PC Review: Machinarium

So, I have this huge soft spot for innovative games or ones that look really unique. Machinarium was gifted to me over Steam (thanks Dan!) and I had no idea what it was. I looked it up and found out it was a point-and-click adventure game and I love that genre, so I gave Machinarium a try.

In the first few seconds of the game I was absolutely blown away by the design of the game. The design and detail. Sure it’s a flat 2D cartoon style which you don’t see often anymore, but the illustration of this game is absolutely crazy detailed, immersive and straight away you’re drawn into this peculiar little steam-punkish universe. The music for the game is also really unique and really fits in with the world of Machinarium. When developers nail the overall design of a game you can appreciate it just that much more because you’re seeing and feeling exactly what they were trying to get you see and feel. Good on you Amanita Design!

Anyway moving on from my design praise, you control a little robot named Josef on his quest into a big city. At first you don’t understand why, but the plot slowly unravels itself as you progress. Another amazing thing with this game is that there is no dialogue. There are speech bubbles with animations which act out what is being ‘said’ with little character sound effects. It’s through these speech bubbles and thought bubble animations that parts of the story are told. If you idle in certain areas, sometimes Josef drifts into thought and remembers things from his past which explores the plot a little more.

The game play is simple, all you need is a mouse and your brain. You use your cursor to point and click where you want Josef to go and what you want him to interact with. Each area or ‘stage’ has a puzzle which you need to solve to advance to the next area. You have an inventory for collecting items and sometimes these items combine to create a new item which you can use in a new way, for example you find a cord and a hook, then you combine the two items to create a simple fishing line get something that’s out of reach. If you’re unable to access an area or you’re doing something wrong, Josef will let you know by shaking his head and uttering something akin to ‘nuuu!’.

If you’ve played point-and-click adventure games before, you’ll know that sometimes you just get stuck. Maybe you’re missing an item, or you know what you have to do but you just don’t know how to get there. Have no fear, there is a hint button! Click the question mark at the top and Josef will give you a hint as to what must be done. These hints get more and more vague as you advance though.

If that simple hint doesn’t do it for you, then you can just use the in-game walkthrough for that stage. Wait, what? I actually found it by accident, but I love the idea of how you access the walkthrough in Machinarium! There is a little icon in the game that looks like a locked book in the corner. You click on it to start a little mini game in which you’re a key which has to dodge obstacles to get to the end goal which is a lock. This is how you unlock the book which houses a step-by-step comic of how to solve the stages’ puzzle. ┬áIt might just be me, but I just found Machinarium’s hint system so mind-blowingly cool, plus you feel a little less guilty for looking at the walkthrough – you worked for it!

I do have a couple of gripes with game, although they are pretty minor. The environments and stages are all really detailed and really well illustrated, but sometimes this is actually a problem. There are so many things in the stage that you think you can interact with, but you can’t, and parts that you think are just background are actually things you need to advance. I had stalled for so long on some stages that when I found the way to solve the puzzles I was practically face-palming at how obvious it was. The other annoyance is probably just a personal one, but in other point-and-click adventure games I’ve played, you can click on an object way on the other side of the screen and if your character can get there, they’ll walk over there and then get it. In Machinarium, the objects have to be within Josef’s reach. If they’re not, Josef will just shake his head as if you’ve done something wrong. This is also something that had me missing a few objects because they were just out of Josef’s reach which made me think I couldn’t interact with them, when really I just had to move closer. ARGH, RAGE.

Overall however I love Machinarium. It has some totally innovative ideas in it, like how the ‘speech’ is conveyed and the hint system and the design of it is just bloody amazing. If you’re up for a point-and-click puzzle adventure, definitely give Machinarium a try.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

About the Author

I'm just your regular gamer! Currently working in the game industry as an artist. I love all manner of things cute, colourful and crazy. I also love lemons quite a lot. c: