‘Pilgrims’ Review

Amanita Design, the game development team behind Machinarium and the Samorost series, have always been producers of non-traditional adventure games. To quickly summarize them, one might say they are known for following their own rules when making the weird point and click adventures we all keep falling in love with. The latest game released by the team, Pilgrims, seems to be another great entry in their library.

One of the self-imposed rules all the games released by the team so far is that there can be no comprehensible dialog, spoken or written. This means Pilgrims must establish player objectives and tools without telling us what they are. Unlike most non-verbal games, which would use camera angles and other visual cues to give players an idea of what to do, Pilgrims keeps things pretty open to interpretation. The most direct the game gets is when speech bubbles containing an item appear, to indicate something a character currently has or wants. How to get the item, or even if it’s worth getting, is up to the player.

In practice, Pilgrims can be completed in less than fifteen minutes. But with all the different ways players can reach the ending, this calculates to a game of a decent length. It was pretty fun thinking of different ways to be creative to reach the goals that I was setting for myself by assuming what the game wanted me to do. Unfortunately, with this wide openness there comes a lot of potential for wasted time. I think the most perfect example of what I loved and disliked about Pilgrims comes from a helluva story about my first playthrough.

To make a long story short, I ended up helping a Devil kidnap a Priest and sent them both to the underworld. But this didn’t affect my main objective at all, from what I could tell. A completely unnecessary condemnation, an arbitrary arbitration of a man’s soul. The funny thing is it was all done by me just combining random characters and inventory items, all up to the point where the priest is tied up and being carried away by the demon. I had very little idea what would happen at first, and as I was more successful and it all dawned on me, my opinion on the game cemented.

Pilgrims was a pretty fun game. It doesn’t do as much with its animation as the team’s previous game, Chuchel, but everything came together much stronger. Games like these that are so dang close to perfect make me feel very positive for the future of adventure games.

Played on Apple Arcade.

Follow me on Twitter! 

‘Lego Builder’s Journey’ Review

Lego games are known for being quick to jump into with lots of replayability and a wide range of characters. Lego Builder’s Journey does none of this – offering an emotional journey of puzzle solving and tight visuals to contrast the typical Lego game style. The game is simple – each level presents itself as a diorama, and we must place Lego bricks in the correct place in the right order. Sometimes this means building something cool; in one level we are in the basement of a house and must disassemble furniture and electronics to create a little robot friend. More often though, players are tasked with constructing bridges or walkways for characters to move forwards.

Controlling the game can become frustrating, especially with any of the levels that required precise timing. To move and place blocks, we tap the object, then drag it, then hold a decently long press over the spot we want it to go. I feel like this system needs refinement. If the hold was slightly less long, and dropped bricks would pick up quicker and smoother, the game would vastly improve.

Another complaint I have, while admittedly mild, is I wish the main menu system worked better. As of writing, the level select screen is painfully devoid of information. We see a picture of each level and can scroll through all the completed ones, but there is no way to know anything about the level. Something as simple as a number to match each level would make things so less frustrating when trying to compare levels and the game’s overall length.

Lego Builder’s Journey does an admirable job flipping the Lego franchise on its head to give us a minimalist but satisfying puzzle game. While I doubt that I would ever play through this again after finishing it, I did enjoy the music enough that I could see myself playing the soundtrack some time. I am certainly recommending this one, especially with the hope that the touch controls will be improved sometime soon.

Lego Builder’s Journey is available on Apple Arcade for iOS.

Tell me about YOUR indie game! Give me a shout on Twitter!