Another year, another Steam Winter Sale. Having spent far too much in the autumn sale I decided to give this one a miss. I failed, obviously, and Botanicula, a pointíníclick adventure game by Animata (Machinarium creators) was the casualty.
I really, really like this game. It does everything an adventure game should do perfectly, the narrative is very nicely portrayed and there are constant funny moments leaving me smiling. There is also no dialogue, in my opinion this greatly helps the game, giving it charm without lines of text or dodgy voice acting, it keeps up the fast, random nature of the game and leaves you with a clear picture of the situation without having to wait 5 minutes for characters to stop talking. The story itself is very simple: tree is good, spider is bad; and thatís all you really need, the plot develops around the environments you find yourself in and objectives become clear as you play. The characters have their own personalities thanks to the wonderful animations and the world they live in is buzzing with quirky creatures, making the game feel fresh and exciting all the time.
The puzzles are almost always contained within one room, this really helps the pacing of the game and avoids the classic feeling of complete confusion that most adventure games induce. You will find no inventory combinations here! Many of the puzzles involve using the mouse in innovative ways, changing the game into a collection of mini-games at some points. The game never tells you what to do either, you are left to figure it all out yourself, and even though there were no real brain-benders, I felt smart after figuring out the solution to a few puzzles. Pixel hunting is also not a problem, if it looks like you can touch it, you probably can, and the reaction will almost certainly be hilarious.
Also, if you havenít already noticed, the game is beautiful. The art is unbelievable and the world feels alive. When your cursor drifts over a leaf, the leaf rustles when it hovers over a worm poking his head out, he pops back into his hole. Itís very simple but it is very charming. The subtle background colours and the unique animations of every character work perfectly with the gameís music. A mish-mash of quirky percussion and harmonicas make up the soundtrack and changes with the actions you perform, itís very catchy and quirky and brings together the home-made styled artwork.
Botanicula is charming, quirky but too short , clocking in at around 3 hours for a full playthrough. This does not include completing the gameís collection of tree mythology you build up as you progress and there are many secrets that you can hunt for on secondary playthroughs. I know that I will play it through again to try and 100% it, and Iím quite an impatient person! At full price I would highly recommend it and if youíre quick you can get it in the sale for £1.78 or regional equivalent.