‘Pilgrims’ Review

Amanita Design, the game development team behind Machinarium and the Samorost series, have always been producers of non-traditional adventure games. To quickly summarize them, one might say they are known for following their own rules when making the weird point and click adventures we all keep falling in love with. The latest game released by the team, Pilgrims, seems to be another great entry in their library.

One of the self-imposed rules all the games released by the team so far is that there can be no comprehensible dialog, spoken or written. This means Pilgrims must establish player objectives and tools without telling us what they are. Unlike most non-verbal games, which would use camera angles and other visual cues to give players an idea of what to do, Pilgrims keeps things pretty open to interpretation. The most direct the game gets is when speech bubbles containing an item appear, to indicate something a character currently has or wants. How to get the item, or even if it’s worth getting, is up to the player.

In practice, Pilgrims can be completed in less than fifteen minutes. But with all the different ways players can reach the ending, this calculates to a game of a decent length. It was pretty fun thinking of different ways to be creative to reach the goals that I was setting for myself by assuming what the game wanted me to do. Unfortunately, with this wide openness there comes a lot of potential for wasted time. I think the most perfect example of what I loved and disliked about Pilgrims comes from a helluva story about my first playthrough.

To make a long story short, I ended up helping a Devil kidnap a Priest and sent them both to the underworld. But this didn’t affect my main objective at all, from what I could tell. A completely unnecessary condemnation, an arbitrary arbitration of a man’s soul. The funny thing is it was all done by me just combining random characters and inventory items, all up to the point where the priest is tied up and being carried away by the demon. I had very little idea what would happen at first, and as I was more successful and it all dawned on me, my opinion on the game cemented.

Pilgrims was a pretty fun game. It doesn’t do as much with its animation as the team’s previous game, Chuchel, but everything came together much stronger. Games like these that are so dang close to perfect make me feel very positive for the future of adventure games.

Played on Apple Arcade.

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‘Chuchel’ is an Intense Dose of Pure Adventure Gaming Goodness

Chuchel by Amanita Design is yet another confirmation that the development team behind Machinarium and the Samorost series is incredibly talented. This is a game where everything on offer is this pure dose of refined comedy with no wasted sound or visual. Everything exists to deliver jokes or game design, or both.

Back in 2012 I awarded Botanicula, another game from Amanita Design for best audio design of that year. Chuchel takes it a step further. Every character has their own unique sounding gibberish or incoherent mumbling, which mixes with the random seeming sound effects of the background into this perfect Looney Tunes styled cacophony of music and incomprehensible language.

Chuchel does well with its puzzles in a way that continued to surprise me. It felt like the developers limited their toolset of game mechanics, but expanded on what they could do every other minute. At one point we were using the basic point and click controls to play an homage to Pac-Man, while another scene showed off the game’s wordless but emotional conversations between characters.

Each of the game’s rooms took at most five minutes to solve, each having its own characters and slight twist to mechanics. I’m not usually a fan of games that offer room escape puzzles, but Amanita Design managed to make a delightful experience.

I definitely will be recommending Chuchel to any fan of point and click adventures and fans of classic cartoon tomfoolery. It bums me out that the developers seem to be having a hard time since their decision to change the main character’s color scheme, so I’ll be rooting for them and buying their next game soon as they’ll sell it to me.

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