Developer/Publisher: Amanita Design
Platform: Mac OS X [reviewed], Windows, Linux
Genre(s): Point-and-click puzzler
Mode(s): Single player
Rating: ESRB: No idea, but it was fairly harmless and I’d guess something like E for Everyone
Time clocked: Around one hour
Sadly, I had to pack up the Xbox 360 and TV yesterday as my father came up to help me move from one apartment to the next. He was, however, running late, and I had about two hours to kill in a room full of boxes and nothing fun to play with (please keep your dirty thoughts to yourself). Sure, sure, I had my Nintendo DS, but that was kind of tucked away in my travel bag, and I just didn’t feel like getting off my Mac at that point. Then, ashamed, I remembered that I got five six games for my laptop back when I purchased the Humble Indie Bundle. Five main ones, and the sixth one, Samorost 2, was a bonus for those that helped contribue to the cause.
And so I scanned the list, trying to decide what to play for a bit. I dismissed World of Goo because I’m stuck on one level and can’t do anything else, as well as Aquaria, which is a game I like, but I really need to be in a mood to play. Finally, I picked Samorost 2, knowing nothing about it, only finding the name intriguing.
Samorost 2 is, obviously, a sequel, a follow-up to a game I’ve never played, but from what I can gather–that’s okay. You can go into Samorost 2 knowing nothing about it and still have a great time. The game opens up with a couple of aliens landing on a small planet, eating some fruit, and then stealing a strange little man’s dog because it was barking a little too much. The little man, referenced on another website as a space gnome, doesn’t change out of his PJs and follows their spaceship in pursuit of his best friend. And that’s the plot: rescue the dog and return home. It’s simple, but it works, and the world and creatures and mechanisms that revolve around the plot help buffer it along.
And man, what a beautiful world it is. The quality of the visuals is striking; the space gnome, his dog, and alien lifeforms are presented in a cartoonish form, but animated very well, giving off a Monty Python’s Flying Circus feel to it. The backgrounds (and foregrounds) on each level are extremely detailed and colorful, with a variety of alien flora and fauna (pun-intended) to enjoy, all done in a collage kind of way.
Gameplay is point-and-click, and the cursor turns into a hand when hovering over an item or part of the level that can be interacted with. Breaking tradition, there’s no inventory system, meaning if the space gnome picks up an item, it can–and must–be used there and then to solve the puzzle and move forward. This is a good thing in my opinion; I’ve been currently carrying around a lot of the same items in Broken Sword: The Shadows of the Templars, and each time I try to use them I fall flat on my face. Stupid elephant carving. Anyways, yeah. You point, you click, something happens. Sometimes you have to point, click, and click again while something is happening, but it’s pretty easy to figure out if you pay attention to the level and what does what. There were only two times where I got stuck. The first was because I just couldn’t find the exact pixel to click on, which was frustrating, and the second time came at Samorost 2‘s end when you have to do a bunch of things in a very specific order or start all over again. I did those final puzzles three times before I got it right.
Samorost 2 features a very odd, atmospheric soundtrack. Some levels have just tiny bits of music to it, some have none at all. It works well, but ultimately it’s forgettable. Also absent…dialogue. Progression and plot is told visually, and again, it boils down to “rescue dog and return home.” Some alien gruntage and a few doggy barks pepper the landscape, but it really doesn’t need a narrator or the space gnome’s opinionated musings. Though I still don’t understand why the alien monster is watching soccer on his TV.
Alas, Samorost 2‘s biggest fault is that it is a very short game. Even shorter than Limbo…dun dun dunnn. Consisting of seven levels, all of which are re-accessable via an age-old password system, the game’s running time is estimated between one and two hours, depending how stuck you get or how slow you pace yourself. I gobbled the game up very fast though. It’s extremely charming, stylish, and deceptively tricky. There’s an invisible rope attached to your heart, tugging you forward, and when you reach the next room, you just can’t help but click around, and before you know it, you’re in the next room. And so on, and so on. If you got some time to kill, I definitely recommend it. You can play a good portion of the game for free over at its website. Hop to it, young space gnome wannabes!