If you played Machinarium, you’ll know what to expect from an Amanita Design game. Ambitious point-and-click titles are the agenda of the day, and Botanicula is no different. Ditching robots and junkyards for insects and tree-things, Botanicula is the kind of none-game game that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of the rest of your game collection.
Botanicula lets you take control of a motley crew of tree creatures as they go on a journey to save their habitat from a bunch of evil, soul-sucking spiders. Cue a ridiculous journey through a variety of beautiful and arty clickable environments, full of insectoids that range from music-performing beetles to a tribe of chestnut people. A lot of what you see is highly irrelevant, but most of the characters and environments can be in some way interacted with, whether it’s as simple as clicking repeatedly for something to grow, or a more progressive task such as collecting various items for a creature to allow access to the next part of the game. Gameplay is pretty much as simple as that and much of Botanicula’s charm relies on the player enjoying the many quirks the game throws at you.
And Botanicula really does flow with charm. Every screen is complete with something to make you grin; cute interactive insects that sing little songs when you click them, leaves falling past the screen when you hover your mouse over them – there’s just always something around the corner to make you smile. Botanicula is really best looked at as an interactive story rather than a game. Some puzzles pop up now and again, and while some are tricky, they rarely involve more than repetitive clicking on various locations. It’s not gameplay that will warrant your attention here, it’s the overall feeling of childish fantasy that makes Botanicula so undeniably alluring.
Botanicula is painted with the colour pallet happy, with each screen complete with beautiful colours and flawless design. Character models are outstanding too and suite the overall feel of the adventure, with enough variety to keep everything fresh. The only gripe with visuals is the lack of full screen, and while it’s not an issue that affects the game, it would have been nice to enjoy Botanicula on a larger scale.
Despite not actually doing a great deal in Botanicula, it’s incredibly hard to put down. The story arches out over several hours and the constant inclusion of something new, inventive and downright absurd keeps you wondering what’s around the corner. Most creatures you encounter unlock an interactive art card that you add to your collection, giving the player incentive to accumulate them all. After one play through you’ll know how to solve all the puzzles and where to find all the items, so there still isn’t much replay value with Botanicula, but the first play through is enjoyable enough to stay fresh in your mind long after its finished.
The truth is, there isn’t much of a game here. The few puzzles there are can be thundered through with a few clicks, and there isn’t a storyline as such, but with an outstanding visual design and charm oozing out of every beautifully crafted screen, Botanicula shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s currently available as part of the Humble Bundle for whatever you fancy paying for it over at http://www.humblebundle.com/for the next day or so along with a load of other fantastic games including Machinarium; get on it!
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