Robots, dinosaurs, and, somehow, a point and click interface.


Machinarium

( And down goes another game in the Humble Indie Bundle that has plagued my Steam account.) I can already sense the huge mistake I made, so let me try to correct this. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to reach for the backspace key, so I'll just say that I like all the games in the Bundle. I've played through Mario with time travel, a game with nothing but squishy balls, another game about one sticky ball yet no joke, and now, this: a robotic adventure.
 
What exactly are you adventuring for? After birthing yourself as Bender's bastard son (I'd make a Robot Jones joke, but who the hell remembers that show?), you embark on a quest to rescue your girlfriend. Or maybe it's your sister. Hell, maybe rescuing her is just a minor bonus you get for doing a bunch of other shit on your quest. The story isn't exactly clear on anything other than the fact that the villains are dicks, probably because it's all told without a single word. Won't you ever learn, game developers? Won't you ever learn that this strategy only works with simple stories, like Super Metroid and Sonic 3? Granted, Machinarium isn't as bad as Out of this World was with its lack of words, but it could definitely be better. Normally, I'd use that to transition into the awesome graphics, but there is one way that they could be better: screen size. What the hell is it with indie games and screen size? First Digital ate up most of my screen to show off its amazing Amiga-level art, then Machinarium decided to make "windowed" mean "you'll have to drag the borders to make this not full screen", and in the future, Aquaria will default to a 1600000x900000 resolution, no matter the monitor size. However, unlike those other two games (Digital in particular, not really Aquaria), Machinarium looks amazing. How do they manage to stuff so much detail into this game? And it was all made in Flash! Have you an idea how hard it is? Let me give you an idea. I could go on about how awesome it is, but I have to save room for more general dick sucking in the paragraphs to follow.
 
 Oh, another thing to mention: this game has a lot of music that would be perfect for a long elevator ride. You know, like the one near the end of the game.
For those of you who didn't get that, let me state it far more bluntly: fuck Monkey Island, fuck Snatcher, because this is probably my favorite adventure game. What do those games have over Machinarium? Pizza woes? But...uh...Josef (again, words would have helped), being a robot, can swallow just about anything. His stomach can hold a bevy of items for later use, making my earlier Bender joke pretty accurate. Speaking of using things, you just grab them and click on what you want to use. Suck it, Thighbrush Deepwood! And to add further insult to Monkey Island, remember how that game just dumped you on Melee Island and assumed that everything would work out? Josef laughs at such stupidity; instead, the game slowly opens up and eases you into the standard adventure game fare. Things start off with one-screen scenarios, then you get puzzles that take up more than one screen, and finally, you get an entire town to explore...along with a few one-screen scenarios. Obviously, this is a good way to pull off an adventure game, since it means you won't be overwhelmed by puzzles you can't solve because the solution is scattered across nine screens. Instead, you'll be underwhelmed by puzzles you can't solve for other reasons, like vague hints (hooray for hint systems), artwork that doesn't make clear what is and isn't touchable, unstated goals, a lack of descriptions for items, and other such bullshit. Note that I said "underwhelmed" for a reason: very rarely will you find yourself offering a virgin sacrifice to Gaem-Fak, the god of game hints, because the puzzles in this game are perfectly balanced. They're challenging enough to make you feel like a superior dick while not too challenging to make the above happen. And to top it off, they have you doing creative shit like killing cats to assemble a band or checking the time to break out of jail. Do you see why I love this game over other adventure games?
 
However, there are some puzzles that you pretty much can't solve with a walkthrough. How? Two words: logic puzzles. I hated the logic puzzles in this game, probably because I sucked at them pretty hard. Why do I need to play Robo-Tic-Tac-Toe with those robot to get through the game? Just make me fetch a canister of gasoline for the trinkets I need to pass. I'm not very good at these effing logic puzzles, and given their esoteric solutions, I doubt that anybody would be good at them. I'd ask the developers why they included them in the game, but I think I know why: to make the game longer. If that's the case, then it kinda worked. Machinarium isn't short, but holy hell, it goes by quickly. I wish I could find a decent comparison, but I can't. Most things that go by quickly are also short, which explains why it's taking me forever to reach my 200th blog. Machinarium is in a league of its own, though. It's at a fairly decent length, but there's no way in hell that it feels like that. Hey, "league of its own" reminds me of another way in which this game is in a league of its own: all those things I said about how awesome an adventure game this is.
 

Review Synopsis

  • There are only two defining traits of indie games: they look great, but eat up more of your monitor than the desktop.
  • Dear Developers Who Wish to Make Adventure Games in the Future: just copy this game. Nobody would be pissed.
  • Unfortunately, there are logic puzzles. Crap.
 
 
 
 
I'd make a Spirited Away joke, but I used it up in my last blog. Instead, I'll go with the obvious: this is what Dr. Robotnik does in his free time. And you thought Sonic was weird with the whole furry thing.
  
  

Dino Crisis

( It's gonna be one of those types of blogs, isn't it?) Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about; the writing's on the wall, especially since I've started porting Renegade Ego to the harsh world of graffiti blogging. Anyway, this is going to be one of those blogs where I play two completely different games that end up being exactly the same: two good looking adventure games. Wait, it may not be one of those blogs, for one simple reason: while Machinarium was a pretty awesome adventure game, Dino Crisis...eh, it isn't. It's just average.
 
As in "average action movie." The game begins with a redhead, the villain from Avatar, and some guy whose race I can't entirely determine. You three are sent to an island to do...something, but things go awry fairly quickly. How? A dinosaur (or, as the redhead puts it, a "big-ass lizard" (I know, I'll get to it)) comes out of nowhere, cartoonishly chews somebody up, and howls at the moon, because apparently, dinosaurs are wolves. No, seriously, listen for the cartoony chomp sound effect. What the hell is that doing in my survival horror game? And what the hell are dinosaurs doing in an energy plant that may or may not be run by Nazis (the game's not clear on its symbolism)? The game does answer these questions, but only right near the end of the game; until then, it's just uneventful and boring. It's pretty much you wandering around and waiting for Rick (the (I'm guessing) black guy) to open some random door so the lack of story can progress. So if there's pretty much no story, then what can you expect from this game? Mediocre voice acting and writing that matches! For example, remember the Avatar villain I mentioned long ago? Turns out that whoever does his voice emotes less than Microsoft Sam, making some of the more dramatic moments of the game hard to take seriously. It doesn't help that there's some time travel vortex bullshit going on in the background.
 
 I love how nonchalant she is about a FUCKING CORPSE.
Fortunately, what Dino Crisis lacks in story and voice acting and many other things, it makes up for in the graphics department. Holy hell, this is one great looking PS1 game. I'm not even including the ridiculously fluid CGI cutscenes; I'm talking about the in-game stuff that stretches the limits of the PS1. How the hell did Capcom stuff so much detail into these models? This was back in the era of pixelated messes and characters of dinosaur level cartooniness. It shouldn't be possible to pull off shit like...lighting? OK, this is getting weird. My computer apparently can't even create decent lighting, so how the hell does Dino Crisis manage it with pre-rendered environments? Simple: get rid of the pre-rendered part and make everything on-the-fly 3D. You think that I'd love this, and while I logically should, this does introduce an odd dilemma: Dino Crisis, a game based on Resident Evil, still controls like Resident Evil. You still have tank controls and no camera control (outside what the game automatically does, anyway) in an environment that suddenly allows them. Why? Is it supposed to be scarier when I suck at turning? I've heard that excuse before, but I always find it to be kinda bullshit-y. Why not just make the enemies ultra powerful instead of making me hard to control?
 
Actually, Dino Crisis does both. As the name and the orange word "dinosaur" imply, your main enemies are dinosaurs. Damn fine, choice, Capcom. Dinosaurs aren't like the lumbering dumbass zombies of Resident Evil fame; these guys will lunge straight at you with their awesomeness. Get too close to these guys, and they'll knock your gun away, leaving you with nothing but ketchup to camouflage your stupid ass for dropping the gun. These guys are pretty fucking scary...in theory. In practice, they're about as scary as a pet gecko. Granted, they respawn a lot, but I found them pretty easy to weave around, even with the tank controls. At that point, it was just a matter of outrunning them and hoping that a laser wall was nearby. Why? I can get on the other side, turn it on, and watch as they repeatedly run into it. Because that's scary, right? Their only saving grace seems to be the unexpected power of the pop scare, which I can imagine working the first few times. Unfortunately, Capcom doesn't know when to stop, so there are quite a few pop scares. Hell, there's one room whose only purpose seems to be to summon dinosaurs when you approach any of the exits. It's like they were specifically engineered not to be scary in any capacity. Same goes for the final battle, which tells you when to shoot.
 
So the story sucks, the dinosaurs suck, the action sucks ("point and click" is not a very engaging or exciting combat system), but do the puzzles suck? Eh, pretty much. They don't get much more complex than "complete a game of Sudoku to complete this electrical circuit", but that's not what I am here to complain about. After all, they get the job done and some of them can be pretty challenging to solve, which I guess is why Capcom decided to recycle them so damn much. It's pretty damn amazing how often Dino Crisis manages to recycle the same damn puzzles over and over again. I'd ask what it adds to the game, but I'm pretty sure the answer is length...which doesn't make sense, since the game encourages you to finish it in four hours. Why are the unlockables at conflict with the puzzles? Did somebody lock the programmers in different rooms and spread mean rumors or something? But for that to happen, the development team would have to be made up of high school stude-I CRACKED THE CODE! That explains everything about this game: they just shoved a bunch of cool action movie stuff into this, but when it came time to program the game, they didn't really feel like it. That's why all the gameplay aspects are underwhelming as hell! But not why I didn't go into detail on the things I liked about the game. Hmm...yea, it's just a somewhat competent game.

Review Synopsis

  • You'd think a game about dinosaurs would be fairly exciting. It isn't.
  • I'd say that this game looks absolutely amazing, but it does.
  • Basically, if you want a weaker Resident Evil, this is your chance.
6 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King

Machinarium

( And down goes another game in the Humble Indie Bundle that has plagued my Steam account.) I can already sense the huge mistake I made, so let me try to correct this. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to reach for the backspace key, so I'll just say that I like all the games in the Bundle. I've played through Mario with time travel, a game with nothing but squishy balls, another game about one sticky ball yet no joke, and now, this: a robotic adventure.
 
What exactly are you adventuring for? After birthing yourself as Bender's bastard son (I'd make a Robot Jones joke, but who the hell remembers that show?), you embark on a quest to rescue your girlfriend. Or maybe it's your sister. Hell, maybe rescuing her is just a minor bonus you get for doing a bunch of other shit on your quest. The story isn't exactly clear on anything other than the fact that the villains are dicks, probably because it's all told without a single word. Won't you ever learn, game developers? Won't you ever learn that this strategy only works with simple stories, like Super Metroid and Sonic 3? Granted, Machinarium isn't as bad as Out of this World was with its lack of words, but it could definitely be better. Normally, I'd use that to transition into the awesome graphics, but there is one way that they could be better: screen size. What the hell is it with indie games and screen size? First Digital ate up most of my screen to show off its amazing Amiga-level art, then Machinarium decided to make "windowed" mean "you'll have to drag the borders to make this not full screen", and in the future, Aquaria will default to a 1600000x900000 resolution, no matter the monitor size. However, unlike those other two games (Digital in particular, not really Aquaria), Machinarium looks amazing. How do they manage to stuff so much detail into this game? And it was all made in Flash! Have you an idea how hard it is? Let me give you an idea. I could go on about how awesome it is, but I have to save room for more general dick sucking in the paragraphs to follow.
 
 Oh, another thing to mention: this game has a lot of music that would be perfect for a long elevator ride. You know, like the one near the end of the game.
For those of you who didn't get that, let me state it far more bluntly: fuck Monkey Island, fuck Snatcher, because this is probably my favorite adventure game. What do those games have over Machinarium? Pizza woes? But...uh...Josef (again, words would have helped), being a robot, can swallow just about anything. His stomach can hold a bevy of items for later use, making my earlier Bender joke pretty accurate. Speaking of using things, you just grab them and click on what you want to use. Suck it, Thighbrush Deepwood! And to add further insult to Monkey Island, remember how that game just dumped you on Melee Island and assumed that everything would work out? Josef laughs at such stupidity; instead, the game slowly opens up and eases you into the standard adventure game fare. Things start off with one-screen scenarios, then you get puzzles that take up more than one screen, and finally, you get an entire town to explore...along with a few one-screen scenarios. Obviously, this is a good way to pull off an adventure game, since it means you won't be overwhelmed by puzzles you can't solve because the solution is scattered across nine screens. Instead, you'll be underwhelmed by puzzles you can't solve for other reasons, like vague hints (hooray for hint systems), artwork that doesn't make clear what is and isn't touchable, unstated goals, a lack of descriptions for items, and other such bullshit. Note that I said "underwhelmed" for a reason: very rarely will you find yourself offering a virgin sacrifice to Gaem-Fak, the god of game hints, because the puzzles in this game are perfectly balanced. They're challenging enough to make you feel like a superior dick while not too challenging to make the above happen. And to top it off, they have you doing creative shit like killing cats to assemble a band or checking the time to break out of jail. Do you see why I love this game over other adventure games?
 
However, there are some puzzles that you pretty much can't solve with a walkthrough. How? Two words: logic puzzles. I hated the logic puzzles in this game, probably because I sucked at them pretty hard. Why do I need to play Robo-Tic-Tac-Toe with those robot to get through the game? Just make me fetch a canister of gasoline for the trinkets I need to pass. I'm not very good at these effing logic puzzles, and given their esoteric solutions, I doubt that anybody would be good at them. I'd ask the developers why they included them in the game, but I think I know why: to make the game longer. If that's the case, then it kinda worked. Machinarium isn't short, but holy hell, it goes by quickly. I wish I could find a decent comparison, but I can't. Most things that go by quickly are also short, which explains why it's taking me forever to reach my 200th blog. Machinarium is in a league of its own, though. It's at a fairly decent length, but there's no way in hell that it feels like that. Hey, "league of its own" reminds me of another way in which this game is in a league of its own: all those things I said about how awesome an adventure game this is.
 

Review Synopsis

  • There are only two defining traits of indie games: they look great, but eat up more of your monitor than the desktop.
  • Dear Developers Who Wish to Make Adventure Games in the Future: just copy this game. Nobody would be pissed.
  • Unfortunately, there are logic puzzles. Crap.
 
 
 
 
I'd make a Spirited Away joke, but I used it up in my last blog. Instead, I'll go with the obvious: this is what Dr. Robotnik does in his free time. And you thought Sonic was weird with the whole furry thing.
  
  

Dino Crisis

( It's gonna be one of those types of blogs, isn't it?) Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about; the writing's on the wall, especially since I've started porting Renegade Ego to the harsh world of graffiti blogging. Anyway, this is going to be one of those blogs where I play two completely different games that end up being exactly the same: two good looking adventure games. Wait, it may not be one of those blogs, for one simple reason: while Machinarium was a pretty awesome adventure game, Dino Crisis...eh, it isn't. It's just average.
 
As in "average action movie." The game begins with a redhead, the villain from Avatar, and some guy whose race I can't entirely determine. You three are sent to an island to do...something, but things go awry fairly quickly. How? A dinosaur (or, as the redhead puts it, a "big-ass lizard" (I know, I'll get to it)) comes out of nowhere, cartoonishly chews somebody up, and howls at the moon, because apparently, dinosaurs are wolves. No, seriously, listen for the cartoony chomp sound effect. What the hell is that doing in my survival horror game? And what the hell are dinosaurs doing in an energy plant that may or may not be run by Nazis (the game's not clear on its symbolism)? The game does answer these questions, but only right near the end of the game; until then, it's just uneventful and boring. It's pretty much you wandering around and waiting for Rick (the (I'm guessing) black guy) to open some random door so the lack of story can progress. So if there's pretty much no story, then what can you expect from this game? Mediocre voice acting and writing that matches! For example, remember the Avatar villain I mentioned long ago? Turns out that whoever does his voice emotes less than Microsoft Sam, making some of the more dramatic moments of the game hard to take seriously. It doesn't help that there's some time travel vortex bullshit going on in the background.
 
 I love how nonchalant she is about a FUCKING CORPSE.
Fortunately, what Dino Crisis lacks in story and voice acting and many other things, it makes up for in the graphics department. Holy hell, this is one great looking PS1 game. I'm not even including the ridiculously fluid CGI cutscenes; I'm talking about the in-game stuff that stretches the limits of the PS1. How the hell did Capcom stuff so much detail into these models? This was back in the era of pixelated messes and characters of dinosaur level cartooniness. It shouldn't be possible to pull off shit like...lighting? OK, this is getting weird. My computer apparently can't even create decent lighting, so how the hell does Dino Crisis manage it with pre-rendered environments? Simple: get rid of the pre-rendered part and make everything on-the-fly 3D. You think that I'd love this, and while I logically should, this does introduce an odd dilemma: Dino Crisis, a game based on Resident Evil, still controls like Resident Evil. You still have tank controls and no camera control (outside what the game automatically does, anyway) in an environment that suddenly allows them. Why? Is it supposed to be scarier when I suck at turning? I've heard that excuse before, but I always find it to be kinda bullshit-y. Why not just make the enemies ultra powerful instead of making me hard to control?
 
Actually, Dino Crisis does both. As the name and the orange word "dinosaur" imply, your main enemies are dinosaurs. Damn fine, choice, Capcom. Dinosaurs aren't like the lumbering dumbass zombies of Resident Evil fame; these guys will lunge straight at you with their awesomeness. Get too close to these guys, and they'll knock your gun away, leaving you with nothing but ketchup to camouflage your stupid ass for dropping the gun. These guys are pretty fucking scary...in theory. In practice, they're about as scary as a pet gecko. Granted, they respawn a lot, but I found them pretty easy to weave around, even with the tank controls. At that point, it was just a matter of outrunning them and hoping that a laser wall was nearby. Why? I can get on the other side, turn it on, and watch as they repeatedly run into it. Because that's scary, right? Their only saving grace seems to be the unexpected power of the pop scare, which I can imagine working the first few times. Unfortunately, Capcom doesn't know when to stop, so there are quite a few pop scares. Hell, there's one room whose only purpose seems to be to summon dinosaurs when you approach any of the exits. It's like they were specifically engineered not to be scary in any capacity. Same goes for the final battle, which tells you when to shoot.
 
So the story sucks, the dinosaurs suck, the action sucks ("point and click" is not a very engaging or exciting combat system), but do the puzzles suck? Eh, pretty much. They don't get much more complex than "complete a game of Sudoku to complete this electrical circuit", but that's not what I am here to complain about. After all, they get the job done and some of them can be pretty challenging to solve, which I guess is why Capcom decided to recycle them so damn much. It's pretty damn amazing how often Dino Crisis manages to recycle the same damn puzzles over and over again. I'd ask what it adds to the game, but I'm pretty sure the answer is length...which doesn't make sense, since the game encourages you to finish it in four hours. Why are the unlockables at conflict with the puzzles? Did somebody lock the programmers in different rooms and spread mean rumors or something? But for that to happen, the development team would have to be made up of high school stude-I CRACKED THE CODE! That explains everything about this game: they just shoved a bunch of cool action movie stuff into this, but when it came time to program the game, they didn't really feel like it. That's why all the gameplay aspects are underwhelming as hell! But not why I didn't go into detail on the things I liked about the game. Hmm...yea, it's just a somewhat competent game.

Review Synopsis

  • You'd think a game about dinosaurs would be fairly exciting. It isn't.
  • I'd say that this game looks absolutely amazing, but it does.
  • Basically, if you want a weaker Resident Evil, this is your chance.
Posted by Mento

I'm glad to see I'm not the only blogger blogging about something other than E3. I haven't played Machinarium, but it's currently the only Steam game I have installed ready to go whenever I'm prepared. If logic puzzles are your only complaint against it, I think I should enjoy it.
 
Talking of the Humble Bundle, I swore I saw Samorost 2 for sale on Steam the other day. It's not in my library, which is where all the other HB games went when I activated them for Steam. Did they forget to include it, or..?

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Mento
 
I'd ask you if you can recall a time when I ever blogged about E3, but I can remember at least one occasion. It was WAY back, so don't bother looking for it.
 
Kind of? I have both Samorost2 outside and inside Steam, but the one inside Steam isn't installed. My best guess is that they added it later and didn't tell anybody.
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Like all indie games, Machniarium seems like something I should play, yet I'd always rather spend my money somewhere else. Like how I just blew $15 on that Super Street Fighter DLC. Once again, I really need to check my bank statement, just to make sure that I'm not at risk of overdrawing like I was during Steam's christmas sale. 
 
So, Dino Crisis is like a less-good Resident Evil with Dinosaurs? Approximately how many cranks are used throughout the game? And really, Capcom's thing where they shove in a bunch of action movie craziness at odds with the actual gameplay can clearly be traced back to Resident Evil 3 and perfectly exemplified in Code Veronica. Of course, I also think Code Veronica sucks, so there's that.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater
 
Oddly enough, there aren't a lot of cranks in the game, although I do remember a shitload of door input thingies and battery mini-games. Again, the game goes way too far in recycling puzzles.
 
Oddly enough, I wouldn't know how Code Veronica handles the action movie thing. My experience with it was yelling, "HOW THE FUCK DO I KILL THIS ZOMBIE!?" before playing the other game I rented from Blockbuster. That last word really indicates how long ago this was. As for Resident Evil 3, yea, it was too damn action-y. How am I supposed to be scared of zombies when I have enough bullets to start a small revolution?
Posted by Guided_By_Tigers

Resident Evil with Dinosaurs, that's all that needs to be said about Dino Crisis.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Unknown_Pleasures
 
Pretty much. You could add "but with better graphics and less developed gameplay" and you'd have the blurb for the back of the box.