GDC 17: GNOG Preview – Mindboggling Fun (PSVR )

What in the World Is a GNOG?

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the PlayStation Booth on the floor at GDC 17 to check out GNOG  first hand with the PlayStation VR, and man, was it fun!

I can already hear you asking, “what’s GNOG?” GNOG is the brainchild of illustrator and toy enthusiast Samuel Boucher. He originally had the idea of a 2D puzzle game, but when he teamed up with the Canadian collective KO_OP, it turned into a 3D puzzle game that works great in VR. GNOG is funded through the Sony PubFund Program and is supported by developer Double Fine Productions.

The first thing I had to ask was how to pronounce the game title. It is a rather interesting name, but once I heard the answer, and understood the concept of the game, it totally made sense. The game is pronounced without the ‘G’ (i.e. Nog) and is set around a universe of monster heads with each head being called a Gnoggin (i.e. noggin). Each Gnoggin is in itself its own set of unique puzzles that are played out in a three-dimensional manner. The puzzles can be flipped and turned, and to solve each puzzle, you’ll have to figure out which way to twist and turn them to find interactive pieces within each part. Playing it in VR gives it a depth that’s missing when played on just a flat TV or monitor.

A Broken Gnoggin

The Gnoggin I played led me to a broken down space ship that had to be twisted and turned in order to help the little guys inside continue on their space exploration journey. The level was full of shapes and color but was as mind boggling as a 12-sided Rubix cube. Once I got the hang of using the exploration cursor, and the flipping and turning of the ship, I was able to slowly work my way through the puzzle. After repairing the ship, the travelers moved on through the galaxy and i had to assist them in locating six different planets.

What made this puzzle difficult was the fact that there were zero hints to suggest what came next. That wasn’t a bad thing as the sights and sounds of the game made me want to stay in that world as long as possible. The music, composed by Marskye, was light and almost mesmerizing with smooth sounds that matched the gameplay and level design well. Speaking of, the level design itself was very intuitive with bright textures and full of color. This is the type of game that works well with VR as it gives it a depth and dimension that’s hard to replicate on a flat screen.

GNOG is set to release on May 2 for $14.99, but if you pre-order right now, and are a PS+ member, you can get it for 10% off.

If you own a PSVR, or plan on getting one anytime soon, this is one of those games that you might want to keep on your radar for a different kind of gameplay experience.