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Gomo

Score: 75%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Developer: Fishcow Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Gomo is an odd adventure game that, while aesthetically pleasing in its unique way, feels lacking in complexity and cleverness.

Where the game doesnít come up short is in its visual style. The sepiatone world is filled primarily with shades of brown. Even the areas that should be deep black are just a dark, dark brown, and the lightest areas border on a dirty, pale orange. This, combined with the cartoony style of the art itself, leaves a very otherworldly feel to the game.

Gomoís music is odd. There seems to be some variety to the music, but it isnít long before it all blends together so no particular part of the gameís soundtrack is memorable. What I remember most about it is how much it blared through my speakers and, even when turned low, never dropped to something I would call "background." Instead, the music had a habit of keeping me from thinking through the gameís puzzles - which is a shame since there werenít that many that should have caused an experienced adventure gamer any kind of trouble. In the end, I simply had to turn the music off.

There is some voicework in Gomo, but not words are actually said. Instead, the few times there is dialogue, what comes out is an odd speech that sounds like a recording played in reverse. There are no subtitles to compliment the odd speech, so you donít know exactly what is being said. I guess the idea is that the interactions between the speakers and the little bit of diagrams used are enough to convey the point of the conversation, but Iím not sure if I really would have known the purpose of the main characterís quest had I not read the press release.


Gameplay:

Gomo starts off with your character (I guess his name is Gomo?) waking up to find his pet is missing. After a very brief search, you are sent a video from some kind of space creature. It appears that he has stolen your pet and demands that you go steal some kind of gem and exchange it for your dog. Quite frankly, it feels like a very shaky setup and only an excuse to have your character go through a series of underground chambers in a nearby mine and eventually into space.

What follows is exactly that. Each screen poses some kind of logic or inventory puzzle for you to get past in order to go to the next scene. For the most part, you enter each screen with no inventory items, and you leave using up all of the ones you picked up in that area. There is a kind of simple charm to this design and for the most part, it works. Unfortunately, the side effect is that everything you need to solve your problem is on that screen and the result is fairly straightforward and simple puzzles.

Given this design, it seems like there is one major benefit to the game. Namely, you don't really have to remember what you were doing and what tasks you were trying to complete if you happen to leave the game and come back to it after some time. After all, the only thing you need to do is get past the puzzle in front of you and move on to the next. An interesting side effect to this is the fact that you don't ever save your game. Instead, it looks like Gomo saves every time you change screens.

This actually caused a problem for me at one point though. Early in the game, there is a puzzle that actually requires you to go to a different screen in order to get all the info you need. This rare event in Gomo meant that I could leave the screen having only picked up some of the inventory items I needed, and returned still needing to get some things. Well, in this particular case, I picked up an item after coming back into a screen and ended up having to stop playing for a while. I closed Gomo and returned some time later. When the game launched again, I found that I only had some of the inventory items I needed and the last one I had picked up was not in my list of items. No problem right? I can just grab it again right? Nope, the location of the item was not clickable and I actually had to start the game over in order to get past that particular puzzle. Pretty annoying, especially given the unskippable cutscenes and random animations that the game essentially stops all progress in order for you to watch. I'm just glad this event only happened once and it wasn't too far into the game.

Gomo also offers three bonus stages you can unlock if you just happen to notice and pick up three random pieces of garbage in the world. Of course, you don't know that this is an option or that you should be looking for them, and quite frankly, I had to go to the Internet in order to learn this particular tidbit. If you are playing through Gomo and you happen to not unlock these stages, don't worry too much. All you are missing is three whack-a-mole games with different backdrops.


Difficulty:

Gomo never really poses any kind of challenge to even the most beginner of adventure gamers. Like I said above, one thing you know when facing each of the game's challenges, everything you need is right in front of you. The few times when that isn't the case are pretty obvious, and its typically when you find that you actually still have an inventory item left in your list from a previous screen (even if that item disappeared for a few screens).

One of the areas where I did get frustrated with Gomo came in a lock-based puzzle where you had to line up several colored stones in order to gain access to a series of doors. No matter where I looked or what I had seen before, there wasn't something telling me the correct combinations. Instead, I simply had to meticulously work my way through all the possible combinations until I heard the unlock sound effect on all of the doors. This just shouts bad design to me.


Game Mechanics:

Gomo's unusual screen-by-screen nature gives this game a feature not seen too often in adventure games; it can be easily picked up, played for a short time, put down and picked up again later. Most adventure games don't let you do this because you could very easily not remember what puzzle or puzzles you were trying to get past. In fact, some of the deeper adventure games can have the player trying to solve several at the same time and knowing that they are all interdependent and connected some how. Of course, these games add features like notebooks or journals so that the player can review what he or she has done so far in the hopes of refreshing the player's memory. Gomo doesn't suffer from that problem at all. When you load the game back up, your only task is to figure out how to progress beyond the screen in front of you (or at most, the next couple that you can move between freely). No fuss, no muss - just get past the current obstacle and you can move forward.

Unfortunately, this also gives the game a very simplistic and short feel. Instead of solving large problems that result in a great sense of achievement, you find that the game has a much more stop-and-go feel to it and this feeling, at least for me, tended to hurt the game more than help it.

I can see Gomo being a good candidate for starting adventure gamers, or those looking for a more casual experience, but the times when it becomes tedious could easily drive away those gamers as well.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP or later, 1.6 GHZ Processor, 1 GB RAM, 300 MB Hard Drive Space Available
 

Test System:



Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

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