Review – Creaks
The Czech indie developer, Amantia Design, is at it again. They’re mostly known for their known for their point-and-click adventure games like the Samorost series, Botanicula, and Machinarium. However, I first fell in love with their off-beat style when I first played their interactive animation, Chuchel. They’re breaking their mold with Creaks, by attempting a 2D puzzle platformer. Is their style enough to set them apart in a well-worn genre or will this be another indie platformer to slip through the cracks?
Your journey begins with your unnamed protagonist trying to fix his dying light bulb. Once it bites the dust, he feels a great jolt throughout his ramshackle apartment and notices the wallpaper has torn away from one of the walls. Upon further investigation, he spies a small door previously hidden behind it. Much like Alice following the white rabbit, he enters the door and descends into a world he never knew existed.
This is the extent of the story you’re given for a good portion of the game. Little snippets of insight into this strange realm are presented to you along the way, but this isn’t a game that revolves solely around some deep and profound narrative. About two thirds of the way through the game, more becomes clear as to what’s going on in this peculiar place, but that’s still not the true driving force of Creaks. It’s more about navigating your way through this strange and dark new world beneath your very walls. In that aspect it reminds me a bit of Limbo or Inside.
The art style is the very first thing that will grab you in Creaks. It features a hand-drawn art style, very similar to Machinarium. Each level feels claustrophobic, which is further amplified by the brilliant sound design, relying mainly on creaking wood sound effects and the mechanical sounds of the robotic foes. It almost makes me think of what would happen if Alice didn’t fall into Wonderland, but into an Edward Gorey book instead.
This is a 2D puzzle platforming game, that provides minimal instruction, but still feels very organic. You’ll be primarily moving up and down ladders and corridors while trying to avoid a wide array of robots. Yes, I know how crazy that sounds, but it absolutely works for this game.
Mainly taking place in dark, dilapidated halls and crawlspaces, you’ll soon discover that light is your best weapon against these mysterious otherworldly beings. Light switches, pressure plates, and moveable barriers will become the staple for finding solutions past your obstacles. That also brings me to my one issue with Creaks: there’s not much more in the way of puzzle variety than these main implements. They’re laid out in differing degrees to provide just enough variation to keep you moving, but it does start to feel a little repetitive after a while.
There is one element that changes things up a bit, and that’s in the form of old paintings hidden within the labyrinthine corridors. These are optional to collect and don’t really affect the story, but they’re a fun collectable to seek out nonetheless. Usually tucked away behind harder to reach pathways, they’re more of a fun collectable for completionists than a required acquisition.
Creaks is a game that doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre, but it will still captivate you regardless. Taking around five hours to complete, it’s just long enough to deliver a satisfying experience without overstaying its welcome. I do wish there was a little more in the way of puzzle variety, but overall it’s well worth the journey. Its striking art style, logical puzzles, and unique atmosphere prove that Amanita Design can make more than just point-and-click adventures.
The had drawn art style has a dark, quirky charm like that found in Machinarium.
A well crafted puzzle platformer with a tone all its own. You’ll have to find ways to lure enemies into traps and use the environment to your advantage.
The subdued soundtrack is both ominous and whimsical. The sound effects are excellent, especially the creaking wood.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Creaks is all around a solid puzzle platformer that uses a few key ideas in a number of different ways. My one gripe is there’s just not quite enough variety in its obstacles.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Creaks is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Creaks was provided by the publisher.