Approaching a title like Grotto means letting yourself be transported to a distant time, where diviners and ancestral tribes shared a fertile and primeval land. Between stars, bones and the trajectories of reason, we have completed the mystical journey and we are ready to have our say in this one review of Grotto.
Betting everything on narration
The events of Grotto put us in the shoes of a fortune teller who lives in a cave near a village. Our task is to advise the inhabitants of the latter, the Brutes, a primitive and warlike tribe. Through our choices, represented by the constellations that we think are best suited to the situation, we will influence the course of events concerning this people and its evolution over time.
On paper, the possible branches are several, but the fact that often the characters carry out a process of interpretation (since we limit ourselves to handing them a symbol, without saying a word), often pushes in specific and irreversible directions, giving the player a minimal control over the progress of events. It must also be said, however, that the intent of the developers (the small team of Brainwash Gang) seems to be to tell a story of misunderstandings, full of induced and suggested decisions. Which doesn’t push us to be too critical of overly forced plot twists, while not totally justifying them.
In general, the story told is interesting, even if it is difficult to empathize with the various characters presented, either for one all too conventional characterization, either because of the little space given to each, insufficient for a convincing development. The game, in fact, lasts just over four hours.
We would like to be able to say that the replay value is high due to the different ramifications of the narrative. However, at least as far as we are concerned, once we have reached the end of our game, there is no push that justifies replaying the title several times to see how the story could have evolved differently.
A crossroads of languages
We must specify that the game is completely in English. So, since it is an adventure that focuses entirely on storytelling, we advise you to approach it only if you have a good command of the language. Also because the one used is not a scholastic English, but rather a mixture of dialects and variants, ranging from the Shakespearean tradition to the descent of the American south-east.
It is an interesting way to differentiate the origin of the characters, but often it is out of place, more suitable for a game like The Wolf Among Us than for a title that does not actually have precise temporal references, but still immersed in a decidedly primordial atmosphere, where the American (but also the British) jargon contemporary screeches. It seems a choice linked more to the potential appreciation of the title by a wider and more varied audience than an actual decision related to the world that the team intended to bring to the screen.
PC System Requirements
- Operating system: Windows 11
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
- Memory: 16 GB in RAM
- Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
- Operating system: Windows 7 or later
- Processor: i3 or later
- Video card: NVIDIA GT 630 / 650m, AMD Radeon HD6570 or equivalent
A contained gameplay
In terms of gameplay, Grotto offers little and nothing for those who approach it with the intent of finding particularly complex action or interactions. The game, in first person, is entirely set in the shaman’s cave; it is not possible to go beyond the confines of the latter.
Every day, some characters will come to visit us in search of answers at first of little importance, but then more and more demanding, linked to the territory of morality. Our job is to look at the stars from a large hole in the rock and build meaningful constellations (connecting the dots in full “puzzle week” style). As you progress through the adventure, other objects are unlocked that can help us in our decisions which, however, are not absolutely essential for the purpose of completing the adventure, how much more of the cute “embellishments”, but actually only for the outline.
Once we have chosen the constellation that we consider most suitable, we must “hand it over” to the interlocutor, who will deduce what he deems most appropriate. Once you have listened to all the characters, you have to lie down in the tent and wait for the next day, during which the same process will be repeated.
This is what you can expect from Grotto on a purely playful level. For a narrative adventure, it’s not too meager as a proposition either. However, the problem arises when a mechanic like that of the discovery of the constellations it is all too often given by chance. In fact, it is enough to unite all the stars and then delete their connections one by one to discover new combinations, which will be automatically saved on the wall behind us, from which we can quickly draw, without having to go again to consult the celestial star. So, ultimately, even the main mechanics of the title (just like the choices forced by the narrative) is an end in itself, deprived of real importance and relegated to mechanical use only.
The fascination of the audiovisual
The real heart of Grotto undoubtedly lies in the audiovisual sector. With a shrewd and isolated use of color, which stands out against a completely black environment, the three-dimensional space created in cel-shading and the two-dimensional characters with a decidedly inspired cartoon style create an extremely suggestive overall scene, capable of capturing much more than the story. narrated. This is also thanks to a truly excellent sound sector, punctuated by a hypnotic soundtrack and from an ingenious use of percussion with a primordial flavor that replace the lines of dialogue.
Precisely in these small details (such as the clear reflections of the cave in the puddles on the ground) Grotto finds its expressive force. But we are well aware that a single element is not capable of reviving a project that is limping on several fronts, even though its objectives and related results are not excessively broad and branched on several fronts.
Tested version PC Windows
Grotto is not an adventure for everyone. It is more a visual experience than a video game, as images and sounds tell more than actions and words. So, we have a title on the one hand spectacular on an artistic level and, on the other, castrated on a videogame level. It is the living representation of the dilemma that afflicts this medium: which aspect should be given more weight? The answer is different for each of us. There are those who will give more importance to the technical side, those to the artistic one and those to the playful one. In this case, we do not feel like rejecting a project like Grotto, but neither do we want to praise it. It is one of those titles to which we will one day look with affection, reminding us more of its general atmosphere than its single flaw.
- Visually very neat
- Excellent sound sector
- Minimal gameplay elements
- Often insignificant moral choices
- Narratively unconvincing