Review: GNOG (PS4/PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC (TBD 2017)
  • iOS (TBD 2017)

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Optional
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: GNOG
Format: PSN (2.96 GB)
Release Date: May 2, 2016
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Developer: Ko-op Mode
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
GNOG is an odd game and it’s one that I imagine will absolutely delight some players and be a complete miss for others. In some ways it’s hardly even a game, more like an interactive toy. There is a ‘win-state’ inherent to each stage, if they can be called that, but simply messing around with them is a big part of the game.

The stages (boxes? Gnogs?) are a series of toyboxes of sorts. Each one has a theme: a frog, a rocket ship, a stack of apartments, etc., that are all designed to look vaguely like a face. The stages have a bunch of clickable elements: levers, buttons, animals, etc.

Clicking the right objects will eventually unlock other parts of the Gnog, usually advancing some simple narrative like fixing the rocket ship or catching butterflies. Do enough and the stage will be ‘cleared’ and the player will unlock another stage to mess around with.

A big part of the draw of the game is the audio and visuals that accompany it though. Usually as the player gets closer to finishing a stage, the music will add layers and complexity. Different elements can also have fun and interesting effects on the game worlds themselves.

With only a handful of stages and its simple nature, the whole game can easily be completed in a single sitting. It gave me a good ‘zen’ feeling while I was playing, mostly due to a lack of any stressful elements. But there’s also not much agency, which is something that I think could bother some players.

… the main hook of the game is exploration …
The game does support VR, though it’s far from necessary. Nothing about it changes, but some of the elements have some pop that comes through a lot better in VR. Of course the player can use VR to look around the Gnogs, though this is also possible with the DualShock.

This game hardly necessitates VR but it’s worth trying for those who have one and are interested. I kinda wish the game supported the Move controllers though, especially in VR.


PSVR Screenshots

Visuals:
The graphics are certainly nice. Everything is bright, colorful, and stylized and the Gnogs all have very distinct themes. There’s almost no text or writing, as the main hook of the game is exploration. Rather than explain each element of the stage, the player is encouraged to find and click them all to see what they do.

I like how cute and simple everything is, especially the characters and animals. The whole game facilitates a relaxing feeling. The explosion of color and animation that happens when completing a Gnog is especially well designed as the ‘reward’ for figuring out the solutions to that stage.

… a good experience for those who want it …
Audio:
The audio is very well designed to match up to the gameplay. Clicking on elements in the game is usually accompanied by an audio cue designed to fit in with the background music. And as the player moves towards the end of each stage, the audio often builds up in different ways.

It’s a fun and interesting set of music too. I enjoy the way it melds into the different stages and the music swells and takes over to accompany the explosion of visuals that takes place at the end of the stages.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The major theme of GNOG is how relaxing and simple it is. The gameplay is not complex nor challenging. It can feel pretty unique, thanks in part to the strong visual design aesthetics and the blending of those visuals and the music. The two come together harmoniously to give a very tranquil experience.

That said, this definitely isn’t a game for those who want story or gameplay impetus to help push them forward. It’s also a rather short game, with only enough content for an afternoon. There’s definitely an audience for this kind of experience but this is not for everyone. It’s a good experience for those who want it though.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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