09 June 2012


Gaming Genres: Graphical Adventure
Story Genres: Fantasy
Graphical Styles: 2D, High Resolution
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Pricing Model: Pay $
Developer(s): Amanita Design
Publisher(s):  Amanita Design
Initial Release Date: April 19, 2012
Website(s): Homepage, Homepage (dev), Facebook, Wikipedia
Botanicula is a point'n'click exploration game created by the makers of award-winning Machinarium, studio Amanita Design and Czech band DVA. Five friends, little tree creatures, set out on a journey to save the last seed from their home tree which is infested by evil parasites.

Key Features:
  • Relaxed game perfect for hardcore gamers, their partners, families and seniors.
  • More than 150 detailed locations to explore.
  • Hundreds of funny animations.
  • Incredible amount of hidden bonuses.
  • Fantastic music and sound effects by fantastic band DVA.
  • Not one but five main characters with various skills and personalities.
  • No text or lengthy dialogs to bore you.
  • Bonuses for vigilant players at the end of the game.
Botanicula is Amanita Design style incarnate, it is Samorost taken to a whole new level. It was released into a Humble Indie Bundle just a few months ago and is currently available through the Humble Indie Store for only $10.

In Botanicula you control a group of five creatures best described as little tree friends. Most of the time that it is a group does not matter, you do not often use the characters and they do not ever really separate. But there are times where the individuals do come into play; During some scenes the solution to the puzzle is to pick the correct playable character to solve the current predicament. These five tree creatures are on a mission to escape their home tree which is being attacked by evil parasites, and bring a tree seed with them to start anew and grow a new home.

Much of the charm of the game comes from none of it being boiler plate. There is no "that does not work" response or any generic behaviour at all in the game. So players are encouraged to explore the world and much of the gameplay is actually optional bonus material that you uncover as you explore this unique environment. This bonus material that I speak of is mostly interesting objects and NPCs that you uncover though interacting with the environment, usually requiring a specific series of interactions. After you uncover these bonuses you are given a card as an indicator of the achievement.

The graphics are all very unique and beautiful. Botanicula uses a mix of cut-out style graphics and drawn artwork, which include a mix of very abstract with very realistic and detailed. This is all seamlessly combined with really the only similar features being the constant use of nature as a guide and inspiration.

One "problem" with the game is that it is so removed from reality. In Botanicula there is no, or very little, concrete logic. Most puzzles are solved by clicking everything on the screen a few times; It does not matter if you have great insight or have ever played the game before, there is no logic (convoluted or otherwise) to ascertain. Some of the more logical puzzles give you a hint of logic, by giving you a concrete goal and a way to work towards it, but they almost always have some kind of random physics that mean that you have no real way to understand what any move will do until you do it. Puzzles are often (but far from always) put together logically, but since there is little to no logic for the user interaction it is at best an abstract logic that required far more experimentation than thought. The puzzles are still fun and rewarding, at lease up to a point; And you get a great exploration vibe from them specifically because of this abstract logic. It is not for everyone, but at the same time I believe it makes the game very user friendly.

Most of all I would call Botanicula a charming and endearing game. You are probably not going to be excited by the gameplay, intrigued by the puzzles, or spend too long admiring the artwork; the story will likely not engross you, or the characters interest you all that much; But, every single one of these elements is saturated with charm and extremely endearing. I would not want every adventure game to be like this, I would not even want this to become a new sub-genre, but at least for this one game it does work and is very unique.

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Indieness: Indie
Play?: Should Play

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