The surprising news the other day was that Samorost 3 is on its way, launching on PC and Mac on March 24, 2016. That’s awesome. I mean, to be honest, I haven’t really thought about the Samorost series in a good long while. I played Samorost 2 way back in the day (circa 2010, when I was moving out of my studio apartment), and only just realized with the latest news that I never touched the first in the series, though I did bang my head against a wall for hours in Machinarium, less in Botanicula. Suffice to say, I like Amanita Design’s games, as weird as they are, and I want to eventually play them all.
That’s why I headed over to the developer’s website, where you can play the first Samorost for free in your browser. It’s fairly short, depending on how good of a clicker and puzzle solver you are, and it’s more about interacting with the environment than controlling the space gnome directly. The story for the premiere entry in the series is that an asteroid is on a direct course to crash into the gnome’s home planet, and he will do whatever it takes to not let that happen. And so you’ll travel to this asteroid, which is full of life and machinery and isn’t just some hunk of rock hurling its way towards death and destruction, and try to change its path. You do it by clicking, deducing.
Almost instantly, you’ll find yourself in a strange, surreal world with Samorost, where common combines with odd, solving somewhat leisurely puzzles that occasionally require a bit of extra thinking and clicking. Paying attention to everything happening on screen is vital to making progress, even if it is as minor as bugs making noises or the way a signpost is facing. Sometimes it is difficult to take everything in when you are presented with this gorgeous, stunning mix of reality and artwork. At times, it can be jarring, like the screenshot above, but for the most part it becomes the norm, and you begin to believe in this strange planet and wonder how these critters and beings survive and whether or not they also know they are on a bad path to their own demise. Well, I did.
Thankfully, the day was saved, as well as the space gnome’s home. I just skimmed my review of Samorost 2 to remind me what happened next, and it involved a dog getting kidnapped by aliens. I wonder what the plot to Samorost 3 will be; truthfully, it doesn’t matter, because this is the sort of point-and-click adventure game where what’s on the screen and getting to the next one to see more wild imagination come to life is the reward. I’m sure something will drive the space gnome forward, but it’s not essential for me to care about. It’s the journey that matters, and the locations so far are absolutely stunning in their strangeness, their ability to be unnatural and yet familiar, a place one could live in if that was their role in life.
Between this and Night in the Woods, 2016 is shaping up to be stellar for adventure games. I also need to get around to Oxenfree and Firewatch at some point as well. Too many amazing titles to try, not enough time. Such is life, when you are not a space gnome.