Machinarium was a puzzler that was released last year, but I only recently had the chance to play it in its entirety. When the game first booted up I was excited at the prospect in front of me, a classic adventure game with an incredible art style and world. It is unfortunate that the rest of Machinarium couldn’t be as amazing as the world that was created.
I feel I must first start with the good though. Machinarium in this writer’s opinion has three major strengths, its art design, its world and its story/humour.
The story is what truly makes this game stand out, there is absolutely no dialog in the entire game, the only way we are told the story is through these… memory bubbles that explain how this person or location is important or relates to the main character. The memories we see are both humorous and enjoyable to view, it propels you to keep going to see the next part of the story.
The main character a rusted and beat up little robot whose only real ability is to stretch or compact his torso is both lovable and a little pathetic (but in a good way). His likability as a character is a triumph considering we never hear him speak. But for most of us we can relate to his struggle against bullies and his quest to find his true love. Some of the other characters that you meet and interact with are often hilarious, my particular favourite were a pair of robots stuck in a cell who jump in terror at the sight of my arm slipping into their room.
The game takes place in an utterly fantastic world, its steam punk-ish mixed with this rust metal look that really draws you in. All the buildings and machines look warn and mashed together with mismatched pieces to create an absorbing environment that you actually want to spend your time in. However creating a world and story that people want to adventure in is only half the battle when creating an old school adventure game, you must allow have top notch puzzles and goals that are both difficult and yet accessible to the player.
For the most part the puzzles in the game are good, they really take into account the unique world that the character is traversing and as such come up with puzzles that would only work in the world. There are however some points where the games limited color pallet make it impossible to figure out what you can interact with and what is merely part of the foreground. One notable example happens early in the game when you trying to gain access to the robot city, I was stuck playing around with two items for a good ten minutes before I finally cracked and used the “cheat book” found in the game.
The “Cheat Book” as I call it is both a curse and a blessing. It’s nice because if you’re stuck this book will give you an in-depth explanation of how to complete that stages puzzles, however to open the book you have to play a simple navigation game. The problem is this little mini game, while cute the first time you do it becomes frustrating as time goes on. This can be blamed on the fact that the mini game is slow and clunky, touching the wall instantly fails you and you find yourself having to start from the start going at a snail’s pace.
However these shortcomings of our metal clad hero does not change the fact that Machinarium is a great addition to the classic adventure genre, and should be played by anyone who enjoys these types of games.