Over the past couple of days, I’ve been replaying all of Amanita Design’s games and I do have to say that my brain kind of got tired from thinking all the time, even with all the cheating going on…
But to the very least I went into CHUCHEL prepared. My brain was on point, warmed (okay, waaaaay past the warmed up point, actually) up for some puzzle solving and top it off, I was in the mood for some nice comedy, since I saw the genre of the game. So I told myself “hey, after Machinarium killed my brain cells, reduced me to a pathetic piece of sh*t and made me cheat almost all the way through its second half, why not sit back and relax a bit with this one”. And trust me, it did not disappoint.
CHUCHEL is a masterpiece … truly I feel like, if a hug could be transformed into a game – then this would be it. I was kind of reminded about the time when I played Wuppo. Truly this game is happiness incarnate itself, because it did not disappoint on the comedy front.
The game follows the adventures of CHUCHEL, the main protagonist, who we control, trying to get ahold of his cherry. Over the course of the game, we “battle” for it with another creature, something along the lines of a pink hedgehog/mouse mix, however, it is not the only thing trying to snatch our cherry away. Towards the end of the game, we see that the arms, which were interfering most of the time, belong to another being, close in appearance to CHUCHEL himself, though way bigger. But the ending warmed me up, just like in Botanicula, and I so called it here as well, when CHUCHEL split the cherry in half, so that our new found pink friend can have a bite of it too. This is as far as story goes, and I know it’s very simple, but this is the point. I feel like, the main purpose of the game is to deliver a relaxing experience, you know, just set your mind off all tension and have a nice laugh, while solving some light puzzles.
In terms of puzzles – it’s no secret, that Amanita Design are a company, who delve into that genre of games and have proven that they are more than capable of creating complex puzzles that leave a person’s brain like a complete clusterfuck, *cough* *cough* Machinarium *cough* *cough*, however, even if CHUCHEL did have puzzles in it, they were more like a bonus, rather than the main aspect. In my article about the company, I mentioned that Botanicula felt a lot like a journey, and the puzzles in that particular game were hidden beneath that very façade. Here we have something similar, however while we do go on an adventure of a sorts, puzzles were hiding this time in the back of comedy. If I did say that Machinarium was definitely their hardest game in terms of puzzle-solving, and Botanicula felt the easiest, now I believe CHUCHEL takes the price of “their easiest puzzle game”. That’s not a bad thing, though, because I understand that it was focused mainly on comedy and the interactive journey, however, the one thing that kind of put me off a bit, was the lack of puzzle consistency. There were some great puzzles, alas they were not enough. About 50% of the levels focused solely on interactive funny animations and while those are completely fine, it could have been done efficiently well enough as well, if they had a proper puzzle in them, instead of just clicking on something a few times. The game did manage to take away the tension from my brain, built there by their previous games, which I marathoned one after the other, and it did that perfectly, alas maybe I wanted a bit more in terms of puzzles.
But when it comes to comedy, CHUCHEL is definitely on point! The smile didn’t leave my face, over the course of the entire game and there were many occasions where I laughed out loud wholeheartedly. This is what makes the game so relaxing and chilling out, the fact that you don’t have to focus on a complex story, to understand it, the puzzles can be easily solved, even without using the tips, which the game offers (can I just say, that just like in Botanicula, I didn’t cheat here either!), you just sit back enjoy some great funny animations, music and let the flow of CHUCHEL take you head on. But at the end of the day, I’m glad that it wasn’t chucked to the brim with complex puzzles, since the studio tries to make each title have its own original feel, and so far, they’re nailing it.
Even if not so puzzle-oriented, CHUCHEL keeps the traditional feel, which all Amanita games present – the adorable charming little (some big) characters, and how naturally well they all interact with each other (mainly with our protagonist in this case). This is the main spice, which sets all Amanita games from others and I’m oh so glad, that they kept this here as well. Also, the lack of eligible dialogue, I adore games which communicate in a different way, rather than just normal speech. It just flows so well in the way their games are built to be.
Another amazing game with a unique art style, CHUCHEL is a marvel to look at. It’s just so pleasant and cute, in all of its simplicity, truly it can touch your soul in many ways. I was sad that the game is so short, but given the playtime I had with all of their other full-length games (the only reason I have a 5 hour play count on Machinarium was because I was stuck way too often) it wasn’t really something, which came as surprising. Maybe I was left with wanting more, that’s why it felt extremely short. Sadly, just like any other puzzle game (and with humor as well), there is not much replayability value, since you already know what to expect and the only way to deal with that is let an extensive amount of time pass and then replay the game. But for a one-time experience, it was definitely worth it. The music is also something on point. I love their OST, I mean, the thing I like in music most (be it just OST or songs in general) is to be memorable, to have its own style and in a sense, when you listen to it, your mind to immediately associate it to its origin. This, in my opinion, is sincerely the most valuable quality a musical track could have – recognizability (that’s not even a word, but it is now!). And all of Amanita OST have this, kudos for which. This time we have more fast-paced and dynamic tunes, to sync with the hasty tone of the game itself. Another aspect I like about their music as well, they know how to match it with the specific game’s pacing.
Ah, so we’ve reached the point of the verdict. I’ve been handing out a lot of perfect scores lately, you know with Hellblade, Batman: The Enemy Within, Okami, etc., which is not something I do often and I’m a bit saddened that I can’t really give a 10 for CHUCHEL as well. Some aspects of it were amazing, but others I felt a bit lacking. However, this does not mean in any way that I cannot recommend this game – on the contrary, go get it now and experience it for yourselves. It’s definitely one hell of a funny adventure.