Arrog (PlayStation 4) Review

By Michael McCann 19.05.2021

Review for Arrog on PlayStation 4

Arrog describes itself a "30-minutes long puzzle adventure," something which stands out in an era where many publishers are placing an increasing emphasis, and much of their marketing push for newer titles, on longer and longer play time being a good thing. Sure, everyone likes bang for buck, but it is almost as if playtime is the singular prevailing descriptor for equating a value. The longer a game is the better! More! And, further, more! More, and for the same, great price! ...at least that's what the fat cats in Hollywood would say. Of course, it can be a great thing if every minute of play in a given title feels worthwhile or engaging, however, it is with a disconcerting and increasing frequency that it can feel like the opposite is often true. Be it reused assets, padding out of content, or a core mechanic that isn't quite realised enough to stretch the length of a 30+, mayhap 100+ hour adventure. These things can, and do, happen. Worst of all, though, is when playtime is used as a wrapper for hooking the player into a loop with the sole purpose of inspiring further purchase of in-game extras to enhance that loop; quality may indeed vary. It isn't a like-for-like comparison to be making, okay perhaps not, but the point being that it is somewhat refreshing knowing that, before getting into Arrog, one can be assured that none of those things will be the case.

Arrog weaves an intimate tale that's presented in a style which also encapsulates the brevity of its advertised play length. Sporting monochromatic drawn line art, knee high socks, and a suitably minimal soundtrack, except for small instances of punctuation and song. It has a simplistic, if also a little trendy and contemplative aesthetic. Spartan, it is, but this works in tandem with the themes and/or content of the narrative quite nicely. It is inspired by the ever present life and death cycle (the one that all know and love) as well as the Amazonian/Latin American culture that surrounds it.

To say much more than this about the narrative would be to possibly say too much. 'Simple' isn't used as a pejorative here, but it's definitely a story that's better to be experienced rather than to be explained, if that makes a lick of sense. Scenes, in this hand drawn style, though, do appear to blur the line between the literal and the metaphorical, as if told through campfire stories and parchments or some such passed on thru the ages. It's a presentation that leaves the interpretation of what happens in Arrog somewhat open, albeit perhaps beholden to a very personal perspective to a very specific thing. It's like stumbling upon and perusing an interactive sketchbook, if you will.

Screenshot for Arrog on PlayStation 4

Despite the short length, some puzzles do actually manage to outstay their welcome in Arrog, if that can be believed. An interactive sketchbook, yes, whereby the main interaction is exclusively pointing and clicking. Most sections play out extremely linearly, and with not a lot a challenge for the actual puzzles portion of the meal. When an idea is repeated for the fifth time, for that which was understood and conquered after, at most, the second go, it can be described as rather otiose when there is no other sensation of progression or flexibility to do anything else.

There is one distinct section in which it appears like there could be a clear seam and structure to have expanded on the "game" aspect of Arrog, but whether or not that was once fermenting in the barrel or would ultimately be beneficial to the overall experience is well up for debate. Most, if not all of the moments in Arrog are fleeting, and when taken into consideration with the fact that much of the other 'doing' action is not much more than what seems-first-designed-for-phone-hot-spot-cookie-clicking to progress, it would be remiss in saying that challenge or a deeper fleshing out of "gamified" mechanics were the point of Arrog at all.

An element of this missed philosophy does although also bleed out into a notice shown at the very beginning of Arrog. It is a notice that this is a title that is "best experienced with headphones" on. This onscreen text prompt is a great way to arrest the audience and wrong-foot them from the off, filling their heads with potential possibilities of what the intent of this implication is going to be. It ultimately ends up coming off as a missed opportunity, though, not really adding a great deal to the experience, and lacking that "something" it really needed to have made this particular serving suggestion memorable.

Screenshot for Arrog on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

It is fantastic to see the medium of video games 'do' and 'be' things like Arrog. Sure, it's a tricky one to review and recommend 'as a videogame' because it's not strictly one per se. It can have the descriptive, but it is also a bit more artsy, more personal, more meditative. It almost seems like it'd be perfect for a rainy Sunday morning with nothing else going on to just soak in. Definitely there is room for a lot more for this kind of thing to be incorporated into the medium and it'd be nice to see it become more of a norm rather than an exception, but it does stand out for that reason. Admittedly, it will likely appeal to a certain kind of person, one that is more contemplative, but it is also worth the price of admission to find out if thee is that certain kind of person. This is also an easy platinum to achieve. Simple, the key word here is simple. Perhaps the desire might have been to get something a little more substantial or, as Jamiroquai would say, to go a little deeper underground. But actually it's completely okay not to go deeper underground. It's easy to overeat. It's easy to have too much. Perhaps it is the simplicity that makes this work, and exist as a true alternative. Affecting and very worthwhile.

Developer

LEAP Game Studios

Publisher

Indienova

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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