Developer Amanita Design has done it again. Tiptoeing through the bizarre landscapes of Samorost 3 evokes a sense of whimsical childhood adventure that pulls you into every pocket and crevice of this beautifully constructed world. In this realm of ambiguity, you trot through an exotic childhood fantasy where every unturned stone holds the potential to fascinate and every buzzing insect is itself a toy to enthrall.
It feels strange becoming deeply connected with a world of which you have been provided no information. Ambiguity both defines and fuels your need for exploration. With no dialogue or plot information, your only point of reference is a golden horn that can be used to listen to specific objects and animals to provide instructing animations or trigger events. There is however a helpful walk-through manual installed to assist in times of need.
The story line itself is centered around this art of exploration, with curiosity emphasized and rewarded throughout. After constructing a spacecraft on your own planet, you guide your gnome character through a series of planets, the end goal of each world’s adventure being to progress to the next one whether that’s by altering the trajectory of the planet’s gravitational pull, or finding a series of keys. Trial and error is the main player mechanic – experimenting, learning, and deducting what you have to do to progress, and just what you’re progressing toward.
While this can sometimes lead to puzzles that appear difficult and intimidating at first glance, they quickly slot into place with some perseverance, observation, and sporadic clicking. While there is an overarching story line involving the stereotypical evil guy seeking to eliminate the universe, it’s told through incredibly infrequent and often bizarre means that create a general unawareness of the point of your endeavors. It would have been nice to have a clear goal and some narrative linearity, as the player is often left questioning the reasoning behind their actions.
Everything in this game world is interactive so that even the greyest of backdrops are vibrant with life. This attention to detail in the gameplay itself is reflected in the gorgeous construction of artwork it inhabits. Each frame feels like a fully interactive painting, with rendering down to extreme levels of detail and shading creating the intricate fabric of this amazingly vivid world. Even composition is utilized to create atmosphere, with experimentation in depth of field and planes of action working to create seamless and dynamic engrossment in your surroundings.
Initially breathtaking, the art style continues to shock in its sophistication with every new landscape, blending muddy browns, scratchy greys, and vibrant mossy greens with dream-like sound effects and ethereal spirits to ensure a trance-like intrigue with every visit. Even the characters seem to blend with their natural landscape, whereas similar point and click adventures feature NPCs that look like stickers on a backdrop (presumably to ensure the player knows to click them), these animals and mystical creatures become part of the world itself.
Music is an integral feature of Samorost 3. Not only is the soundtrack breathtakingly complementary to the atmosphere of the landscapes, but thematically the game plays with the notion of the natural world’s harmony through musicality. In one puzzle your aim is to correlate each of three animal’s musical qualities by moving reeds as if it were an organic mixing board, in another a piece of music must be learned and executed correctly by twanging a fantastically large insect’s antennae.
The interplay between the characters and their environments is beautifully dissected through both their consonance and assonance within the natural world. Do something right and you are rewarded with a series of ethereal tones, do something wrong and the effects can be jutting and crude in their discord with mother nature. Aside from this larger thematic execution, sound effects feel authentic and the reverberation of your horn can be hauntingly poignant.
In an alluringly charming world with no storyline, players can experience the joy of a fully interactive exercise in exploration. Curiosity is greatly rewarded, and the design of Samorost 3 is unparalleled within its genre. While some agency to our actions would have created a stronger sense of purpose and narrative direction, the depth and detail of this title is an obvious testament to the effort that’s been put into ensuring it is as engaging and breathtaking as possible.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Leave no rock unturned and no crevice untouched in this beautiful exercise in exploration
Gameplay - 8/10
Design - 10/10
Story - 5/10
Samorost 3 provides a captivating and humbling exploration experience, leaving the player to the mercy of the natural world and its puzzling intricacies though often at the expense of narrative direction.