I’ll be doing Machinarium a little bit of a disservice right off the bat here but I need to start somewhere. Put simply Machinarium is a point and click adventure/puzzle game for the PC, if you’ve ever played a Lucas Art’s title such as The Secret of Monkey Island then you’ll know the sort I mean. But quite importantly I need to tell you now that Machinarium is more than just another point and clicker; there’s a real unique deepness to be found here in this little-heard of game.
Machinarium is the tale of a small little robot trying to overcome a group of nasty bullies who are up to no good in robot world. He needs to both put a stop to their nasty plan and rescue a good looking girl robot too.
You take control of the cute little robot just after he is thrown away as garbage onto a scrap heap. Still functional but separated from his limbs, your first goal is to rebuild him by locating his missing pieces. To do so you’ll need to point and click your way around the area; interacting with other characters and the scenery in a bid to puzzle solve your way together again. For example; to get one of your arms back you need to exchange a rather strange looking soft toy with a nearby robotic cockroach for it. Because he’s a robot, our little hero does have an ability that Guybrush from Monkey Island lacked; he can stretch vertically about three times his height to reach objects higher up.
Simplifying it once again; typically you’ll be moving from one scene to another solving all of the puzzles allowing you to progress farther. Of course as you do progress, things become more difficult and the solutions to puzzles are spread over two or three locations and can involve multiple characters. However, it doesn’t matter how strange the puzzles are (believe me, they are strange) or how much tracking and backtracking you need to do to complete them. What makes Machinarium so good is the story telling, and of course, the story itself.
Usually Point and Click adventures tell their story in way of witty dialogue; in the old days this was delivered via text above a characters head, but of course nowadays everything is voiced by real actors. This isn’t a bad thing; I remember being totally wowed by the first games to feature hours of Digital Speech on the revolutionary new CD Rom formats back in the mid 1990’s; even though in those days they were usually rather badly acted. Just like when you compare a book compared to its movie counterpart, sometimes it just turns out that even a great actor can’t always portray an idea originally envisaged inside somebody else’s head. Machinarium tells its story to you in a series of animated thought bubbles emanating from every character; essentially when you interact with someone you’ll see their thought processes. This can be just as simple as another robot with a thought bubble showing a cigarette. So rather than being told verbally that this robot will reward you for bringing him said cigarette; you instead feel more involved with each character and their emotions. Perhaps too tricky to explain in words, that’s why one of the screenshots below will perhaps illustrate this further in your mind.
Machinarium is not only an intriguing puzzle adventure with a great storytelling; it’s also a visual masterpiece too. It’s been so long I’ve actually forgotten how long it’s been since I played a fully hand drawn game. Don’t get me wrong; I love polygons, 3D worlds, texture mapping and real time lighting. However there is a total world of difference to visuals created by really talented artists who could stun someone silent with pencil and paper drawings, to that of 3D models created by someone with a computer mouse. To put it more artistically; it takes can take a group of very talented geeks many weeks to create and make a 3D character out of triangular shapes, look realistic. On the other hand an artist could scribble on a scrap of paper with a piece of charcoal and do the equivalent in just a few seconds. Every scene in Machinarium is a work of art in itself; a gorgeously created gritty robot world that comes alive in a way that games don’t anymore. I forgot to mention the very strange built in hint system featuring a gothic diary; spiders and an R-Type style game. Strange? Sure is.
A classy well thought out puzzle game with real humour and sophistication; Machinarium may be totally overlooked by those uninterested in games that don’t feature; Nazi’s, Guns, Blood or the work Halo, but you’re not one of those people are you? If you liked Braid, LittleBigPlanet or World of Goo, you should love this. Machinarium looks great; sounds wonderful; plays great and is a work of art. 9 out of 10.