Milkmaid of the Milky Way is a rather charmingly delightful point and tap style adventure game. It might not be perfect, but it invokes plenty of memories of the classic adventure games of days gone by. Not bad for a game that offers a far from illustrious beginning.
That beginning has you playing Ruth, a young woman in 1920s Norway, with a fairly unremarkable life. Living alone on a remote farm, her days are full of milking cows and making dairy products out of the results. It’s hardly the stuff that great adventures are made out of, yet it’s still quite appealing.
Early on, that’s pretty much all you’re doing. Cows don’t milk themselves, so you find yourself doing the deed for them, before having a pesky problem with finding the correct handle for churning. Alongside that, you learn how to control things, as well as just how relatively genteel Milkmaid of the Milky Way’s pace is. To add to the charm, all the dialogue and in-game text is written in rhyme. Does it work? Not always, admittedly. Sometimes, it feels a little trite and unnecessary. Other times though, it adds to the charming nature that Milkmaid of the Milky Way is so keen to grab you with. It’s like a little cuddly blanket of cuteness.
It all sounds relatively uneventful so far, but Milkmaid of the Milky Way has a surprise up its sleeve: aliens. Yup, Ruth’s way of life is changed thanks to the arrival of an alien spaceship. It could be pretty threatening, but that’s ok, you’ve already acquired the skills necessary through your earlier puzzle solving abilities. More importantly, you can’t ‘fail’ here. The worst case scenario simply has you stuck with what to do next. It’s all based on your ability to figure things out, rather than your skill level or reactions.
And that’s one of the beauties behind Milkmaid of the Milky Way – its learning curve is pretty smooth and welcoming. I’ve no doubt someone new to the genre could get to grips with things quite well here. Simply tapping an object has you interact with it, while a double tap has you moving quickly to it. By doing so, it circumvents one of the big issues of old adventure games – sluggishness – while still maintaining the traditional charm. Old timers will be reminded of just how delightful pixel art can look, giving them gooey memories of Monkey Island et al.
Puzzles are frequently reasonably challenging but in a well pitched manner. You’ll feel smug about managing to complete them by yourself, but you won’t feel frustrated as you figure out the solution. It’s an ideal mix that ensures smooth sailing. In a similar vein, Milkmaid of the Milky Way offers the right story length too. It’ll take you a few hours to work your way from milk production to sci-fi goings on, keeping your interest in a way that’ll keep you smiling to the end.
It’s very early days in the year, but Milkmaid of the Milky Way still smacks of an adventure game that should be remembered come the end of year roundups. While it doesn’t bother trying to re-invent the wheel, it does an admirable job of sprucing up said old wheel with a 21st Century style twist or two. It’s an easy game to love.