GNOG Review: Head Games

May 4th, 2017 -

At what I believe was the very first Day of the Devs several years ago, there were a few wonderful moments that have stayed with me, outside of the wonder that is Tim Schafer. It’s where we got to see the beautiful Firewatch, we witnessed Phil Fish DJ his heart out, and I saw a little game about giant monster heads that you got to mess around with for the first time. At first glance, this may look like a Polly Pocket or Mighty Max toy, but it’s quite a bit more than just a world within a world.

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GNOG, previously GNAH!, is a puzzle game with the charm stat set to 12. With giant creatures that are very much themed based on their names, each diorama gives you a different set of tasks to do. What may seem random at the first, second, or even third glance, you’ll find that the answer is always provided if you look hard enough. There are instructions in each level, though they aren’t always found as blatantly as in a cookbook. Of course, you’ll be clicking around now and then trying to find what is interactive and what isn’t, even though the game gives you adequate feedback when it is. Some things just look like they should work… and in most cases they will, just not yet.

Some heads will have multiple parts to handle before you can move on, such as the one centered on candy. It’s important in any puzzle game to not become overly concentrated, as you’ll end up making things more difficult than they are. If you can’t figure something out, try and do something else. Occasionally the solution is dependent on completing another puzzle. Now and then, doing that other puzzle won’t help at all, but going back to it with a fresh mind will yield the solution much sooner.

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The game overall will not take long to beat, although it’s highly dependent on your observational skills. But it is an absolute joy solving each puzzle, with each one giving a completely different vibe, surprisingly eclectic solutions, and the music. Oh, the music! Especially on the radio…head. Oh. No wonder that one was so stylish. It wasn’t Thom in a digital form, but I can assure you if the volume is up, your head will be bopping. My wife was writing across the apartment, and I saw her dancing in the chair to it – she had no idea I was paying attention while playing the game.

Visually speaking, this game has got colors. Hopefully you like colors. If you’re looking for something more along the lines of drab greys and browns, stay away, because you’ll hate this. This is like a rainbow saw another rainbow, so they held hands while several unicorns decided to fly through them as the largest prism in the world was being tested on the sun. But there’s never a time that the colors are so busy you don’t know what is happening. Quite honestly, I’m amazed at how much they nailed the visuals of this game, from the animations to the color theory.

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There’s a lot to say about this game, but it’s hard to truly praise the design without going into the specifics of the puzzles and their genius. It’s been a long time since I’ve played one in this manner that’s been so involving. What’s really neat is the visuals are inclusive of all age groups. And while it may be a bit too difficult for younger ages, nothing is overly difficult. The game doesn’t assume you know information prior to jumping in, as it lays everything you need out before you. While games that test your prior knowledge are rewarding in their own right, it’s hard to really recommend those without knowing someone’s background.

I’ve reviewed a lot of puzzle games on this site, and if you will recall, not all of them have done such a great job in regards to design. Either the puzzles themselves are lacking, or they just weren’t fun. Others have been fantastic, and I can’t recommend them enough. This falls into the latter of the two categories. Come for the monster heads, stay for the music and puzzles.

BUY

Pros

  • Bright, Bold Visuals and Characters
  • Fun Puzzles
  • Groovy Beats

Cons

  • More Heads Please

GNOG was developed by Ko-op Mode and published by Double Fine. The game launched on PS4 and PS VR May 2nd, 2017 for $14.99, and will be coming PC and iOS later this year. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of GNOG, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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