Barmark ($2.99) by Stormhatt Studios is a zen-like point-and-click adventure where you are in complete control of the environment. If you’ve been in need of a game that helps you fully unwind and reach harmony, then Barmark is worth checking out. Think of it as your own unique zen garden in the palm of your hand.
I love video games — I play them whenever I have some spare time. I’ll admit though, sometimes they end up frustrating me, and I need a different way to calm myself down. What better way to relax after a frustrating game than with … another game? Not all of them are equal though, and fortunately, Barmark is one of those games.
Visually, Barmark is stunning. The artwork in the game is gorgeous, and gives off a kind of watercolor painting vibe. The colors are rich and vibrant, and the developers have put an incredible amount of detail in the various scenes, including fine textures. As you use machines, the environment of your world will change, and it’s nice to see everything just come together. Animations in the game are smooth, though I thought the movement was a bit slow and clunky, but I can live with it. The whimsical music is tranquil and fits the calming nature of the game perfectly.
Barmark is different from most point-and-click games because of the fact that there is no story, no goals, no death, and no points. So what is the point of the game? Pretty simple: alter the game environment so you achieve peace and euphoria. The experience of Barmark is all up to how you want it to be.
When you start a new “game” in Barmark, you get five landscapes out of eight, and these will always be randomly chosen when you start a new game. The selection will also determine the chosen Archanimals that will inhabit your Barmark, and these creatures want your help to turn on and activate various machines that are found in the environment. These machines will alter not just the landscape it is found in, but the other four as well, so once they’re all activated, the world looks very different from how they first started out. Additionally, you can even plant flowers to make the game world feel more like your own.
The controls in the game are pretty simple, as you just point to where you want to move to, and tap on animals and levers to interact with them. Double tapping lets you plant a flower on the ground. If you tap on the Barmark symbol in the top left corner, you end the journey and access the game’s menu. I’m not a fan of how this is set up though, because it doesn’t seem to allow you to pause and resume the world you were just on. So if you access the menu to see the manual for a second, then you’ll have to start a new game instead of going back to the world you were working on. I would like to see a way to return to the game without losing your progress implemented in the future.
I will admit that at first I didn’t really “get” Barmark. However, as I spent some time in the first world, I became captivated once I saw the results of activating the machines. I wanted to see what the other ones did, so I revisited each landscape to see how different it became. Even though it was a lot of going back and forth (movement should be faster), it was rather relaxing and I didn’t mind, especially since I can interact with the animals as I walked. Plus, the game has a beautiful visual style that is fun to explore.
I highly recommend checking out Barmark if you want something to unwind with after a long day, or want a break from stress-inducing video games. Barmark is on the App Store as a universal download for $2.99.