GNOG ($4.99) by KO.OP is a playful puzzle game featuring toys and secrets galore. If you enjoyed games like Campfire Cooking and Vignettes, then you're going to like what GNOG brings to the table. It's also available on the PlayStation 4 with PSVR support.
With the holidays just around the corner once again, life's been pretty hectic. You know, with all of the decorating, buying gifts, and planning out holiday feasts. When I need a break from life and reality for a bit, I just want to sit down with some video games. Most of my time has gone into Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp lately, as it's one of the most zen-like games out there (just like Animal Crossing: New Leaf). Still, I'm a sucker for puzzle games so when I saw GNOG on the App Store, I had to give it a try. Plus, it reminds me a lot of Vignettes, which was a fantastic game as well.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, GNOG is stunningly gorgeous. The game has a nice mixture of both 2D and 3D graphical elements. But the puzzles themselves take place in 3D toy boxes that are shaped like charming monster heads, and each one is unique and distinctive. GNOG is full of bright and vibrant colors that definitely serve their purpose as eye candy. All animations are buttery smooth and fluid, so there was no lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The ambient and atmospheric soundtrack is soothing to listen to as you solve the puzzles, and the sound effects are delightful, fitting in well with the overall toy box theme. Plus, the monster heads eventually sing along to the music, which changes during the puzzles, and it's amazing.
Like most puzzle games, GNOG is level-based. There are nine toy puzzles to solve at the moment. While that doesn't sound like much, the puzzles can be rather lengthy and challenging, so you do spend quite a bit of time on them. And there's not really any tutorial or guidance, so you're left to figure things out on your own. While some may prefer not having their hands held in games, others who need a little push may feel a tad lost in GNOG.
The goal in GNOG is to solve the puzzles within each monster head puzzle box, where entire worlds can be found. These worlds tell a story through pictures, and these actually serve as clues to how to solve the puzzles. While some are fairly straightforward and easy to figure out, others are more intricate and complex. Regardless, the key to GNOG is paying attention to fine details, so it's a test of your observing skills.
Controls in GNOG are intuitive and optimized for touch screens. A swipe of your finger horizontally on the screen lets you rotate the monster heads, so you can see both the front and the back. There are buttons to press with a tap, sliders to slide, and handles to turn. All of these actions are simple on touch screens, and it makes everything feel even more realistic, as if you're truly poking and prodding at an actual toy.
For a bit of fun, GNOG utilizes iOS's ARKit, so you can play the game using your camera viewfinder to set the background. However, controls in the AR mode are a bit clunkier than normal, so it definitely feels more of a gimmick than it is useful. But it's great to show kids.
An interactive 3D toy that lets you swipe, pull, push, and more to what can happen.
GNOG is a beautiful puzzle game that simply captivates with pure charm and delight. The graphics are one of the best parts of the game, as the designs for each of the monster head boxes are special and remarkable. In a way, a few of the designs remind me of Dia de los Muertos, which isn't a bad thing. The music is relaxing and I like how it changes once you start to figure out the puzzles, and having the monster heads sing along is a nice touch.
While GNOG is available on a console as well, and even coming to Steam, this is the kind of game that seems to be made for touch screens. The way you need to poke, pull, twist, and turn various interactive parts of the toy box just seems perfectly designed for touch, so it feels natural.
While GNOG is a great game, it's not perfect. The lack of guidance can confuse some people, and make them feel stuck. And while the nine existing puzzles provide a distinctive experience, it feels a bit short for the money. I hope that more puzzles are added in the future, if possible, as that would extend the life of the game.
GNOG is one of those quirky games that brings in a special kind of experience to iOS gaming. The graphics are amazing to look at, the dynamic music is upbeat and catchy, and the controls feel natural. But the lack of guidance can be a drawback for some, but overall, it's a great game to sit back and relax with.