Critical Play: A Mechanic and a Story to Tell // Goragoa

For this week’s Critical Play, I played the game Goragoa on my iPhone with special attention to the game mechanics and the story. 


Starting with the story, the game is focused on a young boy who reads a story about a mythical creature and feels compelled to collect different types of apples in bowls as an offering to the creature. Throughout the story, the boy ages on his quest to collect these different types of apples and he is ultimately left an old man reflecting on this time spent searching for the mythical Goragoa.


The game is visually stunning. The illustrations were captivating in their own right and the slight animations really brought them to life, I honestly found it difficult to look away. The game over-indexes on the importance of the visual as there is very little other sensory input–the game doesn’t have any narration or music. As such, other than the visual representation of the story, the game leaves the bulk of the burden of interpretation on the player. The game is a puzzle story game, so perhaps the lack of other input was intentional to ensure that the player contemplates the game and ascribes their own meaning to the game. I personally was left with a melancholic sentiment from the game. I think the story of the game is really beautiful and well-created, which brings us to the question of how the mechanics played along with the story. 


The game mechanics are rather simple. The game is a 2×2 grid of squares that the player is able to manipulate. Through the squares the story is told with the beautiful illustrations mentioned above and the player is able to shift the squares to keep the story moving forward and achieve the goal of collecting the apples in bowls. Along the journey, there are small hints that help the player know the next move and there is a lot of room for mistakes and learning along the way. 


I actually think the game mechanics support the slight mystery of the game and lend themselves nicely to puzzle play as you have to figure out the ideal manipulation of the tiles to achieve the games’ goals. I also think the simplicity of the mechanics was really nice as I was able to figure out the game-play rather quickly. 


While I’m not ordinarily a fan of puzzle games, I actually found the game very nice and engaging and I was especially drawn in by the illustrations. I think that there were moments where I was confused, perhaps more than the average person, but I think the story progression did a really nice job of lending itself to finding solutions along the way. Moreover, because the game mechanics are so simple, even when things were at a difficult point it was easy to navigate and try different things until the hurdle was overcome. I think Goragoa is overall a really great example of when story and mechanics work nicely together to create enjoyable gameplay.

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