GNOG Reviews

AuthorReview
Slam-Shot-Sam
62,188 (40,740)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 392
Posted on 03 May 17 at 12:49, Edited on 03 May 17 at 12:51
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GNOG | PS4 | Review

GNOG is an incredibly simple game, but, at the same time, it’s quite difficult to quantify. It’s perhaps best described as a colourful, outlandish puzzler in which you interact with a range of living dioramas to solve the problems they pose. Unwavering in its focus on this central concept, the game continuously develops it in engaging ways.

You rotate the dioramas - which take the form of monster heads - to scour their surfaces for tactile knobs, handles, switches and cranks, all of which offer audiovisual feedback to convey their functions and gently guide you towards the ultimate solution as you pull, press, twist and twiddle them. You learn through play, which contributes a nostalgic warmth that had us reminiscing of a time we interacted with favourite childhood toys in much the same way.

Not only does the game take us back in time, but, thanks to PlayStation VR integration, it whisked us away to another dimension. That isn't hyperbole: GNOG oozes style from every pore, and to have that presented in an all-encompassing environment made the experience genuinely transformative.

The detailed, psychedelic world is relentlessly joyful, but never twee, while the focus on simple observation and interaction (rather than having you actively stress over puzzles) makes it a meditative experience that serves to clear your head. It’s like a mellow hallucination, and a constant pleasure to sit back and have it wash over you.

GNOG is also playable on the television screen, but, while it holds up on a fundamental level, the full effect doesn’t quite translate. Even the loading transitions are a trippy treat in VR, literally sucking you into a level, which means just about everything falls somewhat flat on a TV by comparison. ​

GNOG oozes style from every pore, and to have that presented in an all-encompassing environment made the experience genuinely transformative.
Playing in VR isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. The distracting image drifting issue that plagued many of PS VR’s early titles rears its head once again, requiring you to gradually turn in order to follow the action as it goes walkabout at a crawl. This can become uncomfortable over time, in addition to affecting the PlayStation Camera’s ability to track the headset, but, to make matters worse, holding the options button on your controller to recentre doesn’t remedy the issue in this case. Our usual fix in this unfortunate situation - turning the headset off and back on via the inline remote - also didn’t help, leaving the only solution to close and reopen the game, which is far from ideal.

You’ll never lose much progress when doing so, mind, as the game’s nine levels are all relatively short and sweet. There’s no weak link amongst their bizarre and varied ranks, and discovering them for ourselves was all too enjoyable, so we won’t spoil any of them for you. A couple stumped us for a time, but we never became frustrated in the knowledge that answers are always in plain sight; you only ever need to relax and change your perspective for them to present themselves.

GNOG is a window into a weird and wonderful world that’s a constant joy to be a part of. With one simple, central mechanic, the three-or-so-hour runtime prevents the game outstaying its welcome and provides more than enough enjoyment to justify its reasonable cost. If you’re going to play GNOG with PS VR, much like Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin before it, Double Fine (this time in partnership with KO_OP) have a must-buy on their hands.

Pros

+ Observation-based puzzles that don’t frustrate
+ Laser-focused design
+ Brilliantly stylish
+ Tactile, toy-like interactions that see you learn through play
+ VR immerses you in a weird and wonderful world

Cons

- Annoying image drifting issue in VR
- The game isn't as impactful on a TV​

8/10

Trophies

The game's trophies are easily attainable. Most are unlocked through natural progression, though there are also a number of secret trophies with specific requirements, which don't pose much of a challenge when you look up their solutions.

Originally written for Pass the Controller, a copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my Xbox One reviews over at TrueAchievements.

Thanks for reading!
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