The Switch certainly isn't short of top-quality indie games at present, and with so many titles hitting the eShop each week it can be hard to decide which ones are worth your time and money. Hopefully you consult our reviews to make your purchasing choices, but in the case of Gorogoa, you might find the story of the game's development gives you enough reason to lay down your cash.
Gorogoa is a unique puzzle title from 43-year-old former software engineer Jason Roberts, and has been in development for the past seven years. Roberts has taken part in an extensive interview with Kotaku in which he talks about his struggles, aims and hopes for Gorogoa, and it's well worth a look.
We won't republish a lot of the interview as we'd thoroughly recommend that you give it a read, but it's worth highlighting just how arduous the road to release has been for Roberts. He demoed the game in 2012 to a receptive audience, only to run out of money just a few years after, which caused things to stall - despite winning awards for the game's design and look. The Indie Fund gave him another year of funding, but it would be publisher Annapurna Interactive which would step in to give the game the investment it needed to make it to the finish line.
I thought it was going to be a quick process. It took me too long. The fact that Annapurna could bring a dedicated marketing budget felt important. I needed a bad cop, or some tough love, to finish the game. I have that tendency to just… I don’t know. Maybe I would have just kept wandering, design-wise, until I ran out of money.
Gorogoa's puzzles are unique to say the least; meticulously-designed and based on the idea of moving panels around the storybook-style screen:
I’m mostly interested in having things connect that are different from each other: different scales, different kinds of things. For a long time, I would think of elaborate puzzles, and they would have elaborate pieces that made them up, and that would cause me to make scenes around those pieces that didn’t really make sense.
Roberts also talks about the games which inspired his design process during development, and cites titles like Dear Esther and Gone Home:
A lot of games that push the boundary of what a video game is came along later and influenced my thinking. I feel like I’m at the point in video games as a medium where you have to justify… why there are mechanics at all. Why I didn’t want to just tell a story.
If you like your gaming experiences to be deep and meaningful, Gorogoa sounds like it could be just the ticket, as Roberts gets quite philosophical when discussing his work:
What do I like about puzzles? I think it has to do with the idea that there is hidden structure or meaning in the world. That if you can look at an ordinary piece of the world and rearrange the parts of it in just the right way, you would discover some hidden structure. And if you look out in the world and you don’t see that meaning there, that means that there has to be some challenge to finding it, to explain why you haven’t found it yet.
I think a lot of projects start with one little idea in a corner of something. You expand outward, and you sort of wander around until you hit a top-level idea that sort of unifies everything. You’re just trying to figure out what you’re making.
If you don’t know where your destination is, you don’t know how long you have to wander.
Have you downloaded this intriguing game yet? We're working on our review as we speak, but in the meantime, let us know your thoughts with a comment.