Samorost 2 is finally here, the sequel to the game that proved to me that amazing and immersive, interactive experiences can be achieved in any browser with Flash. The original Samorost is undeniably one of the greatest casual games ever to have graced the Web, and was one of the primary sources of inspiration for the casual games focus of this blog. And now, there are two (2) brand new chapters to play in the Samorost universe.
In the first chapter, the main character from the original game—the one you helped save his planet from collision with another—loses his puppy when a couple of aliens trespass on his little planet and dognap his pet. Your mission is to rescue the puppy from its captors. The second chapter is a pay-for-play download ($6.90 USD) that continues at the point of the first chapter's cliffhanger ending. What you receive is a zip archive of the entire Samorost 2 game, including both chapters, for a seamless interactive experience.
By virtue of a "2" in its title, there exist expectations for meeting or exceeding the graphics and gameplay standards set by first game in the series, and I am pleased to report that the game does not disappoint on either count. Samorost 2 contains 11 all-new levels comprised of over 15 richly detailed alien environments. The artwork, which again is both gorgeous and surreal, contains many interactive elements that bring each scene to life before your eyes. Amanita Design achieves the same delicate balance between photo-realistic bitmap images and Flash vector graphics that gave the first game its illustrious charm.
As with the first, each level in Samorost 2 contains puzzles that must be solved to advance the main character through the adventure. A puzzle usually consists of clicking on an object to activate, a creature to perform an action, or a location to move to. Some puzzles require multiple actions to be performed; some in a particular sequence, and others with precise timing. And while none of the puzzles are very difficult, there are a couple that will require thought and reasoning to work out what must be done. As with the original, there are no gameplay dead-ends: all puzzles remain solvable no matter what you do first, and is a quality in which both Samorost games exhibit excellence in design.
Where Samorost 2 surpasses its well-established predecessor is in its size and its soundtrack. There are more animated environments to marvel at, more puzzles to solve, and more interactive elements to click in this second game of the series than ever before. Though even larger than its size, Amanita Design has pulled all stops at providing the very best music and sound effects they could find to complement the remarkable visual experiences in the game. Two talented artists, both named Tomas Dvorak, collaborated to provide all of the audio in Samorost 2, and they have produced some of the finest music and sound effects I've ever heard in a Flash game. Tomas Dvorak (nickname: floex) composed the music, and Tomas Dvorak (nickname: pif) created the sound effects as he did for the original Samorost. Together their efforts have given each environment its own characteristic soundtrack that succeeds in capturing the personality of its visuals. The music is so good, I found myself reloading the different levels of the game for background music to enjoy as I was writing this review.
On the downside, the initial release of the game has been marred by extremely long load times due to the popularity of the game and the resulting high volume of traffic hitting the servers on which the game is hosted. To compound the problem, a couple of bugs also surfaced that caused many people to experience difficulty getting levels to load properly. Amanita Design has been quick to respond to the bugs by issuing repaired versions of the game to everyone who purchased the full version.
All things considered, this second game of the Samorost series lives well up to the lofty expectations set by the first. It is every bit a sequel that includes all of the best qualities that made the first game remarkable, and then adds more environments, more puzzles, and more sound and music. The result is a game that continues the reputation set by the first as being one of the finest immersive interactive experiences available on the Web today. It is altogether a truly exceptional work of interactive art.
If you're looking to get your money's worth out of the second chapter alone, then you probably will be disappointed as it is a bit shorter than the first chapter. On the other hand, those who consider both chapters of Samorost 2 as a whole will be pleased with what they receive for the few dollars it costs. And while you can play the first chapter alone for free, Samorost 2 is a well orchestrated cadence composed of two chapters that should be experienced seamlessly together as one, and missed by no one.
You loved Samorost 2 and now you want more?
Play Samorost and Machinarium.