Review

Samorost 3 Review

  • First Released Mar 24, 2016
    released
  • PC
  • MAC

One-note.

Towards the end of Samorost 3, I grew a pumpkin. I had to solve a puzzle to do it, so I knew I would eventually need the pumpkin for...something. That's just how point-and-click adventure games work. At the time, I could click on the pumpkin and watch it shake in reaction to my inputs, but I couldn't actually add it to my inventory. It wasn't until I progressed further into the level, discovered a giant pumpkin-loving anteater, and backtracked to the previous area that I was able to actually pick up the pumpkin.

This, unfortunately, hints at the disappointing duality underlying Samorost 3. Its enchanting visual aesthetic and captivating sound design imbue the game with otherworldly charm, yet its dated, underwhelming puzzles detract from the surreal beauty of the experience with moments of frustration and confusion. Relative to the inventiveness of the world and immersiveness of the music, the gameplay is surprisingly routine. Still, in the tug-of-war between the two, the triumphs of the presentation ultimately eclipse the shortcomings of the puzzles.

When you finish a puzzle, your character does a little dance. It's adorable.
When you finish a puzzle, your character does a little dance. It's adorable.

Samorost 3's setting is immediately entrancing, in part because the game explains so little about its unusual world. Your character--a nameless, childlike figure in a hooded white onesie--lives on a lush green island that somehow hangs effortlessly in space. When the game opens, a mysterious musical instrument falls from the sky, and your inquisitive character quickly discovers he can use it to listen to and play back the melodies hiding inside various specifically marked objects throughout the world. Doing so generally coaxes out crudely animated spirits, who wordlessly relay puzzle hints or light exposition that relates to your immediate surroundings.

Your mysterious musical sky horn not only serves as the only persistent puzzle-solving mechanic, it also taps into one the game's defining aspects: characters speak only in gibberish and the game contains no text whatsoever--instead, the true language of Samorost 3 is music. The soundtrack swells as you progress through areas; puzzle solutions often rely on particular melodies; and characters throughout the game dance and sing both in reaction to your presence and simply of their own accord. It's a clever and evocative approach, one bolstered by the consistent excellence of the music itself. The soundtrack employs a huge variety of unusual instruments, which cultivates an atmosphere that is at once alien and inviting.

The strange and majestic views of Samorost 3.
The strange and majestic views of Samorost 3.

This atmosphere is further reinforced by the stunning and truly distinct art style, which uses an uncanny mix of photorealistic textures and totally fantastic elements. The brilliant greens of your home planet, for example, contrast sharply with the star-spangled darkness above, creating a serene yet slightly eerie feel that persists through the entire experience. As I traveled the galaxy in my makeshift spaceship, I encountered bearded tree people, massive musical beatles, inexplicable machinery, and innumerable other peculiar wonders that made me feel as though I was exploring a children's fairytale that's slightly more unsettling than you'd expect for something so innocent.

This sense of occupying some kind of dark fable helped propel me through the experience in the absence of a strong narrative. You can glance through a picture book in your character's home that hints at the adventure ahead, but the game never establishes a clear motive, mission, or goal for your journey. At least, not until you've almost finished the game. For the most part, you're simply left to toy with your surroundings until you advance towards some unknown conclusion.

At times, this process can be a joy in spite or even because of the lack of instruction. Each level is littered with interactive objects that in no way contribute to your overall progression; they exist simply to reward curious players. And on occasion, these smaller side "puzzles" produce memorable moments of unexpected beauty: you can assemble a choir of singing termites, make a field mouse dance, or simply pick flowers. But with no clear purpose pulling you along, this sense of wonder and discovery wanes as the hours pass and the larger puzzles chip away at your patience.

No Caption Provided

To be clear, the puzzles are, for the most part, fine. I only got stuck once, and even then, I managed to power through with a little extra experimentation. However, outside of their compelling presentation, solutions are generally simplistic or worse, convoluted. Many puzzles hinge on extremely subtle visual cues and a healthy dose of suspect logic. Sometimes you'll need to backtrack to a previous area or repeat the same action multiple times despite receiving no indication you need to do either. I found myself wondering, "What the hell am I even doing and why?" far more often than, "Hmm, how do I solve this puzzle?"

Puzzles also don't grow any more challenging or intricate over time. You don't acquire any persistent items beyond your horn, so the final level contains exactly the same types of strategic switch-flipping and pattern memorization found in the first level. This design choice seems to emphasize investment in the world over simply beating the game, but puzzles still constitute the vast majority of Samorost 3's actual gameplay. Beautiful though the world may be, the experience still forces you through these puzzles. Thankfully, you'll at least have access to a helpful hint book that displays sketches of each solution without explicitly telling you what to do.

Though I did eventually grow bored of its puzzles, I never tired of Samorost 3's world. Added mechanical depth and variety would have certainly made the game richer, but every subtle visual detail, every lingering musical note, every delightful interaction coalesces into a truly special world that makes Samorost 3 worthwhile nonetheless.

Back To Top
The Good
Distinctive visual style
Engrossing off-beat world
Splendid soundtrack
The Bad
Bland puzzles
No clear goal to push you forward
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Scott took his time with Samorost 3 and still completed the game--including the majority of its side puzzles--in roughly six hours. He received a complimentary Steam code for this review.
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Litchie

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Samorost is awesome. Playing the third now and loving it.

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Gelugon_baat

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@EternalUniverse: You could have just stopped at saying that you were making a joke, you know.

Yet, that you have gone on to make a diatribe about drug use, and the fact that you don't seem to have any posts on GameSpot prior to this since the registration of your account in 2010, gives me the impression that you have some strong opinions that you don't think twice about stating out, regardless of the appropriateness of the occasion.

This is a game site, dude. If you want to make remarks about drug use beyond the intention of making a joke, go to the Off-Topic board, or go elsewhere.

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Gelugon_baat

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@battledog: I saw that, before you deleted it. I did set notifications for myself.

Sure, EternalUniverse might have "good points", though perhaps only in the eyes of those who disdain drug users - yet like I have said, this is not the best channel to express them.

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Bill

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Smoke some weed and play this game. It's amazing

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EternalUniverse

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@bill: No.

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Gelugon_baat

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@bill: Indeed - Amanita Games does not hold back on suggesting substance use, ever since the first game. You will see characters puffing bizarre shit.

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EternalUniverse

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@Gelugon_baat: All the more reason to stay away from their games, then...

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ferna1234

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Edited By ferna1234

@EternalUniverse: yeah, like all other game devs don't touch a drop of alcohol, nor any other recreative substances. hypocrite.

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EternalUniverse

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@ferna1234: I'm not a hypocrite. I very highly doubt most gaming company staff do drugs, except maybe the occasional drink at home. You need to be extremely smart and educated to know how to make a video game, especially the ones today. I have no clue how they do it, video game developers are geniuses... but I know for a fact that if they did lots of drugs they'd have no ability to make them. They need to be able to function and think clearly to develop these things, they need discipline, maturity and determination, a clean, healthy, non-corrupted mind. That's basic common sense. I'm sure only a minority of developers use them and they are the ones making these pretentious, druggy point-and-click indie games.

To be honest people who need to use drugs to enjoy ANYTHING are pathetic and have a closed mind because they are too cowardly to open it. But of course in this extremely politically correct, over-offended, weak society that hates the idea of being clean and sober because it's "boring", I guess I'm not allowed to have this opinion.

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ferna1234

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Edited By ferna1234

@EternalUniverse: your vision of people who do drugs is absolutely wrong. With that whole paragraph, you're not making any point but exposing your tottaly biased, ignorant, personal opinion and your obious lack of experience with drugs and people who use them. You're depicting addicts, which is a tottaly different thing to "users". I'd dare to say that at least HALF of all the people, be it free lance or profesional in the creative industry has done, or does regular drugs and or alcohol. That does not imply they have no dicipline or motivation whatsoever. You're speaking from hate and disgust rather than actual objective information, which leads to an undebatable enviroment of discussion. I'd like to ask YOU to be open minded, and from your sober point of view, to explore realities different to yours and try to understand them, rather than speculating and hating.

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iabstract

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Edited By iabstract

@ferna1234: Pretty much this. It's clear @EternalUniverse has no idea what they are talking about. You'd be surprised how many people function and lead normal lives on drugs (legal and illegal) and alcohol. I've known people who've functioned on heroin, booze, weed, pills, coke, cigarettes, etc. And they have worked in every industry: IT professionals, lawyers, doctors, etc. so yeah, i can guarantee that 50% estimate is conservative at best. Most people can't function without caffeine, so I assume @EternalUniverse is equally disdainful about that.

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Bill

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@Gelugon_baat: I didn't know that so I did a quick google search and found an interesting pic from an interview with one of the devs. http://i.imgur.com/ZP5Gz.jpg

Very interesting team. I shall keep an eye on their games more for now on.

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Gelugon_baat

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@bill: That doesn't look like the cannabis plant to me.

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miser_cz

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@Gelugon_baat: Thats Czechs for you :)

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xantufrog

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Edited By xantufrog  Moderator

The artistry is something else. Not sure if I'll get it or not, but I love how much fun indie (and faux-indie) devs are having with visuals

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hystavito

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@xantufrog: Faux-indie, I love that, I'll have to start using that term to save typing :).

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snugglebear

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It's so odd, to me, seeing an actual review on GS for this game. Seems more like fare for Jayisgames.

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Samorost 3

First Released Mar 24, 2016
released
  • Android
  • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
  • Macintosh
  • PC

As Samorost 3 begins, a little space gnome finds a strange magical flute that falls from the sky. He uses the instrument's powers to travel to the cosmos in search of its origins, scouring the alien landscapes of five planets and four moons to solve clever mysteries along the way.

7
Good

Average Rating

13 Rating(s)

8.1

Developed by:

Published by:

Genre(s):