Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure
Release date: March 10, 2016
The Samorost franchise began as a strange flash game on a mysterious website. Over time it became known for an originality and simplicity that has become synonymous with developer Amita Design who, to date, has always delivered on these expectations. After a ten-year gap, the team has returned to its original odd child with Samorost 3: a title that transcends its predecessors, and breaks from the familiarities many of us have with Amita Design. It is their most complete and rewarding adventure yet, despite falling victim to some of the same inherent problems seen in several of their other games.
What quickly surprises with Samorost 3 is the imaginative visual style which manages to fully exceed expectation, completely utilizing every advancement Amita Design has had through the years in order to deliver an enormously accomplished visual blow-out. From the initial screen, the game is brimming with life and splendor, with countless animations at every corner. Right from the get-go you can chase bunnies with your cursor into rabbit-holes, click on your dog and witness a variety of hilarious canine behaviors, or even click the colored leaves off a tree and listen to some gorgeous complementary music play in unison at every click.
In terms of its predecessors, the atmosphere is less hauntingly mysterious and more boastfully vibrant and exciting. Whereas in previous adventures you felt more as though you were falling through the world -- stumbling through the environment as you progressed -- Samorost 3 feels as though the entire universe is open for exploration, a feeling that continues to build the further you go. Once you manage to build the spaceship very early-on in the title, you begin to climb your way through the space and the galaxy around you, landing on giant projectile chicken wings and similarly absurdly-misplaced floating objects as you go from planet to planet. This gives Samorost 3 a deeply satisfying open-world feel to what’s mechanically still a fairly linear game.
What really separates Samorost 3 from the familiarity of Amita Design’s linear A-to-B mazes is how intricately involved and self-sustaining every screen is. Each comes with its own logic, characters, and stories, making it feel as though you’re experiencing countless mini-adventures in a continuous, flowing succession. Nearly everything you see on each screen has a contextual significance to the situation at hand, which is impressive considering how Samorost is a series you can literally throw any random absurdity into and not have to explain.
An early instance involves stumbling upon a backdrop of apes bathing in hot springs which are built into an organic root system protruding from the bottom of the planet. While initially their presence appears there for sheer background absurdity, (and is effectively striking), eventually the apes themselves are upset at the secondhand results of your puzzle-solving in the foreground, and they physically intrude into the scene until you reconcile their objections.
Needless to say, this makes for a lot of enjoyment throughout the game as you really become involved with every character and environment as everything has a significance or deeper layer. There were a number of times when I thought that a scene couldn’t possibly have anything more to show when the game one-upped me and showed something even crazier -- sometimes transforming an entire environment with color and musical grandeur, or constantly making dark and empty spaces feel bright and mystical.
There’s so much charm in the mere stylization of the title that it essentially makes the whole game. Something I really became attached to was how the sound effects were a mixture of real-world sound effects and clearly human vocalizations portraying the sounds. For instance, for wind sounds you’ll actually hear people making “whishing” and “whooshing” sounds, and it works perfectly well in terms of Samorost’s creative tone. Samorost 3 never once panders to its trippiness or diminishes its accessibility. With harmonious beatboxing rodents, a dimensionally-transformative flute, and the bubble wrap-embroidered shell of a giant turtle, Samorost 3 always feels fun and outlandish without ever once being alienating.
What’s equally grand is how naturalistic and creative every puzzle feels. So much so that it doesn’t so much feel like puzzle-solving as much as simple experimenting and discovering everything the world has to offer. Even a simplistic card puzzle was enormously engaging due to sheer embellishment as each card is animated with moving figurines that interact with each other depending on where each card is placed, ultimately telling an entire story when placed in chronological order -- which really wows in terms of puzzle design, just as the whole game does.
Despite Samorost 3’s remarkable charm, as in the earlier titles we once again have a character with no name, in a world where everyone speaks gibberish and doesn’t really have much to say in the first place. While the style is more than enough to forgive the flaws, it would seem that Amita Design games are best suited for a mobile platform, a realm where style and simplicity over substance is most appreciated and successful. As a standalone adventure on my laptop, I felt the appeal was being lost in a big way. Even though Samorost 3 is a fairly short affair, I felt I wasn’t able to experience it in a way that could hold my attention very effectively.
Fact of the matter is, I find Amita’s work far more engaging on an iOS platform or in flash format rather than having to boot through Steam on my laptop computer. Fortunately, Samorost 3 is scheduled for an iOS release. Ultimately, Amita’s preference of having a barely coherent story and dialogue and no clearly-defined narrative to drive the adventure made it hard to become fully invested in a title that took up my entire computer screen.
Samorost 3 is a deeply gorgeous game. While the lack of narrative content and the simplistic point-and-click mechanics certainly make this title better-suited for a mobile platform, no Amita Design game has ever matched this level of depth or sheer beauty. The puzzle design is phenomenal and in terms of general art, style and tone, you’re not going to find another experience like Samorost 3.
+ Stunning visual design
+ Astounding puzzle design
+ Beautifully flowing environment with lots of characters and scenes
- Narrative content near nonexistent
- More suited for mobile platforms