Botanicula is the latest game from Amanita Design, the Czech studio that previously gave us Machinarium, and Botanicula provides a similarly wondrous experience. However, pay close attention to how Amanita Design categorise Bontanicula, a “point and click exploration” game. You’ll find little in the way of puzzles or cerebral challenge here, it’s all about exploring the environment and witnessing the absolutely gorgeous, charming and delightful tale of a group of bugs as they travel along the branches of a tree to save a seed from evil spiders.
the narrative is vague and conveyed entirely non-verbally but overcoming the spread of corruption harming the inhabitants of the huge tree that forms your ecosystem, exacerbated by the large spiders, is the primary goal. this is achieved through the saving of a seed. It’s then a matter of experiencing the mini tales from your neighbouring snails, grubs, beetles and other bugs as you unlock new areas on your journey.
it’s wonderfully relaxed too. You’ll click to progress to each screen or interact with elements in your environment, go on simple fetch quests, then sit back and enjoy the results, and the results are always a treat. Your crew of five each have different abilities to overcome the barriers they meet. Whether it be the stick insect character who can fish items out of holes or the toad stool who can bat things with its head. Each characters has their standout moments where they facilitate your progress and you’ll catch yourself laughing and smiling as the results get weirder and more charming. There are more than a few moments on peculiar designer logic that make discovering some of the secret items a chore but the strange and mysterious areas and creatures that dwell within the tree, capable of amazing sights and feats, are always amazing to witness. finding and experiencing the wonders is a fantastic payoff that I wouldn’t dream of spoiling here.
The presentation has also been crafted to compliment the mood and relaxed play style brilliantly. Subtle musical cues and sound effects encourage your continued exploration and help guide your cursor, cluing you in on what you need to do next and how you should feel. Additionally the bright, natural watercolour aesthetic suits the environment and theme better than a realistic palette ever could. It’s gorgeous yet understated.
Botanicula is a tremendous example of a unique sub genre that can still be found in this expansive medium, the point and click explorer. Each highly detailed screen is full of wonders to click on, frog’s tongues to pull, bubbles to pop as they escape from snails, singing flies and menacing spiders. It’s something you must witness and discover for yourself. There are certainly times where you may crave a little more guidance but the exploration is half the fun. You must play this game.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: PC Release Date: 19/04/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Botanicula by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.