My review, critique and thoughts on Samorost 3

I never was much of a point & click fan, mostly because their convoluted, alien logic tends to clash heavily with my "keep it simple" style of thinking that was beat in to me through years of programming courses. That doesn't stop me from giving the genre a try every so often, but despite my best efforts I frequently either resort to a walkthrough or just get frustrated enough to quit entirely.

Out of all the games I've puzzled my way through, I can only really say a couple were genuinely fun to me, from the beginning to the very end. This exclusive company contains games such as: The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Machinarium, Deponia, and now Samorost 3.

 

The reason I include Samorost 3 among that rather stellar group is because it manages to weave its puzzles in to the environment and the world itself. They don't feel like an obstacle you need to pass in order to continue on with the story, they are instead a living, breathing part of it. Because of this that I never felt frustrated or enraged in my 5 hours with Samorost 3, even though not a single world of spoken dialogue ever explained how the puzzles work.

I do have a few issues with the design of some of them, however, as Samorost 3 tends to fall back far too frequently on memorization-based challenges rather than straight up mind-benders that make you sit down and activate parts of your brain you never even knew existed. Guessing or repeating patterns in order to make music on a space-moth's antennas is a brilliant idea, and it fits perfectly in the cheerful, yet insane world that Samorost 3 inhabits, but some of the lustre is gone when you repeat the exact same task for the 5th time.

Its a small issue, and I'm fully aware that I'm nitpicking at this point, but the rest of Samorost 3 is filled with unique and creative puzzles that take full advantage of the fact that the world operates on a very loose definition of reality, so seeing a repeat of the same easy puzzle, over and over again, is an unfortunate waste of potential compared to what could've been. And what it could've been is a puzzle that revolves around stealing hot water from a monkey bath house located at the bottom side of a meteor, or one that requires you to help a trio of lizards sign opera in a perfect pitch, or even an entire section that has you work with black goblins from 'hell' in order to smelt a constantly-screaming plant in to something more useful.

Samorost 3 features goblins from hell

I bet you thought I was joking

If you're at this point thinking that I'm employing copious amounts of hyperbole to describe these puzzles, you would be be wrong as I feel that I'm actually underselling the bizarre charm that permeates the world of Samorost 3. Nothing has any connection with what we know of the real world, you fly through space on a mushroom you "upgraded" with a bath tub and a plastic bottle, meteors are closer to sentient mangoes than the rocky visage you might imagine, and the language spoken by those actually capable of communicating is grade A gibberish. The best part of it all? Despite everything being so strange and utterly alien, the world makes sense and its easy to get a grasp on what's happening even after a single glance.

Although, being simply weird isn't enough to keep one's interest for very long, because with overexposure even the strangest of events will become commonplace. This is where the beautifully hand drawn art come in to play as it ensures that no matter where you go in Samorost 3, you will discover something unique and well worth exploring, be that a crazy space hobo, or a giant, dead tree floating through the void of space, or even a planet of flute-based monks.

Samorost 3 is a visually gorgeous game

Someone drew all of this, now that is impressive!

I have to especially commend the art team for all of the background objects they allow you to fiddle with, without ever pushing them into your face, or making them too obvious. Instead, they are simply there for you to poke on occasion and see what interesting or funny events unfold because of that.

This is also where the achievements in Samorost 3 reside as they're all mostly based around interacting with the environment in creative and hilariously obsessive ways. They can range from simply plucking all of the petals from a flower before they magically regrow, to more complicated ones where you need to systematically annoy every single bird on the screen by poking them in a specific order. None of this is necessary, but its a whole lot of fun to mess around with fat parrots, so I fully approve of i!

Samorost 3 is a truly beautiful game

Must...poke...everything!

The one annoying part in this is that some sections and achievements requires you to repeat an action multiple times, with seemingly no different results in between, which means you will eventually go mad by repeating every action multiple times in order to make sure you're not accidentally missing something. 

This is especially problematic near the end of the game where a puzzle requires you to take multiple trips up and down a huge ladder in order to repeat the same series of actions three times before it yields an unexpected, but desirable result. In an otherwise well designed point & click these arbitrary padded sections feel even more alien than the world itself, and only serve to take you out of the experience as your hand slowly starts moving towards that button on Steam that says "Walkthrough".

Samorost 3 has some difficult puzzles

I don't want to spoil the end of the game for you, so here's a bizarre termite puzzle instead

These problems aside, the final, and to me the most important ingredient that makes Samorost 3 a joy to play, is the sound of it all. I don't just mean the soundtrack, which is lovely in its own way, but also all of the squeaks, mumbles and grumbles your character makes, as well as the various song-like noises the animals produce as they go about their daily business. One would think that combining multiple sources of sound would result in complete chaos, but Samorost 3 manages to pull it off so well that even failing a music-based puzzle sounds wonderful.

I'm not even kidding about that last part, I've spent 15 minutes of real-life time simply playing around with the trio of singing lizards trying to find out what sort of melodies I could create by adjusting the nearby reeds just right (don't even try to question the logic). Besides the actual puzzle solution, I believe I've found at least three or four other combinations that sound just as good, or perhaps even better, than the proper way of doing things.

Samorost 3 has some singing lizards

The three divas in question, you can see more of them in the gameplay video

When you combine all of the elements I mentioned throughout the review you get point & click adventure that features such an interesting and compelling world to explore that I couldn't put it down for hours on end. Even though the story itself is extremely simple, it being essentially a short bedtime story, the small stretch of universe Samorost 3 takes place in filled me with so much childlike wonder that even such a basic narrative ended up making me feel quite happy and content after righting all the wrongs of the world.

My favorite little secret when it comes to the story is how you can cancel the post-credits flute concert (again, don't question it), head to your now upgraded onion ship and fly all the way back home, to the start of the entire game. Instead of everything being the same, your dog will run up to you and deliver a flurry of kisses as he hasn't seen you in days, and if you head inside and go to bed, you will dream about all of the adventures you've been through, and all the friends you've made along the way. Even though it technically doesn't end the game, to me it was the perfect note on which to close down Samorost 3 and take some time to reflect on it.

Closing Thoughts

Samorost 3 is a lovingly crafted game that's filled with vibrant, beautiful locations and events so strange that they have managed to fully capture my imagination and leave me desperately longing for more. 

If you're a fan of Machinarium or other similar point & clicks, and don't mind paying a bit of a premium, you will find that Samorost 3 is a fantastic adventure that's well worth experiencing.

I'll have a 15 minute gameplay video up later today, so if you need a better look at Samorost 3 make sure to check back.

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