Like Amanita Design’s previous point-and-touch adventure, Machinarium, Botanicula (out now, $4.99) is devoid of any dialogue. Both present wondrous worlds but differ considerably from there on. While Machinarium features a futuristic milieu of machines and robots, Botanicula is all about nature.
It’s common in most such games to journey through the world through the eyes of one protagonist, but Botanicula gives us five adorable creatures: Mr. Lantern, Mrs. Mushroom, Mr. Poppyhead, Mr. Twig, and Mr. Feather. Each possesses unique abilities. For instance, Mr. Twig can probe around hard-to-reach places by extending and growing one of his many “arms”, and Mr. Feather can, quite understandably, fly.
The evil that begins their tale are the nasty black spiders that go about sucking the life out of the forest, destroying leaves and killing fellow inhabitants. Our five protagonists thus are roaming about in an attempt to save their forest. Along the way, they meet other forest inhabitants, listen to their tales (presented as voiceless animated scenes), and sometimes render assistance to others.
To proceed from one part of the story to another, you’ll have to find various objects, such as three feathers in the very beginning. Running along various branches of trees or vines or whatever, you’ll encounter different, often peculiar situations. The game never offers any instructions, so you’ll have to explore the environment through random tapping and swiping. Some items, you will find, can be moved. For some others, you may have to tap them multiple times, or tap and hold on them to obtain an effect. Sometimes, this will result in you finding the required object. At other times, you’ll discover a new creature that will be added to your collection of “creature cards”. Once you find all the objects in the current quest, you’ll proceed to the next chapter in the story.
Botanicula is an endearing experience complete with charming music and cute sound effects. The only drawback in this beautiful game is that it offers no hints in the event you get stuck. Fortunately, if you wish, you can find online walkthroughs to help you. Some of the obstacles or puzzles may be obscure enough that it’ll take a lot of random poking around here and there. Once you discover it though, you’ll often find the solutions aren’t all that convoluted.
Exploring the world of Botanicula was amazing fun. I enjoyed interacting with the various objects in the environment and discovering what happens next, mostly because the different forest inhabitants behave in different ways. Anyone with a love for adventure games should certainly embark on this.