Samorost: A Gentle Delight
It's come to my attention that there are still some of you out there who haven't heard of Samorost, one of the prettiest delights I've ever come across in surfing the web. Samorost is a sometimes surreal, sometimes cute, always beautiful little puzzle/story told via interactive Flash movies using photographs of tree boles, moss, driftwood, rusty old metal parts, and delightful animated figures. Produced by Czech firm Amanita Design, this gentle tale begins with our plucky little hero discovering, to his horror, that his beautifully spaceworthy piece of driftwood is fatally threatened by collision with a second, oddly very birdlike, driftwood world. He quickly flies over to the approaching threat in his rusty drink-can shuttle pod to see if he can prevent the imminent disaster, and that's where you come in, helping him make his way through one strange, quiet adventure after another.
The gameplay of Samorost is clever, but not too difficult, and fun for players of all ages. Make sure, though, that you're playing on a computer with a sound card; the music and sound design for Samorost is so wonderful and so well integrated into the rest of the experience that it'd be a great shame to miss it.
After you've finished off Samorost, you can take heart; all is not over: Samorost 2 has been published now, and it's twice as long as the original while retaining all of its beauty, humor, and fun. Fair warning, though: Samorost 2 comes in two chapters, only the first of which is free; you'll need to buy the "full version" of the game for playing locally on your Windows or Mac computer to access the second chapter; it's only $9.50, though, and these folks certainly deserve that much for the magic they've given us already.
Finally, after you've made your way through all of the Samorost saga, head on over to the main Amanita Design website where you can sample their other animations and Flash games, the best of which is "The Polyphonic Spree - The Quest for the Rest", a Samorost-like experience celebrating and accompanied by the music of the Dallas symphonic pop band The Polyphonic Spree.
As you can tell, I really love this kind of quiet, beautiful puzzle exploration. If you know of more such, please add a comment telling all of us about it!