What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Botanicula is a point-and-click adventure game starring plant-like creatures who live on a giant tree. It contains subtle themes of environmentalism, but is primarily a game of exploration, discovery, and imagination, thanks to its beautiful and unique world and characters. There's a bit of scariness in the form of shadowy monsters that try to attack the game's protagonists. One scene near the end of the game has one of the player's bug-like heroes charging himself up before "shooting" an enemy. Within a short puppet show, a dragon is decapitated and bleeds onto the stage. Given that this is an indie game that is distributed via download, this game has not yet rated by the ESRB. Common Sense Media recommends it for ages ten and up.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
- developing novel solutions
- achieving goals
Engagement, Approach, Support
The tree that players explore via the game's five friends is a wondrous sight that draws kids in. And the simple point-and-click action is pretty much the definition of accessible design.
Kids will solve puzzles mostly by trial-and-error. Themes of environmentalism and ecosystem preservation are overt and will cause thoughtful kids to ponder plant and animal relationships.
Some instruction is provided, but players are generally left to identify and work out solutions to puzzles on their own. They may need to look up walkthrough videos for the game's trickier areas.
What's it about?
BOTANICULA is a point-and-click adventure game that puts players in control of a quintet of tiny beings that are a cross between insect and plant. Its wordless story -- everything is presented through images -- begins with one of these creatures encountering a spider-like monster intent on gobbling up the big, beautiful tree. Then begins an adventure in which the five friends journey up and down the tree, foiling its parasitic invaders and helping their fellow arboreal creatures. Players spend their time observing the environment, looking for interesting and suspicious things to click on as they travel from one screen to the next. They'll encounter plenty of puzzles along the way that require either an eye capable of detecting subtle patterns in their surroundings or patience for the trial-and-error process. The adventure lasts around six or seven hours.
Is it any good?
Botanicula is an extravagance of imagination. The veins of the great, strange tree throb with life, and the animals that crawl over its branches are almost alien in their bizarreness and variety. Many would border on creepy if not for their adorable, babbling voices and human-like needs, desires, and emotions. The ecosystem formed between plants and creatures is wonderful to witness. Many of the tree's curiosities have little to do with the game's primary objectives, existing instead simply to delight the player and provide an opportunity to collect "creature cards."
Sadly, some of the magic may be lost should players have trouble finding their way through the game's expanding maze of non-linear location tiles. Plus, while many puzzles are elegant and require some satisfying reasoning, some will likely force players into a series of random, trial-and-error clicks as they search for a solution. Others require players to retrace their steps through vast maze-like environments. Still, the unique world of Botanicula is a pleasure to discover, and one most players won't soon forget.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the violence that shows up in the puppet show. Why would the game developers put a bloody scene into this otherwise peaceful game?
Families can also discuss puzzle solving. What do you think of puzzles that can only be solved via trial and error? How about puzzles that demand logic and reasoning?
Botanicula shows n fantasy ecosystem in a tree. Families can talk about the environment and real ecosystems formed by trees, forests, and the small animals that inhabit them. What would happen if the food chain were interrupted at the insect level?