Gorogoa Developer Jason Roberts Demos His Mind-Twisting Puzzle Game At The 2014 Fantastic Arcade

By Alex Riviello , Updated Sep 18, 2014 11:25 PM EDT

Gorogoa is not exactly the kind of game that works with a crowd. Developer Jason Roberts knows this, and as he tried to show off his puzzle-game-that’s-not-a-puzzle-game to the crowd of people drinking at the Highball during this year’s Fantastic Arcade, he admitted as such. But even with the clinking of glasses and the murmor of conversation in the background, the crowd quieted each time he showed the way the game worked.

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At its most basic it looks somewhat like a sliding puzzle. There are a number of panels that are full of seemingly random piece of art, and each can be explored at will- clicking on various parts of each panel make events occur, and you’ll guide characters around and take objects from each panel to use in others. It’s a bit tricky to describe but you’re basically trying to get all of the panels to make sense and work together in harmony .

Much of the game’s charm is derived from the art style, which is hand drawn in the truest sense- Roberts drew it using pencil and paper before scanning it into the computer. He wanted a look of impossibility to the game, and he certainly got it.

He’s a talented artist but he knew nothing of animation before starting this project three years ago, which is remakable when you see how smooth it is. Showing us a stunning clip (and tiny) clip of a bird landing on a branch, which swayed under its weight, he laughed. “The animation of that bird landing took me about a week,” The whole project can be considered a learning process for him.

Perhaps the hardest thing for him seems to have been walking the line of difficulty. Offer too many obvious clues to a puzzle and you end up turning off those who like solving puzzles for themselves, make it too obscure and you risk frustrating gamers. He has added clues to appease those who get stuck and constantly struggled with changing the game because of criticisms and sticking to his vision.

One issue with the puzzles may be that some of the logic only makes sense in Robert’s mind. That’s not a slam, it’s fascinating seeing the way things fit together and how he view this world. “It’s a fantasy of living in a world where there are secrets,” said Roberts, and that’s the parts that silenced the crowd- the moments where everything just clicked and suddenly made sense, flowing together and forming one complete image.

If all goes well Gorogoa will be released early 2015 on PC and Mac, with mobile platforms to follow. For more on the game, including a playable demo, check out the official site at gorogoa.com, and stay tuned here for more Fantastic Arcade coverage!

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