GNOG Review

GNOG is a very meta game, giving players the opportunity to explore worlds inside of worlds.

The longer you play, the more it lulls you. It is a calming experience, in a way, which is a nice change for a puzzle game. No matter how you cut it, for good or for bad, you’ll definitely remember playing GNOG.

Your goal in GNOG is not so much to solve puzzles, more to simply experience them. That, in itself, is worth noting because your time here is much more of an experience than a game. You’ll dive into the minds of monsters and objects, discovering miniature worlds. Picking these apart, searching for the tiny details, is what will push you forward. While some puzzles are uneventful and simplistic, there are some truly enjoyable ones. With no guidelines to follow, you’re able to do as you please and test every little idea you have. While each puzzle differs, you’ll basically do the same three things: press, rotate, or slide.

Right off the bat, in VR or not, you’ll notice the art design. The beautiful world of GNOG is so delicately detailed and each individual puzzle so different, that each has its own sense of life to it. If nothing else, it is a joy for the senses. The music is fantastic and whimsical, the colours pop, the environment shines and it all moves in unison. GNOG is an artistic fever dream that oozes imagination; it is equal parts delightful and bizarre. While I won’t say it is necessary to play in VR, it does greatly enhance the experience. VR does not affect the gameplay at all, and serves only to give you a greater sense of depth and immersion. Which, for this game, works well.

From level to level, the dedicated brain power you need to put forth never seems to change much. I’d struggle to call the last two to three puzzles ‘simple’, but GNOG as a whole is simple. It is dreadfully short (nine puzzles in all), and it can easily be finished in under an hour. Another issue you might notice is that some parts of the game feel a bit like guesswork. Now, in fairness, once you solve the puzzle you’ll realise that isn’t true, but nonetheless the fact that you can get to that point was off-putting at first. The clues about what needs to be done are so well hidden sometimes that finding them is a puzzle in itself. So, like I said, a very ‘meta’ experience.

As you’d expect from a puzzle game, GNOG has little replay value. Your first go through is the one that’ll be your best experience of the game. But, this is where the VR aspect of the game can help… sort of. Even if you’ve already played through the game, it is worth going through at least one puzzle in VR, if you have that ability. It’s not worth buying a PSVR for, by no means, but if that luxury is something you have, then just getting a sense of that added detail and depth of the game is worth it. If you own a PSVR, there’s no point in not playing it from start to finish entirely in VR. Another issue is the price, which if it were lowered a bit would make GNOG something every PSVR owner should at least try. As it stands, it’s not quite a must own title.

GNOG, if nothing else, leaves a mark. Again, it is an experience before it is a game and one that was memorable, but much too brief. The simplistic nature of the puzzles, the duration of the game and the lack of replayability are all things to consider given the price. PSVR owners have a new title worth trying, but not a necessary edition to the hardware. PS4 players have the same game, with an altered experience. It’s hard to truly say if GNOG needs to be played; I’ll admit I said “coooooool” or “oh that’s neat” a lot while I played, but the gameplay itself and the puzzles did not leave a mark as much as the overall experience did. Regardless, GNOG is a unique entry in a genre filled with games trying to be just that, and that’s got to count for something, right?

GNOG is available on PlayStation 4.