Developer: Amanita Design
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Botanicula, the latest adventure game from Machinarium creators Amanita Design, is a game that’s simultaneously charming and frustrating. It creates a beautiful and at times whimsical world in which players control a group of various insects who are trying to restore their world that’s being destroyed by dark spiders. I think. The game is entirely dialogue-free, so players just have to tell what’s going on through actions. Players must interact with the world in myriad ways to find the necessary objects and complete the objectives that will advance the story.

Botanicula-5Now, this one is definitely a game for people who can handle some abstraction in their adventures. This isn’t due so much to the style of the game, which, being an adventure about insects in a magical world, perhaps qualifies as abstractly-themed, but due to the way puzzles are solved. The interactions can be hard to decipher, since so many things are only slightly interactive: they may move upon touch, but not actually do anything. Figuring out what’s interactive and important and what is not is often an issue, and there was always one portion in each chapter that would fluster me in some way. Thankfully, because the game released on PC before, there are copious guides, but it feels like the solutions could be more ingenious in the game itself. As well, level maps become accessible early on, and the levels aren’t overly difficult to navigate, so it’s likely that through dumb luck or just frantic tapping, any solutions will be found.

Botanicula-8Botanicula does a great job at portraying its protagonists’ emotions and creating a world that is at times goofy and other timess scary, all without uttering a word. It’s a testament to the writing and art teams. However, the game’s letterboxing on iPad causes it to suffer a bit: while I suppose it keeps the game world completely free of UI elements, it also takes away when the world ends at black bars, and not at the physical edges of the screen. It takes away from some of the beauty of the game.

Botanicula is worth playing for the beauty more than for the adventure, I suppose. It’s a fantastic world come to life, and while it’s frustrating to navigate at times, the experience of the beauty is the better reason to play it.


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