By Alec Meer on November 26th, 2009 at 12:04 am.
This is very lovely, in a vaguely malevolent way. It’s a narrative puzzle game of minimal dialogue and hand-painted graphics, a little in the vein of Samorost. Hansel is an idle, blinkered boy-child, and Gretel his industrious, concerned sister. She feels it’s imperative to escape their angry, abusive mother (and subjugated father), and thus puzzling begins. The puzzles are simple but thoughtful, and as a more visceral bonus, usually involve whacking something with your catapult at some stage. The look’s what really makes it, though – cutout, waterpainted shapes moving in pseudo-stop motion, evoking vintage Eastern European animation.
It’s very brief (took me around 20 minutes), but as an adjunct to completing the puzzle, there are 10 optional death scenes to find (don’t worry, you don’t lose any progress by dying), which are surprisingly vicious, given the fairy tale atmosphere. But then again, it’s fairy tales as the brothers Grimm first intended them – dark to the point of sadism.
The first part of three, apparently – just as well, as its narrative seems to throw logic and coherence to the wind otherwise. If you’re struggling with it, there’s a video walkthough below. And be warned that the flowers on the well bit is far more annoying than it looks.