Well, I know this review was a long time coming and is the first of a series of reviews I’m doing on games by Amanita Design, a Czech video game company who are also responsible for Machinarium and Samarost. I’m doing this in a weird order since Botanicula is the latest game Amanita Design released but it’s a good one to start with (also the first I played).
I mentioned in my Brief Write about Fly’N that I didn’t like artistic games that chose the art over the game play. My first impressions of Botanicula were exactly this. A great soundtrack, unique and appealing design and art style. Also like Fly’N, it has a similar colour palette (light pastels) and is also set on a tree where you control random little tree… things. Despite my initial impressions, I continued to play and found myself surprised at this very simple Point and Click adventure.
You play a group of tree thingys named Mr. Lantern, Mr. Twig, Mr. Poppy Head, Mr. Feather and Mrs. Mushroom as they attempt to save and plant the last seed of their tree that is under attack by a parasitic creature. And that’s all there is to it. Along the way you meet plenty of other insects, creatures, crustaceans, flora (who are alive as well) who either help you or hinder your quest to find the seed.
First of all, this is easily one of the best Point and Click adventures I’ve played in a long time. It’s task-based which means that in each area, you have a certain task or series of tasks to perform which will let you move onto the next area. These tasks can involve finding certain items for the inhabitants of the trees or for yourselves, solving puzzles, completing mini-games, utilising your abilities or exploring areas. Unlike other Point and Click adventures I’ve played, there was absolutely no trying to use one of the hundreds of items you’ve collected on one of the hundreds clickable things to no avail. In all cases, it was extremely clear as to what item you needed where. Even if it wasn’t clear, you never had more than two or three items at a time anyway. All the puzzles were
As you progress through the came, you can collect cards when you encounter new creatures or cause certain events to happen by clicking around. There’s also the little things that contribute to the atmosphere. For example, as you move your mouse around the screen, leaves and specks of pollen move, as if brushed by the wind. All this, along with the art style and the serene soundtrack creates a very adorable game. Adorable in the same way that gum nuts or acorns with googly eyes are adorable (because that’s pretty much what you play).
Getting around is very simple and thankfully very quick. I remember playing the Monkey Island games and constantly having to wait for Guybrush to cross the town or move through the jungles at a pace that seemed way too relaxed considering he was on an all-haste quest to rescue his woman. It’s like being stuck behind a slow-moving person in the street and that slight moment of frustration you get just before you work out how to get around them. While the quest of these tree things is probably less urgent, they move around with a speed that I can appreciate.
Naturally the game isn’t perfect but as far as issue went, there weren’t many and they didn’t do much to constrain my enjoyment of the game. I wasn’t overly fond of the way the map was done since the whole thing was drawn on a leaf. There is a bright area which shows your current location and little drawings which highlight major issues or obstacles. On the other hand, this sticks to the style of the game. The only other issue I could find was with the in-game menu which was a little counter-intuitive. Though as far as problems go, this is grasping at straws and only mattered when I was trying to quit the game (actually, maybe it wasn’t that counter-intuitive but purposefully annoying… very clever Amanita Design).
The game is around $10 for purchasing and since it is a game that took me less than 3 hours to complete, you might not think it’s worth it, especially with what I consider little replay value. Though at the end of the game, depending on how many cards you unlocked, you receive some Easter-eggs (small animations, so don’t worry too heavily trying to collect them all).