Botanicula Review (PC)

This game is incredibly cute and heartwarming. I have to say this outright because this is how I felt as soon the game started. The music, the visuals and everything else works together to form this amazingly beautiful and playful point and click exploration adventure game.

This game is about five friends who are on a quest to save their home from destruction. Everything is botanically themed (as you can guess from the game title) and the main antagonist is a giant black spider which sucks up the life energy from living plants. Botanicula is incredibly smart in the way that it tells it’s story in that you aren’t told anything outright. It’s creative and interesting environments are intricate and make you want to explore them, and by exploring them you’re fed bits and pieces of the story. Everything that you’re able to click on in Botanicula will reward you in some way — whether it’s the missing piece of the puzzle you’ve been looking for, or just a peek into this amazing world you’re adventuring in.

Botanicula has an amazing graphic style. It’s like a mix between hand painted objects and cut out pictures and textures. Put together it has this gorgeous feeling of being handcrafted and filled with soul and personality, like the whole world is alive. It’s positively amazing and lovable. Each environment is made with such detail and care it makes you want to click on everything to see what happens, and never has a hot-spot disappointed in this game; something will pop out and greet you or break or squeal, but it will reward you.

The sound design in this game is stunning. I could listen to the little creatures talk gibberish all day (it’s so cute!). The characters speak in gibberish, but in different pitches and different range of emotions, accompanied by picturesque speech bubbles showing you what they want to say or what they need from you. I have a feeling that most of the sound effects are just made organically by mouth as well — as in someone was standing at a microphone and buzzing into it to mimic a bee — but this only serves to enhance the Botanicula experience. Something about it makes the adventure seem so much more heartwarming. The music is so strangely unique, I’m not even sure how to describe it. It’s like disjointed sound effects put together to make music. There’s a bit of everything in there, chimes, squishing sounds, buzzing, choir, running water, clapping, everything, but how it’s been put together is absolutely brilliant.

When it comes to the puzzles in this game, they’re incredibly simple. Unlike in more traditional point and click adventures, where you collect items and try to combine them and then figure out where it goes, Botanicula has simplified all of this to, pretty much, rewarding you though exploration. For example, early in the game you find a giant pea pod that has five keyholes. Right away you know exactly what you’re looking for – five keys – and you didn’t need anyone to tell you! From there it’s all about exploration; click on all the hot-spots you find and you’ll find the keys. If you pick up something that goes into your inventory, you’ll usually end up finding someone who visually asks you for that item. All you have to do is click and drag that item onto them and voila, that’s a puzzle solved.

The only thing I can gripe about in this game is that the environments are so detailed and the levels are so big that sometimes you will get lost. You get a little map on a leaf that you can access in your inventory to help you out, but each environment has tonnes of hot-spots, and sometimes you’ll miss the tiniest one. Also, occasionally you’re not sure if a particular events is incidental or if it’s meant to be part of some obscure puzzle you’re meant to solve. That’s about all I have on the gripe-list.

Botanicula is a gorgeous experience which I think everyone can enjoy. It’s cute, heartwarming and sometimes a little cheeky. This game is a prime example of what exploratory adventure games should be like. It’s also a great example of game design in general. If you’ve got $10 to spare and you want to try something truly imaginative,and experience great story telling then Botanicula, from Amanita Design, is definitely the game for you.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

About the Author

I'm just your regular gamer! Currently working in the game industry as an artist. I love all manner of things cute, colourful and crazy. I also love lemons quite a lot. c: