Developer: Amanita Design
Size: 763 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Update! There have been seven updates since CHUCHEL’s launch in late 2018, but none of them appear to have added anything major to the game. Has the original ‘comedy adventure game’ concept aged well?
How does it play today? While there have been no major additions to CHUCHEL, it’s still an Amanita game, which means it still looks and plays like nothing else. Its whimsical set pieces and super-slight puzzling continue to resemble an interactive kid’s TV show, and the whole thing is more fun to watch than it is to play. But it remains a lovely and calming way to spend an hour or two.
Revised rating: Retains its whimsical, undemanding charm. ★★★★
Our original review, written in November 2018, is presented in its entirety below.
Two daft characters bickering over a cherry might not sound like the most thrilling premise for a game. But when the developer behind that concept is Amanita Design, all preconceptions go out of the window.
Well, not ALL preconceptions. We expect the maker of Botanicula, Samorost, and Machinarium to provide a distinctively bizarre art style, exquisite animation, and wordless point and click puzzle mechanics.
That’s exactly what we receive in CHUCHEL, though the tone is even lighter and more frivolous than those previous games. You play the part of a little fuzzball who finds themself in competition – and occasionally begrudging cooperation – with a cheeky rat-like creature as they both seek to chow down on a giant cherry.
There’s a large cast of curious creatures standing in your way, not to mention a capricious sky god who delights in snatching your hard-earned victories away from you.
In practical terms, CHUCHEL plays out as a series of simple, largely single-screen set pieces. Your goal is to initiate the appropriate chain of actions to get our hungry hero to their tasty prize.
The nature of those actions is as varied and unpredictable as you can imagine. Tapping to interact with characters and items almost never yields the results you might expect, but you can be sure the outcome will involve a large dose of surrealist slapstick.
However, this also means that there’s little in the way of satisfying logic to these puzzles. It’s all about poking the screen, often at random, and seeing what happens.
Unpredictability is good in games, of course, but in this context, it occasionally leaves CHUCHEL feeling more like an interactive cartoon than a game.
It’s a supremely executed interactive cartoon, though. The skill and love that’s gone into conceiving this world and drawing and animating these characters is plain to see. There’s nothing else quite like an Amanita game.
Much of the time it’s the sheer ingenuity and humor of the concept that wins you through. One section sees you negotiating with a snail, who welcomes you into their “house” to play brief but loving tributes to some video game classics. None of these minigame-like sections plays brilliantly, but simply witnessing Amanita’s twisted takes on Pac-Man, Tetris, and Space Invaders is a delight.
When it comes to putting a smile on your face and a sense of calm in your heart, there are few games as well suited to the task as CHUCHEL. Yes, it’s a little too random and lightweight to be truly satisfying to puzzler fans, but its warm-hearted charm and playful sense of exploration run much deeper than its mechanics.