Are a weird character and world with few small screens and an even smaller inventory the solution to make adventure games more accessible without losing the core concept? This seems to be the road Fishcow Studio seems to take in the point-and-clicker Gomo.
Sackboy-like creature Gomo has to recover some artifacts for aliens in order to get his dog Dingo back.
Familiar narrative territory
Saying that the thin plot and non-existent character development are similar to Amanita Design’s Samorost would be an understatement, as the game often feels like a rip-off. It might be unfair to compare the two, as they’re from different developers and have different worlds to explore, but there’s nonetheless the same person-wants-to-find-his-dog-captured-by-aliens storyline which doesn’t hold many surprises or twists. Despite some interesting locales, the way the screens connect and how the game world is built remains too superficial. With no inhabitants to talk to and a main character who just looks weird without having any special traits and therefore difficult to relate to, there isn’t much to expect in the storytelling department.
What’s also less successful is the forced slapstick humor and pop culture references which simply don’t make much sense. It can be interesting to see some lasersword fighting in the background or skeleton remains underground which look slightly familiar to other videogame characters, but this adds even more to the confusion of what the game wants to convey. Still, there are actually some pretty funny and surreal scenes, e.g. with a war going on in the background and Gomo just standing on a bench, while some polka music plays, or when certain point-and-click adventure puzzles are made fun of.
Obscurity in puzzle design
The puzzles are usually limited to a few screens and require a bit of thinking, but their difficulty is rather low due to a very small inventory which often only holds three items at a time. This makes it a perfect fit for beginners but obviously less challenging for advanced players. It’s also disappointing that the instances when genuinely inventive solutions are required are few, as the game lacks memorable puzzles. Problem solving is often aggravatingly forced into the game, making it feel as if the player simply clicks his way from screen to screen in order to be confronted by another out-of-place, obscure puzzle. It’s not as bad as the awful Full Pipe which had no hints and suffered from navigation problems, but the puzzles could have been better implemented. There are also some instances in which pixel-perfect timing is required, turning the game into a trial & error one.
Looking and sounding weird
Presentation-wise, the title offers what many indie adventure titles with a weird world and character design have: mainly some offbeat music which is at least more varied than the typical synthesizer sounds with some happy and more atmospheric dark tunes (although these are quite short and their repeated usage becomes evident), plus lovely hand-drawn backgrounds which are pretty to look at. The character drawings are a bit too simple, although they are a nice contrast to the innocent charm of the world Gomo traverses. Together with a weird sense of humor, the title has a certain uniqueness despite its problem of not knowing where to go with it.
A rough indie adventure stone in the making
Gomo is one of those indie adventure titles which has a cute and crude look, trying to be at once weird and funny, but lacking their own distinct personality. This is also reflected in the puzzle design which doesn’t offer anything new or imaginative. Still, it has to be praised for its three-items-in-inventory simplicity and limitation of a consistently few rooms. While advanced players might not welcome this feature and would rather have harder puzzles, it’s the perfect game for adventure game newcomers despite some occasionally obscure solutions and control issues.
As it is, the game is fun while it lasts (for less than 2-3 hours, plus some really superfluously stupid mini-games as bonus content) and can be recommended for people who prefer its sense of humor and awkward presentation reflecting the strange quirkiness of the setting, and who forgive the rather dull story and uninteresting main character, and who simply want to solve a few puzzles without being bothered much by backtracking or many object combinations.
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