"Regrettably, the story never fleshes out to be more than a straight line to a happy ending, rendering the game as transparent as a point-and-click could ever be."
Since Machinarium by Amanita Games burst onto the independent game scene in 2009, new waves of titles have sought to emulate its innovative design for point-and-click games. One of these is Gomo, a wordless game with charming hand-drawn graphics developed by newcomer Fishcow Studio. How does Gomo hold itself up to the other titans of the genre? Let's find out.
After waking up one morning, our ever-silent protagonist, Gomo, finds out that his dog has been kidnapped by an alien, who demands a particular crystal as ransom with a countdown timer of one-hour and-forty-minutes. Determined to get his furry friend back, Gomo sets off on a journey to find the crystal.
Unlike most point-and-click games, and similar to Machinarium, Gomo can only touch items that are in close proximity to him. The mouse will either turn into a directional arrow for movement, or a whirled arrow for an item that is interactable. Gomo acts as he is commanded, but certain items crucial to the game have a small hit-box and require a few frustrating attempts to activate.
In order to proceed to the next screen, Gomo has to solve a puzzle or two within the screen he is in. Thankfully, all the items required to progress are in the same location with no need to track across multiple rooms. While I have no love for puzzles that require extensive backtracking, the simplicity provided by process of elimination renders the solutions almost obvious. Perhaps this plainness would be ideal for young children, but it certainly falls short for adults. Occasionally, some screens depict pop-culture references or events will happen that do not affect the game. These interludes are a welcome distraction at times, but in others, they seem forced and unnecessary.
The hand-drawn graphics are appealing, in spite of how brown everything looks, partially due to Gomo's intriguing animations, which flow smoothly without any hiccups. For a speechless individual, his reactions emote well and I often looked forward to seeing how he would act with certain objects and movements. Unfortunately, some actions, such as storing an item within himself and taking it out, offer absolutely no variation and happen too frequently for it to remain enjoyable.
Musically, the game tends to stick to simple tunes with a hint of smooth jazz, sometimes bordering on elevator music. None of the pieces leave a lasting impression, but neither do they impede immersion. The sound effects are appropriate, and periodically silly–a theme that occurs fairly often.
Completable under an hour, Gomo is short. Three minigames can be unlocked if one explores carefully, but they are insubstantial and add nothing to the main game. Regrettably, the story never develops into anything more than a straight line to a happy ending, rendering the game as transparent as a point-and-click could ever be. At its core, Gomo is best suited for young adventurers who lack the experience to take on badder aliens and higher ransoms.