Home Games & Tech Look-Back-Review: Machinarium

Look-Back-Review: Machinarium

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After seeing this indie game for sale on Steam, I thought I’d try it out. I instantly loved it.

Machinarium is an indie point and click puzzle game. Developed by Amanita Design (the same people who brought us Botanicula and Samorost), it’s playable on a variety of platforms such as Microsoft Windows, OS X, iPad 2, Android, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.

The artwork is in a beautiful steampunk style, with amazing detail. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world of metal cities and robots of all shapes and sizes. We follow our protagonist, a lovable little robot (I believe the real name is Josef, but I affectionately named it Banter) as it navigates its way from the scrapheap and through the city, dodging the mafia, stopping the bomb plot and finding its companion.

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There’s no dialogue in this game, or any coherent language, apart from the cute garbled noises of the different robots. Instead, communication takes the form of gestures and animated thought and speech bubbles. Also, the soundtrack by Tomáš Dvořák, is both quirky and mesmerising – I listen to it when I study, and once played it through three times straight when writing on an essay. It’s just wonderful and eerie.

Machinarium is single player only, though there is nothing to stop it being played as a group, working through the puzzles together. The game increases in difficulty, going from fairly simple to WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO (but in a good way).

There are hints and clues which are available at each level, but I didn’t find them very useful, which is a downside. However, a unique feature about Machinarium is that Banter can only interact with objects in his reach. This stopped me from waving my cursor all over the screen until I found something I could click on. As a result, you actually explore the setting and the scenery, really taking in the amazing hand-drawn details in the artwork.

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Banter’s little metal torso can be stretched up or contracted down to reach things (and so it can waddle around, clanking away as it does so). It has an inventory which holds the objects it collects on its journey, and these will be inevitably used to solve the puzzles (and can be combined). Helpfully, it never has to carry more than it needs, so we don’t have to sort through any useless stuff. Also, if you’ve been staring at the screen without making a move for a few minutes, it has little endearing flashbacks to his childhood, shown in his thought bubbles.

Machinarium is a beautiful and charming game, and as you follow the endearing Banter complete challenge after challenge, you just don’t want it to end.

 

Christy Ku

 

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