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Wot I Think: GNOG

Head held high

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We’ve been writing about crazy-bonkers puzzler GNOG in its various forms since 2014. Originally called GNAH!, Graham immediately loved the look of it. Then a year later developers KO_OP Mode declared that they were scrapping everything and starting over, renaming the game GNOG.

Since then we’ve been patiently waiting, seeing the game come out on iOS, then PS4, and finally now it’s out on PC. And it was worth the wait.

To explain GNOG is to fail to appreciate GNOG. It is, on some level, an experimental puzzler where you click, spin, pull, push and drag objects in elaborately animated robotic heads. Familiar to anyone who’s played the artistic wonders of Vectorpark (Windosill, Metamorphabet), it’s about experimentally poking and prodding at these intricately crafted rotating rooms, discerning then solving puzzles.

But this is much more about the experience of playing, of fiddling with a lovely play-space. GNOG is absolutely spellbinding and charming in its daft, joyful silliness. This is via so many strengths, from just the core design, to the animations, to the mass of tiny details of interactivity, and completed by some stunning music.

Each of the nine levels is some manner of robot head, but realised as perhaps a submarine, or a multistory house, a bizarre frog-beast, or a mouldy log. And each can be flipped around from front to back, poked around with inside, aiming to eventually find the button that causes the whole thing to explode like fireworks of animation and sound. And each is completely elating, causing me to break out in a giant goofy smile.

It’s aurally so smart, ambient bleeps and bloops accompanying musical sound effects that allow you to craft its score as you play, twist, click and prod. This all then reaches a crescendo on completing a level, as the head begins an extraordinary tonal singing, while every element of the level begins to burst out and dance along, offering a moment of completing jubilance unmatched since Peggle.

The art feels like it exists on the exact mid-point between Vectorpark’s wonderful (and stated inspiration of GNOG’s) games, and that of CBeebies wundershow, Hey Duggee. It’s possible that you are not aware of Hey Duggee, because you might not be three, so let me share this pleasure with you for your comprehension:

I think we can all agree I have entirely nailed this cross-comparison.

This is short, because GNOG doesn’t need squillions of words to explain. My only real complaint is that it does always feel like it’d suit a touchscreen more than a mouse, and rotating some of the wheels gets a little clumsy with the pointer. But that’s a minor niggle.

It’s just simply a wonderful creation that you absolutely should buy and play. It’s brief – the nine levels will perhaps take you a couple of hours – but a splendid couple of hours they are. Daft, fun, exuberant and very pretty, it captures a sense of joy like little else.

GNOG is out today on Windows and Mac, for £7.19/8.19€/$9.99 via Steam.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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