Milkmaid of the Milky Way, in brief terms, is a simplistic and modernized throwback to classic point-and-click adventure games.
It is a product of passion of sole developer Mattis Folkestad who single-handedly tackled all aspects of the project such as the writing, music, art, and design. When one man overtakes the development of an entire indie title himself, it feels less like creating a product and more like a labor of love. From the handcrafted pixel art to the ambient and serene compositions, everything felt like it was dear to the creator. Folkestad treated this project personally, and it is definitely reflected in the light-heartedness and sentimental awe of his game.
In many adventure games such as this, everything else usually takes a backseat to the writing; this is no exception. The setting is a rural mountainside farm located in the country of Norway, the home country of the developer. The tale begins with the quaint humbleness of the countryside and then suddenly takes a dive into the realm of sci-fi. Between the extremes of simple farm life and the imminent extinction of an extraterrestrial race is a gaping contrast, but they end up seamlessly complementing each other. Characters are also pretty quirky and fun to interact with. Throughout a playthrough, you are offered dialogue choices that don’t necessarily have much of an impact but still add an interesting flair to conversations. Such a subtle feature adds more life to the characters and makes navigating the plot feel less on-rails.
Furthermore, one distinct thing that Milkmaid of the Milky Way does to set itself apart is how it delivers its narrative and dialogue.
Everything is done in various rhyme schemes which surprisingly makes the reading quite enjoyable. Though the rhymes would seem a little forced at times, it's generally well executed and makes the game feel reminiscent of a children’s storybook. Nonetheless, it isn’t afraid to take on more serious and mature themes.
Overall, the story is straightforward and somewhat predictable, but still has charm in its playful innocence. Additionally, the characters are likeable but not heavily developed. There is also this constant tease of a more fleshed out world and lore which is never really fulfilled.
Despite these minor flaws, the story has grace in its simplicity; everything is relaxing and easy to take in because it is neat and uncomplicated.
As mentioned earlier, the writing is what often takes the stage in this genre of games, but visuals and audio are still important. In this case, the art and music do a good job with supplementing the plot. The retro pixel art is intricate and makes for some beautiful imagery. There are also many cinematic scenes that surpassed my expectations for this specific style of indie gaming.
Pixel art is classic but over-used; in this instance, there are enough detail and aesthetic harmony that it feels refreshing. The music doesn't particularly stand out, but it's atmospheric and creates both peaceful and intense atmosphere.
Lastly, the interface and controls are everything you’d expect from your standard classic adventure game.
It’s all simple to navigate, easy to control, and not at all hard to understand. The setting and menu features are also basic and well implemented. Moreover, the puzzle mechanics are easy to understand while the difficulty moderately challenges you so that it engages without holding your hand. The problems aren’t so easy they don’t feel rewarding to solve, but not so frustratingly hard and nonsensical that it discourages you from completing your adventure. Good design such as this is often not hard to accomplish but goes a long way when the developer recognizes the need for it; as a matter of fact, that's how you streamline access to the core of your content.
Milkmaid of the Milky Way makes its impression as a passion project that had solid foundations but leaves a little more to desire. It hits all the right notes in every way, but leaves room for expansion. Much has untapped potential that, I suspect, isn't matched with the developer’s funds and assets. Even though the game is short, you feel engaged and immersed the entire way. It’s also a title that could appeal to anyone, even gamers who aren't accustomed to classic point-and-click games. Overall, the inexpensive Milkmaid of the Milky Way is worth checking out. Appreciate the heart and personalization that went into making it so concisely wonderful.