GoNNER wants you to cheer up a sad whale by dying over and over

GoNNER creator Mattias Dittrich—who goes by Ditto—describes his game as “tough as hell,” and he’s not wrong. It’s one of those games where I ask myself just why I keep clicking continue; death after death, I am thrown back to the beginning of the game. That is, unless I have enough currency to buy my way back to the level I died in—which I never do.

GoNNER is a 2D platformer by creator Art in Heart with serious roguelike elements, not unlike The Binding of Isaac (2011) or Downwell (2015). It’s almost as punishing, too. But that’s not to say GoNNER is unfair or impossible. It’s not, which is why I do keep coming back to it, just to get punished over and over. Simple mechanics—shoot, jump, equip one extra ability—paired with steady level progression provide you with exactly what is needed to get through each level. The only thing stopping you is your (and my) inability to not die. Harsh, I know.

It feels good getting through levels

It feels really good getting through levels, even the easy ones; paying attention, learning what works and what doesn’t, is essential. GoNNER, technically, pushes that along—though it’s only through playing and replaying that players will start to get it. And then, once you’ve gotten the hang of that, GoNNER starts unlocking different pieces of equipment—motivation to keep going—to fit new, unique challenges. Still, these are simple—you can change heads, weapons, and backpacks. These three working parts create combinations suited to different play styles—of which will be discovered only by playing more and more.

GoNNER is plain cute, too—and that definitely doesn’t hurt its replayability. I want to see the other dark and weird worlds Ditto has filled with increasingly adorable enemies. (So far, I’ve seen two worlds, and each is more cute than the last.) That’s not even to mention the pal you’re putting yourself through this whole thing for, either: Sally the whale. You’re traipsing through GoNNER’s deadly (and cute) mazes to find little trinkets to cheer her up with. Aww.

Cheer up Sally yourself by buying GoNNER for 10 bucks on Steam. GoNNER was released October 12 for PC and Mac.