If Salvador Dalí and Terry Gilliam collaborated on a videogame remake of the bits from Ice Age where that squirrel repeatedly tries to get hold of an elusive acorn, you might end up with something like Chuchel. The acorn, in this case, is a cherry. The role of the agitated squirrel who is repeatedly foiled in his attempts to get his desired treasure to comedic effect is played by a small furry creature called Chuchel.
Chuchel finds himself being tortured by a giant hand that reaches down out of the sky to pick him up and put him and his beloved cherry in situations where the two of them are kept apart by some obstacle. Here is where you come in. Sometimes you’ll have to solve a simple puzzle to get to the cherry, sometimes you need do nothing more than click on whatever is in front of you to make something strange or funny happen, and sometimes you’ll find yourself playing a minigame.
Save for Chuchel’s occasional rivalry and sometimes collaboration with another cherry-loving creature named Kekel, there isn’t any connective tissue of substance between each of the game’s scenarios. Instead, Chuchel is presented as a series of vignettes. Each is a bespoke clickable toy for you to play with. A delightful digital construction that will have you revelling in the artistry of its animation and the skill with which its soundtrack is interwoven with the action taking place on the screen. This isn’t a game about the complexity of its interactions – a signpost will soon pop up to give you the option of seeing the solution to a puzzle if you struggle for even a short time – but rather about enjoying seeing it in motion. Indeed, despite its obvious silliness, we were struck by the sheer beauty of the thing in almost every scene it presented us.
The world of Chuchel is a pleasurably surreal one to play in. It is full of bizarre creatures and frequently takes unexpected turns, usually in pursuit of comedy. It is not laugh-out-loud funny, but there is something undeniably likable about its lighthearted nature and it’s always fun to watch its quirky titular character lose its rag with almost every creature it encounters.
We can imagine this game’s short length and relative lack of complexity leaving those expecting a more traditional point-and-click in the vain of Amanita Design’s previous titles, Machinarium, or even Botanicula (with which Chuchel shares more in common), feeling disappointed. However, we would argue there is something of value to be found precisely in Chuchel’s defying of expectations. You won’t find a lot of games out there like this little curio, nor many made with the level of craft possessed by the incredibly talented team that made it.
7/10 VERDICT a short, simple showcase of artistic talent
above: Chuchel is an angry little thing and the frustration and escalating rage he experiences is communicated brilliantly without any need for words. His cries of anguish and the game’s amazing animation tell you all you need to know.
above: Scenarios in Chuchel are as simple and nonsensical as this: there’s the cherry in a pool of water that’s in the head of weird yellow creature, now you click on some stuff until Chuchel and Kekel find a way to get to it.