Daedalic Scores Big With Two Small Indie Adventures

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If you are an avid adventure game player, by now you should be familiar with the works of Daedalic Entertainment. Over the past few years the independent German studio has played a lead role in revitalizing a genre that haters always like to tell us is dead, with series like The Whispered World (the upcoming sequel looks gorgeous!), Deponia, Edna & Harvey and The Dark Eye proving such claims are absolutely ludicrous. More recently, Daedalic has helped bring the adventures of other indie developers to the forefront, namely Gomo from Fishcow Studio and Journey of a Roach from Koboldgames. These two titles are on a smaller scale than Daedalic’s own adventure game productions, but they are full of heart and were clearly designed with the same high level of passion for the genre.

The unbreakable bond of friendship is the narrative theme that unifies these two titles. Gomo tells a surreal tale about an odd Sackboy-esque chap’s quest to rescue his beloved dog which has been abducted by aliens and held hostage for the ransom of a mysterious crystal. Journey of a Roach hits on a similar note in its chronicling of the buddy-bug misadventures of Jim and the seemingly never-ending responsibility he has to rescue his hopelessly accident prone pal, Bud, who spots a faraway flower sprouting from the dirt in the nuclear wasteland they call home and, in his efforts to reach the blossom, ends up plummeting into a bomb shelter infested with ants and other creepy crawlies.

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Neither game has even a word of intelligible speech. Instead, spoken dialogue, story cues and puzzle hints are delivered through cute gibberish-speak and animated pictographs depicted inside thought bubbles. Journey of a Roach takes the presentation further by using cutscenes in the form of animated comic book panels, matching up with the game’s polygonal in-game graphics which have sort of a comic-shading effect with thick black outlines around objects. Gomo on the other hand has a more traditional 2D hand-drawn aesthetic that isn’t as detailed but will still charm your socks off with one look.

Both titles fit the point-and-click adventure mold, including a heavy emphasis on searching scenes for items and figuring out how to use or combine them with other objects to solve puzzles, but beyond that actually play quite different from one another. Gomo reminds me a lot of Machinarium. The way the sack-dude player character finds items and sticks them inside his body through a zipper on his back is very much in line with the way the robot from Amanita’s game stows objects away inside his hollow tin-can body through his mouth. Gomo doesn’t have an extendable/retractable body like the robot, but his thread arms can stretch out in a similar way to reach things beyond his tiny frame. However, I will say that Gomo very much is a casual adventure, as the puzzles have straightforward solutions and the entire game flies by within two hours. The inventory is only three slots so rarely will you need to wrack your brain to figure out where to use an item, but what the puzzles lack in complexity they make up for with silliness. Case in point, there’s one puzzle early on that requires a pass code, which Gomo finds written on toilet paper as he’s unrolling it after pinching off a loaf in the bathroom. This is the type of adventure that’s more about taking in the world and enjoying every minute of adorable humor the game throws at you.

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Journey of a Roach is quite small too — the first playthrough should take around four hours, and for speed run masters there’s an achievement for beating the game in 18 minutes! — but it feels more like a full-blown adventure game. Puzzles get pretty darn tricky over the latter half of the game, sometimes almost too tricky as the logic behind some of the object combinations and the rigidity to the order in which certain solutions need to be reached will likely leave you scratching your head in a couple spots. There’s a particular vexing puzzle that involves connecting a line of electricity to a power box that seems to be notorious for stumping players, including yours truly.

The thing that stands out in Journey of a Roach is the completely three-dimensional exploration. You will need a mouse for pointing and clicking, but movement is under your direct control via the arrow keys like any 3D third-person game. In fact, gamepads are supported, and moving around with the analog sticks is even more effective–sadly item selection and inventory management isn’t so intuitive so overall mouse and keyboard is still the best option. What’s unique is the roach’s innate ability to crawl up walls and even onto ceilings, which flips your view of the environment around and forces your mindset to change when solving puzzles since certain items and pathways can only be reached from certain angles. Each environment must be approached with a slightly different thought process than what you might normally go through when examining a flat 2D background.

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Despite they’re diminutive stature, Gomo and Journey of a Roach are a pair of solid and wholly enjoyable adventure games, brimming with endearing, quirky characters and an infectiously playful spirit. Game length isn’t something I personally get hung up on (if a game’s good, I don’t care if it’s short), but if you’re frugal with your gaming dollar and factor length heavily into your purchasing decisions, these are admittedly brief games so you may feel more comfortable waiting for a sale before snatching them up. Then again, if you ask me both titles have just the right pacing and overall run time. If either of these games were extended for another couple of hours they would probably begin to drag. It’s also worth mentioning that they do offer some opportunity for replay. Gomo has a few hidden extras that I have not yet figured out how to unlock, while Journey of a Roach has these little caterpillar collectibles hidden throughout the game, as well as a number of achievements which will require multiple playthroughs to unlock.

Above all else, these are two fun, lighthearted tales that just make you want to smile, and they are without a doubt deserving of any adventure game fan’s attention.

Developed by Fishcow Studio, Gomo is available now on Steam, GOG.com, Desura and Gamersgate for $7.99.

Journey of a Roach from Koboldgames is currently available on Steam and Gamersgate for $14.99.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!