Machinarium

Machinarium cover art

Lemme start this review by introducing myself. I’m TakatoGuil and I suppose the fact that I’m posting here means I’m clearly Sachi’s best friend and not just a random internet buddy who got picked for my amazing writing skills. We so know each other in person because I remember punching that bully who was picking on him when we went to DC together. Or something. Look, I know what he looks like, okay?! [Sachi’s note: I don’t remember any bullies in DC. Who the hell are you and how did you get on this blog?]

Now, I suppose I have to do a review or something, so let’s talk about one of my favorite 2009 games: Machinarium. Released by Amanita Design, the makers of the fun, butA sample of Machinarium relatively underground, Samorost and its sequel, Machinarium is a fun point-and-click adventure game that has some of the better elements from the old classics.

You control a nameless robot [Sachi’s note: as far as the game goes. Apparently the robot is really named Josef, after the guy who made the world ‘robot’] who got kicked out of a decaying city named Machinarium and abandoned in the scrap yard a couple of miles out. Your introduction to the game (and the genre in general, if you’ve never played this sort of thing before) is a simple puzzle involving getting all of your limbs reattached. From there, you work your way back into the city to stop a terrorist plot and save your girlfriend, solving puzzles along the way.

Said puzzles are an interesting mix. Some are great fun, if relatively straightforward, others play on your natural instincts to do things in a certain way when your actual goal is to approach it from the completely opposite direction, and a few aren’t so much puzzles and call backs to classic games (including “Space Invaders”). The most important thing about all of them is not they’re fun, but that they’re all fair. There’s none of this “throw a boot at a rat in the beginning of the game or be unable to continue three hours later for no visible reason” or any feeling that Lewis Carroll on more laudanum than could ever be produced on planet Earth designed the puzzles.

The story of Machinarium is simple. My small summary is pretty much all there is; no sudden alien invasions, evil chancellors, or revelations that your character is a repressed homosexual. However, its method of expressing the story is quite unique. There is no dialogue except nonsense noises that the characters occasionally make and no text. Everything else is communicated in the thought balloons of the characters, which manages to give everyone a sense of character that would take quite a bit of time to achieve any other way.

The graphics, while not Crysis quality, are quite enjoyable. The backgrounds are hand-drawn, and the animations are crisp. While there is little else to say, I must note that if I was going to so low as to attach an actual number to this rating, the graphics alone wMore Machinariumould boost the rating up by about 2. The complete meaningless of this sentence is why I will never sully this blog with a numbered rating. [Sachi’s note: And yet, you’re going to make one anyway.] The Independent Games Festival clearly agrees with me, because Machinarium earned the “Excellence in Visual Arts” award last year.

The sound, meanwhile, is soothing and yet also quite driving. Most fits a “Muzak” feel, but the reward for completing one puzzle involves not only a way to solve other puzzles, but a nice jazz piece. I found myself returning to that screen on occasion just to listen to the music, rather than solving any puzzles. If you choose to buy this game directly from Amanita Design rather than from another client such as Steam, you will receive the soundtrack, which makes the game cost only one more penny. You heard me. The whole soundtrack with the game. And it only costs you one more penny. How many video games let you have their music to listen to whenever you want for only a PENNY?

The only flaw of note in the game that I found was the overall shortness, which is perhaps why this review is not particularly long either. The game can’t take more than a few hours to play, but the style is so captivating that you’ll be desperate for more. To the best of my knowledge, no sequel is planned, but Samorost is free to play online, and Amanita Design continues to release fun games, so that’s at least something. This game is a must-have for any adventure/art game fans, and is a nice addition to the library of just about anyone else, and therefore I feel quite justified in giving this game a 9.5/10. Free demos are available on Steam and Machinarium’s official website, found here.

final pic

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