I have been in a period of chronic illness for many years, which turned my life upside down in my prime of young adulthood. I’m good at dealing with it, but I can’t deny how really isolating and quite honestly boring my life has become.
But no matter how many years pass and how many plans and hobbies I’m forced to give up, it never gets less enjoyable to live in a video game narrative for a little while. When I’m too disconnected to engage in hardcore gameplay, I love having the door open for a little indie game that’s dedicated to using the medium in interesting ways to tell its own unique story (many of which I’ve discovered via Polygon, I guess many of you share my taste on this one).
I worry about the number of amazing video game stories that get overlooked, that find innovative ways to convey beautiful, moving narratives while slipping under the radar of all but a few. If anyone knows this kind of hidden gem, it’s Polygon Dot Com.
So I guess I just want to know which games left big narrative impacts on you! Which games provided characters and storylines that left you hugely invested in a whole other world, even if only for a short time. It’s nice to live in someone else’s story when there isn’t much going on in yours.
Thank you Polygon, and as we all love to say, keep playing in the free world.
Thanks for sharing your story with us. Chronic illness is tough – really, really tough. There was a time in my life when I was very sick and stuck at home for six months to a year. It’s so isolating, and I can absolutely relate to how video games help me feel more connected.
When I was recovering from heart disease, really really invested in League of Legends esports helped me feel part of a community. It wasn’t something I shared with people in my day-to-day life, but just getting to know these players and this brilliant, intricate game through competitive matches always made me feel like… to be involved in something exciting, even when I had to be bedridden.
When I read your Dear Polygon letter, one game immediately came to mind: Jason Roberts and publisher Annapurna Interactive Gorogoa. I played it on PC, but I think it would be great on mobile as well. It’s a puzzle game that takes place in a two-by-two grid where each square (sometimes all four, sometimes less) contains interactive images. You solve the puzzles by clicking on items in each of these images or by dragging them to a different location in the grid. Sometimes that means connecting these illustrated squares into a single contiguous image, or layering them on top of each other – usually a window or a door – to combine them. When you have “solved” each step of the puzzle, it triggers an animation, advancing the game.
I think it can be hard to explain how it works in real life, so here are some examples: There are two illustrated tiles in this grid, one with an apple tree and the other with a bowl. Move each of these squares so that the bowl is placed under the apple about to fall from the tree. The apple will fall from frame to frame and the story will advance. Similarly, another puzzle involves creating a path for a ball to roll off a shelf and into another world. It’s much easier to see how it works via the trailer:
Gorogoa is short and sweet, at about two to three hours. But through these individual puzzles, it builds towards a story about a boy and a monster, exploring themes of destruction and rebirth. It was released on iOS, PC and Nintendo Switch in 2017, but it’s also available on PlayStation, Xbox and Android from 2018 – so you have plenty of options to find it. I’d love to hear what you think; the story is even more remarkable because it is told entirely without words. It fascinates me how I can be so invested in a game where I don’t even know the main character’s name.
I have never played anything like Gorogoa, and I still think about it a lot, even all these years later. I hope it’s a world you too can fall into and connect with.