Jan 042011
 

Publisher: Amanita Design / Developer: Amanita Design / Platform: PC, Mac

Ever since I was a kid and my dad’s co-worker handed me a copy of Day of the Tentacle on CD-ROM, I’ve always had a soft spot for point-and-click adventure games.  While the genre is known for obtuse puzzles and obscure pixel hunts, usually it’s the engaging characters and wonderful soundtrack that keeps you coming back.  Machinarium, a game in the same genre by developer Amanita Design, is no exception.

The game starts with the protagonist, a nameless bug-eyed robot, being dropped into a dump by a garbage “ship” resembling a house fly.  From there you have to put yourself back together and find your way back into the large metallic city the ship came from.  As the game goes on you find out more about why the game started with you flying away from your home town in a trash heap.  While there are no real surprising twists in the story, the world that Machinarium creates is no less than astounding, and although there is no real dialogue other than thought bubbles, each and every one of the characters you run into is memorable in its own way.

The graphics in Machinarium are entirely hand drawn, and all look wonderful.  The entire game has a sort of pencil sketch look to it, and each area you are brought through is completely different from the next.  It is clear that Amanita Design wanted to both capture the feel of old 2D adventure games like Monkey Island, but also add in its own unique flair.

The majority of the puzzles in Machinarium are similar to that of most other classic adventure games.  In order to get object A, you have to find object B, which requires object C to retrieve it, and so forth.  What annoyed me personally, however, were the logic puzzles.  Most of the object-based puzzles are challenging, however eventually you will find the answer in a surprising “a ha!” moment.  At some points in the game, however, instead of requiring an object to pass through to the next puzzle, the game throws a more frustrating puzzle at you like trying to push blocks in a specific order without touching other blocks, or trying to reroute water through a confusing maze of pipes.  I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of puzzles like this, so while some players may find joy in moments like these, to me it was no more than a nuisance.

AAAAAARGH

Aside from the wonderful art style and delightful characters, Machinarium has an amazing soundtrack.  Each area in Machinarium has its own unique background music to it, and at times you’ll just want to stand there and listen.  From the sad, lonely piano tunes playing inside an elevator to the fuzzy, half-broken muzak playing inside a bar, Machinarium’s scenery is given just as much unique flavor as the characters themselves.

Overall, despite the sometimes-annoying logic puzzles, I greatly enjoyed my time with Machinarium.  The game will take only a few hours to complete overall, but that’s if you nail every puzzle on the first try.  While game length is usually something I find most important about a game, Machinarium’s unique art style and amazing soundtrack make it worth checking out regardless.

James

James has been writing game reviews for a few years at (the now mostly dead) getxbox.net, and more recently began writing with Kate at Critical Hit. James enjoys character customization, indie games and RPGs of somewhat questionable quality. Replayability is a huge focus of his enjoyment of a game, and graphics are something he usually doesn't pay much attention to as long as there is good gameplay to back it up.