|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.6|
Mac OS X: 10.6 | CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel | RAM: 1 GB
Reviewer's Rig:27" iMac, Core i5 Quad 2.8Ghz, 8GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD5750 1GB. Lion 10.7.3, Apple Wired Keyboard, Logitech Wireless Trackball M570
Amanita Design has always been a very curious game development studio, and I mean that in the best of ways. From Samorost 1 & 2 to Machinarium, they have always presented unique and charming games with a dash of weirdness, great music and a lot of heart. Rather than break the flow with text or lengthy dialogue, every game is an experience in exploration and storytelling through actions and imagery, sights and sounds. Not many games pull this off well, but Amanita consistently does. Now they have done it again with their new point and click adventure, Botanicula.
Botanicula is about a bunch of five friends, little creatures who set out to save their tree from an evil parasite infestation. Your journey will take you from the vibrant top of the tree to its dark and grimy roots. While the plot is simple, it's hard not to care about this lively, colorful world which is having all its life sucked out by parasites, leaving it black and crumbling.
You control not one, but all five of the little creatures at once. They move as a group, only breaking off to perform a specific task on screen or work together in tandem to accomplish a goal or puzzle. The friends - an acorn, mushroom, twig, seed and feather create a wonderful little band with endearing animations and sounds.
Speaking of puzzles, the game is filled with clever challenges. Some are one off instances to solve, while others are smaller pieces of a greater puzzle you must figure out to progress. Early puzzles are fairly simple, such as getting past a barking bug or using your twig character to sneak around some hostile bugs and grab a feather. Later puzzles get more complicated and test your spatial awareness and pattern recognition skills, but they are never hard enough to be frustrating.
One of the many great things about this game is there's no wrong way to do things. There's no rush, and you are free to wander each section of the tree, clicking on everything, watching and smiling as leaves rustle, bugs interact, bumblebees fly about and various creatures spring out and play music or sing.
Visually, Amanita Design has created a wondrous masterpiece. It's a striking look, a hand-drawn tapestry of insight into the most minute detail of nature and insects. It's an absolutely charming vision of a small, but seemingly secret world in which you can take your time to touch and feel every part of it. Each screen bursts with color, detail and subtlety. Take the time to explore and interact and you'll be rewarded.
The audio is just as the strong as the visuals. From the soft sounds of the tree and nature, to the clicks and scuttling of bugs and the squeals of glee or terror from the 5 friends, Botanicula immerses you into its small but amazing world. The soundtrack, composed by alternate Czech band DVA, is just as enchanting as everything else in this game.