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I Keep Playing Puzzle Games, Like 'Gorogoa,' Even Though I Want to Cheat

So far, though, 'Gorogoa' has managed to keep me honest. It's that good.

by Patrick Klepek
Jan 4 2018, 4:00pm

Image courtesy of Buried Signal

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I’m near the finish line with Gorogoa, and have yet to look anything up. The impulse has arrived once or twice, but in those moments, knowing I’ve successfully navigated the challenges it’s thrown at me in the past, I take a deep breath and walk away.

As much as I love puzzle games, it’s the one genre that regularly compels me to cheat. Few things frustrate me more than having no idea what to do next. It’s one thing when you can’t line up your shots, another when you’re staring at the screen, with no path forward. It’s why I played most of Thimbleweed Park (which I enjoyed!) with a walkthrough, and eventually gave up on The Witness. It’s no fun playing games that make you feel bad about yourself, no matter what emotion it intends to invoke.

And yet, I still find myself coming back to them. Sometimes, like 999, it’s the story. Other times, like my recent hours with the brilliant Gorogoa, it remains the puzzles. In moments where I can feel my teeth grind, I remember there are a billion games to play, and set the Switch down. The game will still be there when I've calmed down.

Gorogoa has slowly escalated the complexity of its brain teasers, but always at a manageable pace. Or maybe Gorogoa's puzzles just happen to mesh with my brain, the way I barely passed geometry in high school, yet managed to breeze through algebra? (That might help explain some of my foundational problems with The Witness.)

It doesn't help that solutions are so easily available, either. When I got stuck playing the Tex Murphy adventure games as a kid, I'd have to call a 1-900 number for help. At the time, I didn't know 1-900 numbers automatically billed you. I found out the hard way when my parents' bill showed up. At least I made it past that clown...

I’m fine with having a complicated and contradictory relationship with puzzle games. When I play a new one, it’s a question of where it’ll fall on the spectrum. For Gorogoa, I take a break, and give my brain a chance to relax. How about you? Are there genres you treat differently, based on different factors? Do you cheat at puzzlers, too?

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

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