Machinarium Review (PC)
Posted by Robert Hedlerfog, Oct 29, 2009 08:08
At last the long-awaited Machinarium has arrived, a new point and click adventure from the independent game studio, Amanita Design, based in Prague. It awakens the classic adventure gaming feeling from the early 80’s, when inspiring games like The Hobbit, Hitchhikers guide, Bureaucracy and Myst were popular.
Those games were a labour of love and had the intensity, the well-designed game plot and thorough background based on plenty of research. Amanita Design have that same approach in making the robot fantasy Machinarium but also in earlier outlandish and charming work with Samorost, Samorost2 and Questionaut (a children’s quiz for BBC). Amanita Design has undeniably walked their own path among the myriads of games out there.
In Machinarium you take on the role of an ingenious little telescopic robot and subtly battle to save his kidnapped girlfriend and his hometown starting out from a robot scrap yard where he is dumped. He must swiftly come to his beloved and his fellow citizens’ rescue and save the city from being blown to pieces by the three hoodlums of the Black Cap Brotherhood, by using wits and any trick up his telescopic robot sleeves.
The environment is ominous and, at the same time, humorous and beautiful with its hand-drawn and genuine backgrounds. Dungeons, machine rooms, advanced devices, factory buildings, worn-out facades, rusty pipes and dented cisterns, a robot gallery, each with a unique peculiarity. Picture clues must be understood, lurking traps need to be cleared and intriguing puzzles yearn for solutions. Being an archetypical robot tale some robots are musicians, some are bar or house owners, some bad, some good, some policemen, some offenders of the city order or just bullies from Josef’s childhood. Josef gets flashbacks of the malevolent robots he encounter and often daydreams about his missing girlfriend and his childhood. The game has an endearing charm with its handmade animations and tailor made scenarios and brings out plenty of playing joy.
Josef interacts only with objects within reach. The robot has an extended and a compressed mode and can stretch out his telescopic limbs to reach for nearby objects to prevent players to just randomly click them selves to a solution. The inventory system elegantly cleans out the used inventory with a clever animation in a natural and often humorous way.
The level of difficulty varies from pretty basic to fairly advanced. In total there are about 30 locations, suiting all members of the family to play independently or together. Machinarium has many mini-games, even the in-game hint system has to be unlocked by a horizontal shooter. Anything from Rubik’s cube variant to “5-in-a-row“ and other clever little puzzles or devices in-between. All very well crafted with completely sound and logical solutions.
Every scene is planned carefully at the paper and pen stage. All ingenious little steps and clever applications of inventory and related animations are skilfully and artistically executed. That little twinkle in the eye is there, in every scene, in every animation. During every course of action there is customized robot jazz or robot symphonies playing in the background taking gaming music to the next level I dare say. The dedicated musician and the sound technician at Amanita contribute with an important part.
Rating: 5.0, votes: 12