Botanicula

Botanicula Review: Read the small print and you’ll be wonderfully surprised

Botanicula could have easily been a five star game if only it had been advertised a bit differently. As I prize myself to be quite the hardcore adventure gamer and having come to love Amanita Design through its wonderful, rusty and melancholic Machinarium, I was expecting Botanicula to be a game in the same trend of witty puzzles and shaking emotion. 
And indeed, when it comes to emotion, Botanicula never fails to deliver. The main characters are memorable, the art style surprisingly beautiful in its simplicity – it looks as if the producers have stolen some doodles from a kindergarden drawing session and have infused those scribbles with divine breath. The result is unforgettable. Combined with the playful music (which is sometimes veeeeery close to annoying but never quite passes that borderline) this makes Botanicula one of the most expressive games ever. It is amazing how little is needed to masterfully tell a story which goes deeper then even most triple A titles. I can’t thus shake a peculiar feeling, as if I’m watching a cubist piece of art and I’m not sure if I should take it as it is, or dig deeper for hidden meanings and risk ruining the actual artistic message.
When it comes to puzzles though, to understand Botanicula one must turn to the developer’s website and READ THE SMALL PRINT: Botanicula is not a proper adventure game, but a point-and-click EXPLORATION game. Of course I myself, with the characteristic modern impatience, totally ignored this difference in nuance in the beginning and found myself (or rather my neurons) deeply disappointed. The game is rarely brain teasing and limits itself to encouraging spam-clicking all over the screen to discover the lush, green micro-universe. Some of the puzzles don’t even make sense, or rather suggest that this botanical word has rules which rarely respect the physical world logic. Some puzzles are obviously developed with handheld touch screen devices in mind and feel kind of clunky with the mouse.
But if you’re ready to slow down, accept this wacky universe and witness it as a perpetual celebration of life over death and decay, you’ll be facing one of the most artsy and good-taste games ever. So wipe the ADVENTURE game pattern from your mind and prepare to embrace a new kind of experience… Botanicula.

Ana Todor is a Computer Scientist with a playful and literary twist. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, Digital Interactive Entertainment.

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