There's a fine line between adorable and creepy, as anyone who's played an adventure game by Amanita Design such as Machinarium or Samorost can attest. Channeling that same surreal and beautiful vibe is Growbot, a new point-and-click puzzle adventure from developer Wabisabi Play and Application Systems Heidelberg.
In Growbot you're a new arrival on a biomechanical space station, but the moment you arrive you find the place under siege from a mysterious enemy. The other space robots are disabled so you start puttering around, collecting items, solving puzzles, and try to untangle the threat before the space station is destroyed.
I'm about 3.5 hours into Growbot, and while the experience is extremely charming and the world it takes place in is beautiful and fascinating, I still have very little idea what's actually going on. There are cute little elf-like sprites you can carry around (at one point I crammed one into a tiny little truck so it would scoop up space berries). There's a big friendly Yeti (technically not a Yeti but it's Yeti-like) who loves jam and tea and somehow has an entire galaxy in its belly. There are clockwork bees, meditating cats, a psychic octopus who thinks it's a squid, and a talking pink puffball I carry around in my head. And somehow this adventure is all about powering up a space station forcefield that runs on flowers.
Some of the puzzles are really fun to solve—on several occasions you'll run into a shield barrier that emits a different series of musical notes. You'll need to create a key to unlock it by arranging musical notes you collect by finding various flowers around the station. Crafting a singing key using musical plants? That's a really nice way to solve a puzzle and much better than simply finding my billionth iron key in a drawer or on a desk.
A few of the other puzzles are more traditional, and some are a bit confusing. I admit there are one or two I solved not by figuring out exactly what to do, but by simply doing things until I stumbled over the solution. Maybe it's not the best way to solve a puzzle, but I prefer an accidental solution to being stuck to the point of frustration.
The art, animation, and sound design of Growbot are all wonderful, and more than once I've lost track of time while exploring the colorful biopunk space station. I may not know quite what's going on or how this beautiful and surreal world really works, but I sure am enjoying being in it.