Double Fine-published games always have some kind of quirkiness/weirdness to them, and GNOG definitely isn’t an exception. Developed by KO_OP, we review the PS4 version.
When we mention PS4, we also mean Playstation VR. GNOG is available to play on both a regular television as well as through a VR headset, though the game plays out the same way no matter which option you choose. In GNOG, you explore nine different monster heads by trying to get inside them and solving the puzzles that await within. See, I told you it was a little weird.
In terms of style, GNOG is certainly a unique type of puzzle game. Its visuals look a tiny bit like Katamari Damacy and other PS2-era titles, but highly polished and from the perspective of looking inside a miniature world. To do this, you first have to unlock said world, which is a mostly easy puzzle to get past before you explore the level properly.
Levels are generally a mix between logical thinking and experimentation. There isn’t a lot of handholding and objectives aren’t always clear, so you’ll frequently end up pressing and pulling random objects just to see what they do. In terms of gratification this isn’t the best puzzle game dynamic you can think of, but it’s presented in such a vibrant way that it’s easy to forgive.
Amidst that trial and error type of gameplay, there’s usually also a ‘grand’ puzzle or two to be tackled in each level, and these are both unique and tied to a level’s setting – which despite a visual resemblance vary greatly between one another. One level has a musical theme, while another is more focused on deep space. It’s as if nine different kid’s fantasies were miniaturized and turned into a puzzle game.
The audiovisual delivery of the game is in sync with the gameplay. Inside most of the environments, you’ll find visual clues to solving some of the more logic-based puzzles – often through patterns or examples. You’ll also find that the music changes subtlely as you progress through a level, as if you’re getting live commentary of the musical variety to what you’re doing. It’s extremely well polished, and both the designs and animations are wonderful to watch.
As I mentioned, GNOG is VR-enabled. If you have the opportunity to play it this way, then definitely make sure you do so. Getting inside a monster’s head and then peeking into these magical little worlds is wonderful to see on TV, but a magical experience in VR. Unfortunately, like a lot of other creatively fueled VR games we’ve tested, GNOG is rather short and over before you’re ready to say goodbye to it. Trophy hunting for secrets can extend the game’s lifespan a little bit, but replay value is unfortunately quite limited. Nevertheless, it’s two hours extremely well spent and fun to play together with kids on your couch if you’re not playing through VR.