GOMO – PC
Developer: Fishcow Studio
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date (NA): December 6, 2013
Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (7.5 out of 10 for youngsters)
Reviewed by Malefico
GOMO is the story of a…. GOMO, and his dog Dingo. Alas, one evening as GOMO sleeps, a dastardly alien takes Dingo hostage. The alien demands that GOMO retrieve a special gem in exchange for his beloved friend. Thus begins your adventure. You must help GOMO work through various hazards and puzzles on his quest to reunite with Dingo.
GOMO is a roughly rectangular creature that resembles an overstuffed pillow case with stubby legs and elastic arms. It is strangely endearing and grew on me as I played through the game. It inhabits an oddly inviting world full of recognizable animals and Seussian machinery scattered throughout various parts of GOMO’s adventure.
GOMO works on a simple point-and-click system, with arrows denoting possible directions of travel and interactive items. The game screen features a drop-down inventory menu that holds a maximum of three items (to store them GOMO simply unzips his back and stuffs them inside), and an in-game menu that allows you to adjust volume, toggle full screen and “easy” modes, and change menu language. On most screens inventory is used to solve the puzzle at hand, though a few items do remain for brief portions of the game.
When an item can be used, it glows over the appropriate area. Most puzzles are pretty simple, and in the more ambiguous screens the glow helps the player find the proper place to interact. In addition to objects that are useful in your efforts to free Dingo, you can also pick up doodads enabling you to unlock up to three bonus games.
As in most point-and-click adventures, the game world is designed to guide you roughly from beginning to end. Each screen presents a different puzzle, and the developers did a good job of mixing up backgrounds to take you over hills, down into tunnels, through buildings, etc. to reach your beloved Dingo. The art and animations in GOMO are simple, but effectively convey in-game action and GOMO’s limited emotions, which are basically puzzlement, boredom, and surprise. I found the artistic style to be appealing and the color palette, though mostly gray with scattered pastel shades, suited the mood.
There’s no recognizable dialogue in GOMO; the story is told through visual images, sound effects, etc. The sound effects are varied and add to GOMO’s charm. In-game music changes often, usually with each new puzzle, but can still become annoying if you’re stumped by a challenge for more than a few minutes. I found the volume bar to come in handy fairly early on, but wished the game featured separate controls for music and effects volume.
Gameplay itself is pretty straightforward. With each new screen, you’re confronted by obstacles to your forward progress. Initially, you can usually advance further into the area, then choose the best way to solve each puzzle.
The Bottom Line
As in most games of this genre, GOMO’s mechanics are more akin to an interactive movie. Aside from moving around on the screen and fiddling with the props, there’s very little freedom where movement options are concerned. Each sequence is animated, so you go from place to place on the screen, unraveling the enigmas that stymy your progress. On some screens, including GOMO’s house where you start your adventure, there are animated sequences meant to add a little flair. They do, but only the first time you experience them. Subsequently, all they induce is impatience.
This wouldn’t be an issue if the game map was a little less linear, but I felt constrained by the overall design of the quest. The path is predetermined with no uncertainty as to which path might be more dangerous or difficult, and with no chance to wander through what could have been a cool little virtual surreality. This has the effect of diminishing the enjoyment of the game while simultaneously destroying any replay value that might have existed.
One of the high points of the game is the art. Characters and backgrounds are rendered in a quirky and agreeable style, and the animations that are present, though simple, at least lend GOMO its own style.
Likewise, the sound effects do help tell the story and imbue GOMO with a modicum of personality. The music isn’t too bad unless you are stuck in a room. If so, it quickly has a nails-on-chalkboard effect. Perhaps this was a subtle attempt by the developers to keep you moving along.
If so, it was ill-advised since the other issue I have with GOMO is its brevity. As a gamer who doesn’t typically engage in puzzlers very often, I was still able to finish the game in less than two hours. Younger players might well take longer, but I think in general adults will find GOMO enjoyable but too short. I haven’t played the bonus games yet, maybe those will add some play time to the overall length of the experience.
There were a few screens that stumped me for a bit, and the game did a good job of scaling the difficulty along the way. I imagine experienced puzzle players would make even shorter work of GOMO than I did.
GOMO is not a horrible game, but not particularly memorable either. Although the art is whimsical and engaging, it doesn’t overshadow the shortcomings of the title. With an extremely linear and intriguing but claustrophobic world that features scant chance for exploration and with no diverting side trips to help flesh out the story or add play time, GOMO does the bare minimum to qualify as a puzzle adventure.
The puzzles themselves would no doubt be well-suited to younger players, as noted before, but they simply don’t offer enough challenge to keep adults occupied. The lack of an engaging story or more content doesn’t help. GOMO offers little you can’t find in similar browser-based games that are free to play.
Finally, although the game doesn’t have a lot of bugs, there are a few issues that are annoying to say the least. In most segments, it’s easy to get held up by a weird error, or maybe a bad design decision that seems to support correct actions only if they’re done in the correct order also. And I’m not talking about MacGyvering a makeshift machine out of scraps and getting the assembly incorrect. I mean to say that if you don’t follow what seems to be a programmed order, you won’t get an item or map you need to progress. This seems to involve areas where items can be hidden in several possible locations. The game demands that you choose one, but also seemingly that you choose it last. This may have been an attempt to force a little extra playing time out of this title, but it may just be poor coding as well.
Overall, if you’re looking for a puzzle adventure you can finish in a short time, GOMO does feature a nifty game environment and plucky protagonist. However, if you’re looking for even a single evening’s entertainment at home, better plan to watch a movie after you finish.
5.5 out of 10 for adults, and a generous 7.5 out of 10 for the little ones.
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