Colour me charmed
From the moment I laid eyes on Machinarium I was fascinated by its unique sketch-like art style and its rather melancholy atmosphere. When I learned that the striking visuals accompanied a point and click adventure game I snapped it up from Steam. I've completed the rather short but thoroughly charming adventure Machinarium has to offer and I can happily say that almost every moment of the experience was worthwhile. Machinarium tells the story of a little robot that starts of a journey rather down in the dumps - literally. After pulling himself together (again literally) he sets off to search for his girlfriend in a large robotic city off in the distance.
Machinarium plays like a typical point-and-click adventure with the player solving puzzles to progress the story. The protagonist can stretch his legs or squash himself to interact with elements of the environment that would otherwise be out of reach. The game also has the typical adventure game play elements of collecting items, combining them and applying them to the environment to solve puzzles. More traditional puzzles like the sliding tile puzzles you would find in a Professor Layton game are also present. The puzzles range from straight-forward to rather obscure and should provide a decent challenge to most players.
Should you get stuck, the game is kind enough to provide two levels of hint systems. The first is a single image that guides you towards the goal you need to achieve on a specific screen. The other allows you to play a shooting minigame to unlock a full puzzle solution. Shamefully I must admit that I resorted to using this feature once to solve what I felt was one of the game's more obscure puzzles (damn you robo-bird).
Machinarium truly excels in its story telling and presentation. The entire environment is drawn in painstaking detail and all movements are animated well. The ethereal score and sound effects contribute to form the desolate and otherworldly atmosphere of the world the game takes place in. Machinarium has no spoken dialogue and all dialogue (even internal dialogue) is presented in the form of delightful animations played inside speech bubbles. The developers even threw in a few translucency effects and fluid animations one would not typically expect in a 2D flash-based game.
The only detractors from Machinarium are a few bugs you may encounter here and there, some of them game-breakers like items that disappear when used on certain objects, so make use of the save slots provided. You will also encounter the odd mini-game which is not executed as well as the adventure game component, which lifts the skirt on the flash based nature of the game.The adventure is also a tad on the short side for a $20 price tag, I feel, but the length of the experience depends on the time it will take you to solve the puzzles.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Machinarium and I am excited to see what Amanita Design its developers could cook up with a bigger budget. Should this title be glazed over during the holiday rush it can be added to the list of crimes gamers have committed against medium. I'm holding thumbs to see more of the world of Machinarium in the future.