Botanicula

The madcap adventure Botanicula sets you may be a breeze, but boy is it a weird one.

By c_rake, Posted 18 Jul 2012

Spiders are evil. I say this not as an arachnophobe, but because in the microscopic world of Botanicula, they're total jerks. The eight-legged monstrosities siphon the life out of all that surrounds them, feeding indiscriminately on whatever they can get their grubby little mitts on. Their latest target? Trees.

It begins when one such arbor blooms. A nasty spider then descends upon it, eating the seeds, causing the arachnid to grow in size, before moving to the trees “veins.” One seed escapes, however, and lands in the hands of a motley crew of assorted creatures (a walking stick and mushroom are the only describable ones). Knowing something is up, they quickly elect to take the seed to safety, and possibly take out the spiders along the way.

Botanicula is a point-and-click adventure, but of a lighter variety. Simplicity replaces complexity. Long, convoluted puzzles give way to easier, clearer conundrums. An adventure game without all the unnecessary fluff, that entertains not through difficulty but charm, its hooks the plain elegance of the elements that form the basis of the genre.

Botanicula, Review, If you can find a way to accurately describe this... thing, I will personally reward you

Amanita Design traditionally crafts adventures of the low-key sort. Short in length and abstract in delivery, their works embody the general spirit of indie games: that sense of the strange and foreign, something obviously made by a small team, the feel of something that wouldn't be possible in a big-name project. Botanicula invokes the aforementioned through its odd art and world.

A paper cut-out aesthetic depicts the diminutive setting. Stiff animations abound, everyone and everything animates about with the grace you’d expect from moving about flat figures in a hopping sort of motion to fabricate movement. The abstract and incomprehensible rule, creatures ranging from based in reality to the alien and out-of-place (e.g. a living peanut) to... the indescribable (see above). Vibrant and listless locales illustrate the life and desolation through dull colors and bustling backgrounds, respectively.

Botanicula is about interacting. Puzzles, while present in the form of brief trade and fetch quests, merely act as an extension. Botanicula embraces the point-and-click concept to its fullest. It is a game that quite literally is about pointing and clicking; specifically on everything around you to see what results bear forth. Perhaps it’s causing an insect to jump with each click, or maybe a causing a two-man band to play a myriad of instruments. Whatever the upshot, its sure to delight and weird out. Never does it attempt evolution, content with what it is, as it should be. Directing the focus toward interaction rather than problem solving is a nice change. Means less time spent searching and more spent moving forward.

Levels are quick, each lasting no more than maybe half-an-hour at most. Objectives are straightforward and effortlessly achieved, simply a matter of moving about until one of the targets present itself. There is a couple instances where what I needed to do was unclear (e.g. pulling back a string to propel a bird-like thing off of there), though luckily they were rare, preventing them from bogging down the otherwise brisk pace.

Botanicula, Review, Busy settlements really add a sense of life

Botanicula has a story to tell, but its abstract delivery pushes it into the background. It becomes more a vehicle for moving between locations rather than the driving force; the game's charm, sights and scenes carry that role. End-of-level cutscenes depict how the crew gets around, usually through some madcap means; a bee acting as a blimp of sorts, for instance, or a bird-powered flying machine being almost taken down by an especially large arachnid.

The accompanying upbeat, springy soundtrack carry the scenes onward, positing an extra dose of character through the many instruments used. They all produce a strange collection of noise that is difficult to describe, but matches the otherworldly sense the aesthetic gives off. DVA, the group responsible, is nothing if not experimental.

Botanicula won't last long (took around three hours for me), nor is it remotely challenging. The fun and whimsy to find within make it worth exploring, however, and its charm is undeniable -- a delight to behold. It’s simplicity itself, and all the better for it.

Callum Rakestraw, NoobFeed.

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  • This sounds intriguing to say the least. Depending on the price, I may check it out.


    Posted Jul 19, 2012

  • @XboxBetty -- It's only $10. Low system requirements, too.


    Posted Jul 19, 2012

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General Information

Botanicula

82/100

Platform(s): PC, Mobile
Publisher(s): Amanita Design
Developer(s): Amanita Design
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2012-04-19

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