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Preview: GNOG – A Puzzler for Kids of All Ages

Puzzle videogames come in all shapes and sizes, from dark mysterious adventures to light hearted escapades, if you like a brain teaser there’s something to fit everybody’s ability. Coming to PlayStation VR this year will be a solely puzzle experience from KO­­_OP called GNOG, taking a fun look at the genre mixing colour, light and sound into a playful experience.

VRFocus originally previewed GNOG way back in 2015 when it was a PlayStation 4 project with aspirations of virtual reality (VR) support for Project Morpheus (as it was called). Now the studio has begun showcasing what this vividly surreal puzzler will bring to Sony Interactive Entertainment’s headset, letting attendees at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017 delve into two levels out of the nine that’ll be available when fully launched.

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GNOG’s levels are individual, self contained puzzle boxes that encourage you to twist, turn, pull and press their seemingly simple, but often elaborate structures to find the solution. The wonderful aesthetics mimic a myriad of childhood toys that are designed to elicit fascination in children, with quirky sounds, large buttons and a rich cel-shaded colour palette.

There’s a beautiful exuberance in each unlock of a particular section, with the puzzles requiring you to use your eyes as well as your ears to look for subtle changes that can indicate what to do next. This isn’t some videogame for five year old’s, there’s no hand holding here. No instructions are given on how to go about solving these brain teasers, but trial and error can be used for the most part, which can work for and against this type of title.

And the screenshots only tell part of the story. These boxes of peculiarity are multi-sided, with intricate secrets tucked away that can be missed at first glance if you’re not careful. This is where the benefit of VR comes into play. You can’t help but peer into the puzzles, getting a much better idea of what’s going inside, which only VR can do. Yes, those that know VR well will probably tell it’s a videogame made for consoles, and that VR has then been added on, but that still doesn’t detract from the overall feel.

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Of concern though is the length of GNOG, with KO_OP having said there’s going to be nine levels, that does feel somewhat short. As a puzzle title it’s also single-player, so the worry is that once completed there’s going to be little to bring players back into the fold. GNOG wouldn’t be the first in this genre to suffer from this issue, so KO_OP might have some tricks yet to be revealed.

GNOG possesses some truly engaging and inventive ideas that might just make it stand out for players. It’s the art style that’ll draw in the crowds, and certainly make you want to play, but it needs more than looks to make it into your library. If the videogame can provide hours of entertainment (without getting stuck) then it could certainly be one of the most interesting to arrive in 2017.