Thursday, August 6, 2009

Samorost

One of the aspects of digital narrative that I find so absorbing is that it is a form of storytelling still only in its infancy. Each new form that emerges is fascinatingly unique, and yet like any visual artists former work, you can often glimpse influences of earlier styles.

When I first came across Samorost years ago, I was at once struck by how different it was to many of the other animated games available at that time.

An enveloping atmosphere reminded me of the Myst series, but with an entirely unique approach. Designer Jakub Dvorsky describes his games as 'something between an animated story and a regular game.' Built in Flash, the first installment was released free, and such was the attention that it received, that a sequel was released, equally absorbing and fascinating.

Samerost, and its sequel Samerost2 are both games by Amanita Design, a Czech independent game development studio founded in 2003. Their work has a wonderful lingering narrative style that draws you in. Both Samerost games are filled with richly detailed and absorbing sketchbook drawings, enhanced by simple but effectively surreal animation and effects, and a story thread that tugs you gently along. The score for both games distinctively dreamy, adding a moody and memorable atmosphere to the games.

Samorost is not what I would call, strongly driven by character. The problems faced in the story are simple, the character Gnome's story arc is elementary and yet the narrative resonates because of the numerous background stories that were imagined for the series by Jakub. These were stories created by Jakub purely to develop Gnome's character, to make him more fully realised.

There is a saying, that you should know the characters in your story well enough to know the change in their pockets.
Though Gnome appears to be a simple character, he was fully realised for Jakub, and as a result, for his audience.

Machinarium is the third in the series, due for imminent release, and it promises to be something different again. While the first two releases were a gentle story driven by the reader, solving simple puzzles and following the adventures of our hero Gnome, Machinarium has more action and 'game' aspects.



I'm really looking forward to the third in this series, and would strongly encourage you to explore the two current releases in this series by Anamita Design. You can also follow the work of this innovative design company by subscribing to their blog.

1 comment:

Blacksack said...

I just discovered the games and love them. I just finished Samorost 2. I wanted to know if anyone knows what "Polokonzersa" means? It's written on the side of the spaceship and I'm curious if it means anything. Internet search came up with nothing. Anyway, they are beautiful games and I can't wait to see Machinarium.