I posted a tweet the other day about how you should check out Machinarium if you like atmospheric music, point-and-click adventures, or puzzle games. I thought I’d touch on a few more details in a quick blog post.
First thing is first though: if you have any interest in the game, check out the demo on the website. It covers the first few stages, and gives you a pretty good indication as to what the rest of the game is like. It’s the best way to decide if it’s a game you’d be interested in. For me, it was well worth $5 – if for no other reason than to get the soundtrack.
Which leads me to my favorite part of the game: the music. As I mentioned in my tweet, it’s very atmospheric. It sets the mood of the game more than providing actual background music – although there is some of that as well. As you can imagine, it’s inspired by machines of old, which the game also seems inspired by. It works really well.
If you know what a point and click adventure is, you know what is involved with Machinarium. The game consists entirely of moving from one location to another, discovering secrets, and solving puzzles to open the path to the next location. The puzzles, and the presentation of the puzzles, are very clever. Sometimes what you need to do is obvious. Sometimes it requires a lot of trial and error until you discover the one little secret that you forgot. And other times, you hit a brick wall and really don’t know how the pieces fit together. (Sometimes, literally. You have an inventory of items you collect, which you can use to solve puzzles. Those items can be fastened together to create a new item, too.) In cases where you are stumped, the game gives you two helping hands. The first is a simple pictorial hint, which you can use once per location. This gets progressively vague as the game goes on. The next helping hand is a complete walkthrough. To get to it, you play a simple, sometimes challenging mini-game. Once unlocked, it shows you the progression of what needs to be done in your current locale, in comic-book, pictorial form. The interesting thing is that it ONLY shows you the current location – it doesn’t tell you how it relates to stuff you need to do in other locations.
The story so far has been the weakest part of the game. You aren’t explicitly told what you’re trying to do, although pieces start to fill in as you progress. There is no dialog in the game, just pictures in thought bubbles. It’s a cute presentation, and it’s interesting to see how well the story is told within these limitations. But it has not been my driving force for continuing to play.
This is a flash-based game, so it runs on any platform that supports flash – Windows, Mac and Linux. Saying that it’s “flash-based” carries certain negative assumptions with it, but it’s actually very well implemented. This is how flash SHOULD be used. I’m impressed.
Later on in the game, the puzzles become a little bit trickier to figure out, but it never becomes impossible – and, of course, you have the walkthrough to nudge you in the right direction if you truly get stuck.
All in all, it is a very charming game, and worth your time to experience. At least try out the demo. I bought the game on sale for $5, and that was primarily for the soundtrack. But now I’m playing the game too, and I’m enjoying it.