Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if you were the size of an ant? Well, wonder no more as developers LoopyMood have come up with a point and click adventure, AntVentor, that’s going to provide the answer. This particular genre on Xbox is a fairly crowded one for AntVentor to arrive in however, and you have to ponder how it’ll stand out amongst the rest of the pack. The cheap price point in place is a good start, but it’ll surely take ingenious problem solving and an engrossing narrative to really shine here.
Unfortunately for AntVentor, the no-frills approach to the puzzling aspect and the offering of a minimalistic tale almost instantly cuts its chances of succeeding. The visuals and the comedic elements might just win you over though, so don’t write it off completely just yet.
AntVentor is the first chapter of a planned trilogy series that focuses on a rather intelligent ant named Florantine. He’s also a bit of a lazy git who hates doing the hard graft expected from a worker ant because of its monotony. This brainiac came up with an invention to perform the necessary workload while he dreams of venturing out of the nest and exploring the world. One day, the clever contraption breaks and needs a new component; the finding of which requires going on an adventure.
Aside from narration to set the scene, which is delivered eloquently, the story unfolds without words and relies on visuals to provide an idea of what’s happening. Beyond the story outlined above, there’s not much more depth to it, but it does at least possess some slapstick style humour to keep things ticking along for what remains of the relatively short experience. Whether it’s the awfully cute looking Florantine generally being clumsy, or the spider throwing shapes to a variety of tracks, there are a few chuckles to be had. If you’ve ever been curious as to what it sounds like when an ant breaks wind, then you’re in for a treat.
As for the gameplay, you’ll guide our inventive ant friend around the nest and beyond, picking up useful bits and bobs for the inventory along the way. There will be obstacles to overcome, which is where the items gathered become useful for progression. The solutions to the problems at hand are seldom straightforward however, with trial and error a go-to method to figure them out. In hindsight they make more sense, but using a stamp to distract a guard and then trapping the rather attentive ant in dirt, just isn’t intuitive. Fortunately there are obvious solutions too, such as acquiring the dirt with a spoon or combining a twig and some webbing to make a bow.
The inventory-based puzzles are a staple of point and click games, but these days you expect more. Yet AntVentor doesn’t have anything else to offer on that front. Even just a few mini-games here and there to avoid the experience becoming samey would be welcome, but there’s nothing like that. Nevertheless, there are clever ideas to appreciate in regards to the nifty inventions Florantine comes up with, so that’s something.
One thing you will notice, especially upon leaving the nest, are the photorealistic back-drops. Sure, it’s mainly greenery as the ant traverses up and down a tree, but it works really well having the cartoony character traipsing through the nice looking environments. And when you add in the other, often bigger and scarier, creatures, it helps to bring the macroworld alive. Despite the visuals being a real draw, the animated cutscenes do appear to suffer from stuttering – even with all the power of an Xbox Series X running it.
Given that AntVentor is merely the first act of an AntTrilogy, it does a decent-ish job at setting the scene, leaving you with slight interest as to what the future holds for Florantine. The problems have smart solutions – albeit too smart at times – and the mixture of visual styles blend together to create good environments to venture through. Its shortness in length, lasting only 90 minutes at most, is both a blessing and a curse; doesn’t drag on, yet feels just shy of being value for money at £5.79.
Is AntVentor worth a look from the Xbox Store? Well, if you enjoy the point and click inventory-related stuff, and have a silly sense of humour, then it may just be your cup of tea.