There’s an appreciation for simplicity that I’ve found grow within me as I’ve gotten older. I suppose it goes hand in hand with the ways that I’ve evolved as a writer, discovering that the ability to convey my often eccentric voice never relied on overly complex words or flowery prose. While I can certainly still paint the occasional dazzling word picture when needed, (you should read my fiction sometime…ha, but seriously, don’t), more often than not I try to condense the scattershot mass of thoughts floating around in my brain matter into something more direct and conversational.
Created as an school project by Jakub Dvorský, Samorost is more of an exhibition in mechanics than full-fledged game, which isn’t a slight on it in the least. Its strengths lie in that simplicity, conveying a surrealist tone and atmosphere that many longer games would struggle to maintain, only lasting about 15 minutes, just long enough to tell the story of a diminutive alien and his quest to not have his home planet destroyed by an impending UFO.
It seems to be a trademark of Dvorský’s work to not include any spoken or written dialogue, instead using the familiar concepts of point-and-click interaction to show rather than tell. Just like with his later titles Machinarium and Botanicula, it puts forth the idea of games as a universal language, even when trying to present a story. It’s a wondrous thing and something I one day hope to capture in my own creative projects. While other visual mediums have long proven to master these concepts, it’s still exceedingly rare in games, very much in conflict with the need to exposition and overly tutorialize.
At risk of being redundant, I probably won’t make an entry when I try Samorost 2; far as I can tell, it hits the same beats, but they’re my kind of beats; surrealist settings, exotic music, and inventive ways of conveying a story. With a third game on the horizon, I will be curious to see how this universe translates to a grander scale. Maybe that was the intention from the start and there are some more surprises on the way. Even if it fails, I can’t imagine it being anything other than a remarkably beautiful failure.