Botanicula – review

Spent my weekend playing this game… to put it simply, if you have the money and the means and you like point-and-click games (or just like charming art in general), go get this game from Humble Bundle (which will end in about 8 days). You can pay what you want to get the game… although if you pay above the average you’ll get the full-length feature film Kooky which looks incredible on its own.

When I heard that this was created by the same team who created Machinarium (which I played and adored), I scrambled post-haste to buy and play the  game. The visual style’s different from Machinarium… whereas Machinarium had that detailed hand drawn look to it, Botanicula has a simplified visual style with emphasis on vibrant colours, as opposed to the muted colours in Machinarium.  It’s a perfect fit for the game’s theme, and I found the whole visual look to be very cute 😀

Botanicula is game that, for lack for a better word, looks organic. I can’t quite explain it… just look at the screenshots to get a feel as to how the game looks like. The difference is compared to a static screenshot, within the game, there’s always movement. Even if the main characters are standing still doing nothing, everything around them buzzes with life, be it water droplets, bees buzzing past, feather-dragonfly-thingie hatching its eggs, leaves swaying…

The story premise is fairly simple. A group of 5 tree-creatures (for lack of a better word) have to journey down the big tree they live in to reach the ground and plant a “seed” they’ve found… all the while avoiding a malevolent creature which had already absorbed the other “seeds” and which is trying to suck life out of the big tree, growing bigger all the while.

The gameplay is fairly standard for point-and-click, although it doesn’t have the “combine item a with b and use with c to solve puzzle”. What it has is “find x number of items”, which can usually be found by solving some mini-games or puzzles (which usually involves finding more items). Is it difficult? …for the most part, no… you can most likely finish this game without a guide and with a persistence to click various objects on the map to check if you can interact with it (and half of the time, you can, even if they’re completely unrelated to what you’re trying to accomplish).

…however, the game do have a cards collection, which is near impossible to complete without a guide. Whenever you encounter a creature and have interacted with it enough, a card of that creature will be added to your cards collection. To find these cards… you need to explore the game thoroughly. For example, at one point in the game you’ll encounter a creature that looks like a woodpecker. Clicking on it once will add its card to your collection. Click on it continuously… and on the 5th time it’d pull out a big beetle, and the big beetle’s card will be added. At another point you’ll find a jack-in-the-the-box while hunting for some items. The box keeps on popping out different items, and on your 4-5th click it’ll give you the item you need. But keep on clicking, and around 20-25th click the box’ card will be added to your collection. …the rest aren’t so easy to find.

Collecting these cards will grant you access to view mini-events after the game ends. I got 3 mini-events and I was missing around… 10-20 cards, maybe. The mini events themselves were very cute, although annoyingly once you’ve viewed them you can’t view them anymore. I tried to find it, and I couldn’t see if there’s any option to replay these mini-events. …replaying the whole game is rather tedious if I just want to replay the mini-events… although I do plan to play the game again, aiming for a complete card collection next.

As with Machinarium, in Botanicula there is no spoken or written dialogue… despite which I found it pretty easy to understand the story. It’s something of a universal game, if you will. And yet, despite the lack of word… when the ending sequence rolled around, the only word I could use to describe it was “heartwarming”. And like Machinarium before, buying the game through Humble Bundle will get you the OST… and the music’s pretty unusual, in a good way. For example, there’s a track with singing frogs.

The track above was in the game itself… and when the event sequence happened it was very cute ^^ And here’s the official trailer to finish.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yu-chii
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 01:04:25

    Sounds like a wonderful game. I might purchase it, because it just looks too good. ❤


  2. Mana
    May 02, 2012 @ 00:04:10

    Hi! So this is my first time ever commenting…And I’m posting on this entry since it’s recent, haha.

    So I’ve just recently gotten into the otome gaming world–in order to help my Japanese reading comprehension (I thought I couldn’t read for the life of me…But as I’ve been playing and hearing the characters voice along side the kanji, I’m getting better!)


    If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to turn to you for some advice and please do excuse me if you’ve already addressed this ;w;

    I bought Storm Lover, Natsu Koi and I Looooooooooooooooooooooveeee love love it. Because of it…I’m ready to start slowly building up my game collection. XD;;;

    Onto the questions
    1- do most otome games/visual novels all have the voice overs throughout most of the game?
    And is there a way for me to look for that on descriptions (like on play asia) so I know this is the one I wanna buy?

    2- Again, my reading level is poor but I’m trying my hardest to keep challenging myself. I think a good step in the right direction…Would be to start looking for guides. Most of which I assume are in Japanese, ya?

    Do you have any good websites to recommend me to?
    Or how to search for game guides– I really hope I don’t sound silly asking these things =/

    By the way, I’m only able to play these games on my PSP currently. :3

    I hope to hear from you soon! I’m going to hopefully be getting a new game to practice with soon…Right now I’m just in a toss up between which one =/

    Thanks so much and I hope this wasn’t a bother! xD


    • sharakael
      May 02, 2012 @ 18:36:25

      Welcome to the sisterhood! 😀 (although I don’t think I’m qualified to say that since I haven’t been playing any otome games lately)

      To answer your questions:
      1. Yes. Most otome are fully-voiced, with the exception of games from Koei. If I remember correctly, games like HaruToki or Kiniro no Corda aren’t fully voiced; they’re only voiced during important events etc. And no, Play-Asia wouldn’t have this info… your best bet is to try to find a review on it, since reviews would usually mention if a game is not fully voiced (with some of us being a seiyuu-junkie and all).
      2. Yes, guides will be in Japanese. As for a list, Hinano’s site has a good list and recommendation on how to find guides.

      And it’s definitely not a bother. Glad to have more people playing otome games 🙂


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Just an otome game fan. ...who spends a lot of weekends playing otome games on PC with a Japanese dictionary propped open on her lap.
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