GNOG (PS4, PC, iOS)

This is probably one of the weirdest games I’ve played in a long time.  Heck, even the title is weird (pronounced ‘nog’ like egg nog).  I don’t even know if I’ll be able to describe this game properly, it’s that weird.  Anyway, GNOG is a puzzle game where each level is a lunchbox looking device with all sorts of switches and knobs and other doo dads for you to mess with.  It’s your job to flip all the switches and fiddle with everything in the right order to pass the level.  Currently it’s available to download on PS4, and is also compatible with PSVR, but you don’t have to have the VR peripheral to play it.  Later on it’ll also be available for PC and iOS as well.

Each level (9 in all) has a theme, like a submarine, spaceship, candy store, laboratory, etc.  You may have to flip switches and solve puzzles to help a robber get all the money in a house, feed baby birds in a log, repair a spaceship, and more.  Usually in the levels are subtle picture cues that tell you what order to flip switches or turn dials.  It kind of reminds me of those baby activity sets that you can hook on the side of the crib that has all those bells and levers and knobs to fiddle with.  The weird nature of the game as well as the color schemes and music also reminds me of Katamari Damacy.

To control the game, use the left analog stick to move a cursor around.  The X button will activate certain switches, but sometimes you’ll need to hold the button down and move the control stick to turn, twist, and flip dials and switches.  The right analog stick will tilt the level around, and the L and R buttons will flip the whole lunchbox diorama to the other side.

While the game is unique and charming, it does have some problems here and there as well.  They don’t give you much in the way of instructions, other than showing you a picture at the beginning of two analog sticks wiggling around.  Also, goals and objectives in the levels are unclear at first.  It took me about 15 minutes to beat each level, and at only nine levels total, the game is a bit short.  Also, there were a few times where I got the puzzle right, but I’d have to fiddle with things and reset them back to where I had them to activate the next part of the puzzle or finish the level.  This game was published by famed game developer Double Fine, which makes and publishes a lot of really unique titles.  So if you are a fan of them or just like weird and quirky puzzle games, you should give this a try anyway.

Kid Factor:

GNOG is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Crude Humor.  I really couldn’t find much in the way of crude humor other than a level where you must get a bird to eat worms and then throw up in baby birds’ mouths, and there is a picture of what looks like a farting skunk in the closing credits.  Reading skill isn’t needed, but younger gamers may need help with some of the trickier puzzles anyway.

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