.


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