Gnog

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Gnog Game Poster Image
Kooky, charming puzzler is a pleasant head-scratcher.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

You're encouraged to help others, even if it takes roundabout, elaborate measures. This is hampered in one level: You have to help a robber steal money from everyone in an apartment building.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters try to take advantage of others, the environment. Everyone else you come across is trying to get by, help others, too.

Ease of Play

Simple control scheme, but minimal level design can hide a lot of depth in terms of what you're supposed to be doing, how.

Violence & Scariness

Some instances of cartoonish head bops, electrocution.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gnog is a downloadable puzzle-adventure game. You don't go on any sort of grand quest but instead poke around inside the heads of robot-monster hybrids called Gnogs. There's a deceptively simple control scheme that hides a surprising amount of depth when it comes to figuring out the various puzzles you're presented with. There are some instances of violence, with characters getting hit on the head or electrocuted, but these are presented in a cartoonish way.

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What's it about?

There's no story to speak of in GNOG. It's a game where you drag your cursor around the screen, which happens to show the head of monster-robot gnogs that float disembodied and are free for you to poke and prod at. Inside each head is a series of interconnected mysteries and mechanisms. For example, inside the head of one gnog, you'll have to cook dinner for everyone living inside. In another, you have to make candy and chocolate flow freely for the customers inside. They don't all revolve around food, but the others are more obtuse and revolve around making patterns and elements inside flow correctly on a silly, Rube Goldberg-esque circuit board. 

Is it any good?

This puzzler is charming and bizarre and a welcome video game intended more for chilling out than working out aggressions. Even when some levels prove frustrating, the relaxed music and soothing pace make it difficult to get truly annoyed. That being said, the fact that the game includes no tutorial or real directions and lets you go at your own pace is both good and plausibly bad. It's good because it allows you to dive right in and figure it all out for yourself. For example, one of the earliest stages where you have to sort out a giant monster's obsession with eating insects is incredibly disorienting at first, but it slowly starts to make its own certain sort of natural sense. That each stage walks you through a similar mental process and leaves you to it, though, can also be bad because sometimes literally you have no clue what to do, where to go, or what to poke around on when and why -- like a level where you're helping a robber and have to thwart a hacker, whose password is on-screen at all times but tricky to replicate for some reason.

Neither halves of that necessarily makes the game "bad" or "good," just slightly thornier than it appears based on its vivid color schemes and loose pacing. You can definitely expect to hit a wall sooner or later, which proves more aggravating when you have no other stages to go back to or are equally stuck on all the ones available to you. Still, the game is fun, it's definitely weird, and it's certainly unusual. The frustrations will dissipate and spur you on, encouraging you to persevere. Just expect that to take a while.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether games like this are "childish" or only for children. Is it "weird" if an adult or older teenagers and even young adults play this game? Why do we think in terms of rigid audience divisions, anyway? 

  • What's the difference between a video game and a toy? Does it matter? How could they blend elements of one another more? 

Game details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love puzzles

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