Jakub Dvorský proved that language need not be a barrier to Point & Click Adventure games. Using simple yet elegantly descriptive visual clues, Jakub’s games, which include Samorost and Machinarium, lead the player on an intriguing and dramatic journey through deep, thought-provoking worlds. The art games he has created were game-changers for independent Point & Click developers whose main budget haemorrhages are often voice acting and localisation. People saw that using simple visual clues, intelligently and plausibly hidden within the game world, they could create stories that both captivated the player and inspired them to keep exploring the world they found themselves in. Try as it may, Gomo fails to be a quality Samorost clone, despite being all about a Sackboy and his kidnapped puppy.
The first thing that started to get on my nerves about this game was that not all interactive elements within a scene are interactive at the same time. Many scenes are split into segments, which means there are certain things you can only use if your character is standing at a specific place in the room. This is a practice I simply thought no longer existed in modern Point & Click games. I would understand if you’d have to climb a flight of stairs in order to interact with the items on the second floor, but these splits exist in single-story horizontal scenes as well. The worst thing about this feature is that the character moves relatively slowly along, so you will spend a lot of time waiting for the character to get somewhere in order to be able to do something.
The game is not very intelligently designed. I know that sentence makes me sound extremely elitist, but bear with me. Each scene is very simple and there is very little challenge to the game. You will never carry more than three items at a time, they are never to be combined, and their use is always pretty obvious. The interactive elements in the scene often feel very tacked on. Almost as if the levels and art of the game were made first and the items blocking your way then tacked on afterwards just so you couldn’t simply move the character to the end of the line. Elements in the scene on which items in your inventory can be used are not marked in any way. They simply look like background items when you hover over them until you click on them with the correct item. This could cause some confusion for those who are used to being able to inspect all interactive items beforehand.
In one scene you will have to get into a tree house. The key you need is in a box which is closed with some sort of strap and a knife is stuck in one of the branches on the tree. Two movement phases are required to get up in the tree to collect the knife. Then you have to move twice again to get back to the box. After cutting it open to reveal the key to the door, you will need to perform the same two movement steps to get back up into the tree to open the door with the key. Why a knife would be stuck in a branch and why any home owner would leave a key to their front door in a closed box outside their house is beyond me and this is one of many puzzles that make me think they were an afterthought. At the very least, they are not well done.
The only positive thing I can say about this game is that the art style is cute and serves the game well. In fact, with the annoyances of the gameplay design the nonsensical, barely existing story and the disappointing puzzles, the visual art is the only thing that really holds water in this game. Apply it to almost any other Point & Click and it would be O.K. Not great, but O.K.
I might buy this game as an exercise in logical thought for my six year old child (if only I had one) to show it how the correct answer is usually the most obvious one, but it isn’t good for much else. In the sea of high-quality Point & Click games being released these days, this game drowns like the weighed down bag of unwanted kittens it is. It’s cute, but it’s useless. Let’s just call it what it is.
Cute art style.
Short, easy, frustrating, frivolous, and disappointing.