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Arrog Review (PS4)

Arrog Is A Somber And Surreal Journey That’s Worth Its Budget-Friendly Asking Price

 

 

Arrog is an interesting little title from Peruvian indie developers LEAP Game Studios and the artistic talent at Hermanos Magia. It’s a bite-sized narrative puzzler that you can complete in as little as thirty minutes. However, while the game itself is rather fleeting, the vivid imagery and dreamlike soundscapes it provides will linger with you long after setting down your controller.

 

Only In Dreams

Arrog's depictions of traditional Peruvian funeral rites will inspire your inner anthropologist

Arrog’s depictions of traditional Peruvian funeral rites will inspire your inner anthropologist.

The game tells a dying man’s tale as he accepts his fate through a series of surreal visions. You control the action by moving a glowing cursor and interacting with the characters and environment to progress the story. Most of these actions are logic puzzles that have you doing things like arranging shapes to help a star continue on its path or remembering patterns to conduct music. Other times, you may have to do things like order a group of villagers around a small setting to conduct various tasks like building bridges or hunting wild capybaras.

None of these puzzles are especially challenging to solve. And if you do somehow happen to make a mistake, the game doesn’t punish you in any way whatsoever. That said, it’s entirely possible to brute force your way through Arrog‘s toothless brain-teasers, but let’s be honest: you’re not going to need to do that. Other “puzzles” aren’t truly puzzles at all, as they only require you to mash the X button to do things like shatter statues or chains to transition to the next location.

Of course, players looking for a cerebral puzzler will probably be a bit disappointed by Arrog‘s laid-back approach to its puzzles. Still, you can’t say the game doesn’t respect the player’s time. The stress-free flow of the gameplay keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Death waits for no man, after all.

Soaking Up Arrog’s Sublimely Surreal Sights And Sounds

 

Arrog is all about streamlined puzzles and giant capybaras. Man, I love me some capybaras.

Arrog is all about streamlined puzzles and giant capybaras. Man, I love me some capybaras.

 

But the puzzles aren’t the point of Arrog. No, they’re merely padding to flesh out what’s first and foremost an artistic endeavor, with minimal gameplay elements grafted onto the experience to extend its runtime. Usually, I’d find this kind of approach incredibly disappointing. But given Arrog‘s budget-friendly asking price of just $4, I think this was easy enough to overlook because of the sheer spectacle of it all. From its distinctive black and white aesthetic to its superb use of sound—this is a game you’ll positively want to use a good pair of headphones for to appreciate fully—it’s a jaw-dropping journey that makes a compelling case for video games as an art form.

But words can only go so far when it comes to Arrog. This truly is a game that you need to see and hear to fully understand. It’s not so much a game as it is an experience; a somber sojourn full of haunting sights and spectral sounds that you’ll want to immerse yourself in.

 

A Savory Sample Of Peruvian Soul Food

 

I know this is a concise review by HPP’s standards, but to say much more would spoil what’s already a very bite-sized offering. What I can say with certainty, though, is that I’ve been playing video games for about 35 years, and until now, I’d never played anything quite like Arrog. It may be easy and short – very short. But despite its brevity, I very much enjoyed this tantalizing tour of Peruvian funerary traditions and culture. If you’re fascinated by this kind of stuff, or just really like games with big stonkin capybaras, I think you will too.


Final Verdict: 3.5/5

Available on: PS4 (reviewed), Switch, PC, Mobile; Publisher: Nakana.io; Developer: LEAP Game Studios, Hermanos Magia; Players: 1; Released: February 5, 2021; MSRP: $3.99

Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy.

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Frank has been the caffeine-fueled evil overlord of HeyPoorPlayer since 2008. He speaks loudly and carries a big stick to keep the staff of the HPP madhouse in check. A collector of all things that blip and beep, he has an extensive collection of retro consoles and arcade machines crammed into his house. Currently playing: Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou (Arcade), Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch), Neo Turf Masters (Neo Geo)

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