You will never meet a more relatable ant than Florantine in AntVentor. He has a mundane job, his life is fairly dull, and he’s easily annoyed by stupidity. But above everything else, this small inventor ant longs for adventure. Sounds a lot like pretty much everyone I know.
AntVentor, the first chapter in its AntTrilogy, is an endearing point and click adventure game. It begins when the player finds Florantine sleeping next to a machine he built to sift dirt for him, and essentially make life a lot easier for himself. Upon closer investigation of the machine the player accidentally breaks it, which really upsets Florantine, to say the least. Now it’s up to you to fix it. Find items, invent new tools, and solve puzzles to help him rebuild his invention and assist him on his path to fulfilling his dream of traveling the world. Along the way you’ll encounter large threatening creatures and adorable tiny insects with big personalities.
AntVentor was built from the ground up by LoopyMood, a four person team (five if you include their pug Sherlock), located in the Ukraine. The game has a visually stunning mix of animation and photography to create its realistic macroworld. To achieve the look the team traveled to Thailand to take photos of the locations used in the game. Nadine Moody, game designer and co-founder of LoopyMood, said she was inspired by the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and wanted to give players a chance to experience the macroworld for themselves.
The graphics are so well done in fact it can almost be to a detriment to the gameplay at times. Often it can be difficult to find the items you need to collect because they are so perfectly blended into the setting. Luckily, if players are stuck they can click on Florantine to generate a hint for what to do next. Sometimes the hints can be vague but if you pay close enough attention you’ll be able to decipher what the game is asking you to do. When exploring areas the cursor will change to let you know if you can pick an item up, as well as signify a course of direction. Some areas are not obvious to climb so be sure to move your cursor around to signal a new direction to investigate. The team has plans to make it easier in Chapter Two for players to locate items. In the meantime, their new mobile release this month will include an updated object light up signifier.
Outside of some yelps and grunts, Florantine doesn’t communicate with words. However players will never have to wonder how he’s feeling because the developers equipped him with 57 different emotions to express exactly what his mood is. When he’s scared his eyes will grow wide, when he’s thinking he’ll look around with his hand under his chin, when he accidentally farts his mouth will gasp open with embarrassment. And when you try to invent items but combine the wrong pieces together Florantine will be sure to express how much of an idiot you are with a heavy sigh and serious side eye.
The soundtrack has a sarcastic jazz feel about it, perfectly setting the tone for the game. I also appreciated the playlist on the iPod Shuffle that Florantine comes across, even if he didn’t seem amused by it. (Though I gather it takes a lot to get Florantine to be amused about much since you broke his machine and all). The sound effects also help to shape the environment, making it feel as though the space you are occupying is much bigger than just an ant hole.
There were moments I laughed, there were moments I cooed, there were moments where I felt a sense of pride for solving a puzzle… But what I really enjoyed was that the game never takes itself too seriously. Each character has their own quirk and the puzzles themselves can be silly. Nadine said what she hopes players take away from the game is to, “Always follow your dream. Break the rules. Escape the system.”
AntVentor is LoopyMood’s first game to be released and it took two and a half years to complete. When I tested it at PAX East this year I was eager for its release and it was well worth the wait. Currently there are plans for two more chapters in the AntTriology. With the experience of the first game under their belt I’m told the next chapter won’t take as long to make. It will feature even more story, new characters, and will take you on an incredible journey.
AntVentor is currently available on Steam, Humble Bundle, Linux, Mac and PC with a DLC that includes an Art Book and Soundtrack. AntVentor will also be releasing on mobile and tablet this September.
Check out the trailer below: