Botany, and Dracula combine for the basis of the new point and click adventure game, Botanicula, from the makers of Machinarium. You get to lead five tree creatures in their pursuit to stop a parasite sucking the life out of the tree they live on. Botanicula has obvious ties to Machinarium in terms of game set-up, production values, and overall polish and charm. It’s essentially an all natural alternative to the machine filled world, and there’s even more evolved interactions. There’s also a very endearing collection of characters that offers well designed animations that fully convey the storyline without the need of words.
Botanicula features nine chapters to the main storyline that each present forking pathways to explore as you try to figure out what is required to advance. There are over 150 different scenes to interact with, and each one is bursting with secrets to uncover. Each chapter gives you a specific goal such as, find five keys, rescue three lost children, or collect 14 birds all to progress to the next stage in taking down the parasite. To get these different items, you will need to travel down each branch, and then try to get as much out of a given scene as possible. Part of the game is just tapping around to see what you can interact with, and then trying to figure out what exactly to do with the moving pieces you uncover.
The game is a port from the PC, but is extremely well designed for touch with multiple touch interactions available. It’s quite extraordinary to see each scene come to life under your fingertip with a continuous supply of head scratching sequences. There’s no guide, help, or hint system, so you just need to rely on figuring out everything that you come across, while also remembering each path that you have taken. One of the best parts is that amount of variety in the scenes, interactions, and puzzles to make the game always feel fresh. During your journey, you will need to use the unique qualities of the five characters to apply them under different circumstances. You will also come across mini-games, collectables, unique creatures, and a wide world of creativity to interact with.
The best thing you can say about Botanicula is that it’s the type of game that once you start, you will want to finish. There’s an endearing quality to the entire adventure so that you will want to bring down the parasite that’s destroying the varied tree ecosystem. So many creatures are impacted, and you get to interact with all of them in unique ways. There are also tons of hidden bonuses that can only be unlocked by tapping around on various items in the scene, and just experimenting. There’s simply so much to like from the ornate and creative art design to the intricately crafted puzzle sequences that offer rewarding challenges that can appeal to anyone.
Botanicula ($4.99, iPad) is a thoroughly engaging adventure that is a joy to partake in, making it a must buy.