The point-and-click adventure genre can prove to be a little dense for newcomers. Long passages of dialogue and obtuse puzzles can bog down even the best games in the genre, but thankfully, Milkmaid of the Milky Way, a whimsical point-and-click adventure title by Machineboy, keeps things simple, earnest, and quick-moving. While it isn’t a lengthy experience, or even an exceptionally deep one, its childlike whimsy and charming visuals are enough to make the game a must-play, even for a newcomer to the genre.
The player controls Ruth the milkmaid, who lives in an isolated area of Western Norway in the year 1929. Her home – Calf Ledge – is drawn beautifully, and comes to represent Ruth’s own attachment to her upbringing. Her dairy buyers have become less interested in her wares in recent days, as modern consumers make the capitalistic shift to low-quality butter and cream, but Ruth is stubborn, refusing to change her ways for anyone. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that change is coming to Ruth’s life, and she’ll have to face it, whether she likes it or not.
Machineboy’s sound design and art direction steal the show, adding a magical touch to a solid story. Every sprite bursts with personality and imagination, the music is varied and understated, and the backgrounds are imaginative and colorful.
Ruth walks toward where the player taps, and runs if the player double-taps. As in most point-and-click games, there’s an easily-accessible inventory of items at the bottom of the screen, which are collected as the game progresses, and can be used to solve puzzles and unlock areas. Only once or twice did I find myself frustrated with the gameplay, as certain items and interactive objects were not easily differentiated from the background, and as such – especially in the case of a puzzle later in the game involving a metal pipe – it was sometimes difficult to tell which objects were puzzle-related, and which were not. However, the majority of the puzzles in Milkmaid of the Milky Way are quite intuitive, and the game’s progression is quick-paced, offering 2-3 hours of play, depending on how proficient the player might be at puzzle games.
Milkmaid of the Milky Way is clearly a labor of love. Ruth’s story is earnest and whimsical, and the entire game is wrapped up beautifully with detailed pixel art, heartwarming animations and atmospheric music. Any minor frustrations with occasionally counter-intuitive puzzle design are negated by the well-paced story and reasonable play time, making this $5.49 purchase an easy recommendation for fans of the point-and-click adventure genre.