My Favourite Game Studio – Amanita Design
To play any of the games pictured in this post (or their demos), click the images. Thanks!
I came across Czech-based Amanita Design when I was at 6th-Form College. I spent most of my breaks with friends, but when they were away or busy, I went to the computer labs. Gaming hadn’t really begun to rock my world just yet — I wanted it to, but none of my friends could lead the way and I was busy with other things.
I stumbled across a free flash game online. Do any of you remember it? This “leave the room” thing that was based on the Japanese tradition of having to set up certain things before a spirit can move on?
Yeah, that was it. Crimson Room. (Click the image to play it.) Anyway, after I solved it, I would have nothing but more puzzle games — really “adventure games”, but the sites that provided these things had decided en masse that “adventure game” was not a marketable phrase or something.
I solved a few games from the “escape from the room” genre, and was getting pretty good at them (the secret? CLICK EVERYWHERE) and then I came across this little beauty:
This is the opening screen for Samorost, the first game Amanita released. Luckily for me and all of you, the original Samorost has always been a free game. Go ahead — click the picture. Go play it. It’s on the studio’s website.
Samorost was a revelation to me. I mean you actually had to think to solve this game. Plus it’s just so pretty. All of the backgrounds are photo manips of moss and twigs — the beautiful little things you find lying about if you live near a forest. The music is atmospheric, not annoying. I couldn’t believe it was free to play.
Samorost‘s story is continued in the pay-to-play Samorost 2, which can be bought for the price of a sandwich. The bundle includes versions for PC, Mac, and Linux, and the soundtrack. It’s a longer game than Samorost, but not full-length. These two games are one of a piece. If you liked Samorost you’ll like Samorost 2.
But oh my god, when Machinarium came out. I’d played all the commission work on Amanita’s website (short point and clicks built to advertise a product or educate on some point) and I wanted some real meat; Machinarium gave me that.
What can I say other than, “this game is almost perfect”? Er. “It’s cheap, too”? Look. I sound like I’m one of those rabid fans that would stalk the people responsible for Amanita at ComicCon (if they ever end up at ComicCon, I mean). Swear I’m not. I just really love their work — in a totally mature, non-rabid–
um can i make babies with you tnx!!!!!!!!!! (Click on the image to play the demo of the game.)
One thing I have to say about Machinarium is that the minigames can be annoying at times. They’re not crazy-difficult, but I often found myself making an excellent move and then not remembering how I made that excellent move in the first place — which was frustrating, because if I suddenly got an attack of the durs and messed up at the last minute, I’d have to start from the beginning.
I much prefer moving the robot through the landscape than I did the minigames — but each to his own, I suppose. I’m a sucker for pretty scenery and good music, which, I should mention, is smashing. Really excellent. I have the soundtrack and the supplemental soundtrack at home. If you’ve played the game, you know this is important when I say that the Caribbean-steel-drum dubstep song is on the supplemental soundtrack. It’s okay. You won’t have to rip it from the game. You can get your fix legitimately.
This is one of those things where I can’t say much more than, “It’s great. Go try it,” because most of Amanita’s work appeals to that highly-personal non-verbal centre that governs what aesthetic themes draw you in. I think the games are adorable, funny, gorgeous, and fun to play. Other people might find them frustrating, boring, and plain.
Just go try them for yourself — see what you think.