Twitter YouTube E-mail RSS
Home All Botanicula for Mac Review
formats

Botanicula for Mac Review

Publisher: Amanita Design

Price: $9.99 (£6.99)

Description: Explore A Wonderful, Vibrant World

App Store Link

Fullscreen Support

Mouse Support

File Size

Launch Date

Required Specifications

Yes

Mouse Required

693 MB——-

19th April 2012

None Specified

Rating

Pros: Creative creature designs and behaviours, heart-warming story and character, awe-inspiring moments, brilliant soundtrack.

Cons: Limited aspect ratio.

Review

Amanita Design is a company you may not have heard of, but if you have, it will most certainly be because of their incredibly successful point-and-click adventure Machinarium. Amanita are the embodiment of an indie design studio; under ten employees with a small studio in Czech Republic.  Such studios can find it hard moving from a first success to another project. Botanicula represents the game developer’s second major release (with Samarost2 being a small intermission in between). A new setting, new main characters, a new plot and a new graphical style, I wondered how well the company would make the transition to another game and whether it could possibly live up to its predecessor. I needn’t have worried, because Amanita have put all of their effort and creative genius into what is a brilliant and completely original game that improves upon and revolutionises an already winning formula.

Botanicula is a point-and-click adventure featuring a set of five creatures who have to return to the soil and plant one of the last remaining tree seeds. However, the black, agile parasites with the ability to suck the life out of all organic forms are slowly infecting the dying tree and are after the five adventurers and their precious cargo.

Amanita Design are extremely good at creating atmosphere. Botanicula has flung itself far from the rusty, oily world of Machinarium, and is instead set around the vivid workings of a large tree. The five little bugs you play as each have their own physical properties which will help you get past obstacles. Aside from that, your protagonists are pretty much inseparable, with no one emphasis being put on one over another. It’s endearing watching your five little bug fellows tumble through their adventure, working together, and solving puzzles.

Puzzles in Botanicula vary from the standard point-and-click object finding and combining to little mini games that break up the gameplay. You are normally given a main goal which consists of finding a number of objects, which keeps the game focussed and keeps the player motivated.

Point-and-click adventure games generally fall into one of two camps. They can either be unreasonably difficult, leaving you to combine random objects hoping for a solution (Tales of Monkey Island anyone?), or quite predictable and easy. Botanicula somehow finds the equilibrium between these two opposites with puzzles requiring thinking and exploration, but not hours of your time hopelessly rooting around for a solution. Botanicula is certainly not out to challenge and confuse, but it won’t be a stroll in the park either.

Botanicula constantly changes scenery and characters. Whilst the whole game is based around the ecosystem of a huge tree, among the leaves live a bounty of creatures, large and small, evil and friendly. However, no matter how bizarre the creatures you meet, they all have some sort of biological basis preventing them from being too arbitrary and unconvincing. Saying that, the character designs are wonderfully inventive. One time you escape from the confines of the tree to look over a huge barren landscape at what appears to be a very large rock. That’s until the rock timidly sprouts legs and a tortoise-shaped head slowly lurches out of the holes situated beneath the shell, and the now humungous beast steadily moves forward in search of food, one thundering step at a time. It’s times like these that make Botanicula as awe-inspiring as it is. And the game continues to be unpredictable and varied all the way through.

In fact, there are so many different creatures to discover (you never meet the same one twice) that the game keeps track of them through cards which can be viewed in the top menu. Unfortunately, when you complete the game, all of these cards are lost, meaning you can’t look over them afterwards, which is a shame.

Botanicula’s organic sound design only adds to the abstract nature of the game, with sound effects comprising of actual vocals imitating, say, a fly flapping its wings or a bug falling from a great height. No one piece of English dialogue is to be heard throughout the whole game. This creates a sense of untouched purity which is incredibly refreshing, and makes the experience like entering into a new world. The not-so-intrusive music also blends into the atmospheric backdrop of bird calls and rustling leaves whilst still creating a catchy tune. It is very well done.

Like all Amanita games, or point-and-click adventure games in general, Botanicula doesn’t have the same effect the second time around as it does the first and so has limited replay value. The whole game isn’t terribly long, and you’ll be disappointed when it ends.

In creating one of the most imaginative and genuinely inspiring point-and-click adventures games, Amanita has proved to be a master of environmental design and atmospheric immersion. Botanicula far surpassed my expectations, and qualifies as one of the best emotionally-driven point-and-click adventures ever.

Trailer