Created by Amanita Design
Available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Steam and Android
Machinarium is a point-and-click adventure puzzle game for PC, Android, Mac and Linux from Czech Republic developers Amanita Design. As Josef, the player must complete a series of puzzles to advance onto the next level, gaining one step closer to his girlfriend. However, the puzzles themselves are no simple task. Whilst the first and second level may be straightforward as such, the subsequent levels increase in difficulty, with trial and error, along with mental skill and patience, the only way to tackle the environment and help little Josef reach his goal.
Getting stuck on the game will be a fact of gameplay life, but creators Amanita Design have placed two functions to help you. The first is a hint button which can be pressed to give the player a simple hint, that isn’t always terribly helpful. The second is an actual walkthrough. This is the first game I’ve ever encountered that actually provides you with a walkthrough guide should you be stuck beyond all help. However, if you wish to read the guide, you first have to complete a mini game that involves a side scrolling key that must shoot down the spiders that lurk on the path and avoid brushing against the brick environment. This mini-game must be completed each and every time you want to view the guide, which helps to dissuade you from using it unless absolutely necessary.
The main attraction of the game, for me, is the hand-drawn animation. The game is a piece of art as well as entertainment, brimming in personality with its range of unique characters, particularly the star of the game, little robot Josef. I dare you to find a character cuter than Josef. He’s absolutely adorable, with his approach to storing different objects. Whenever an object that is useful, has purpose and can be potentially used, the player must direct Josef to stand near it and click on it. Josef then grabs the object, opens wide and eats it to store it in his inventory. However, if you find something like a rope, which you’ll find on the very first level, he will suck it up like spaghetti pasta and finally place the last bit in his mouth. Likewise, when removing the rope with a magnet attached, he’ll start to pull it out from between his tin lips. I don’t know about you, but I could watch him do that all day long, with such cute and thoughtful animation that absolutely captivates. He also has the ability to stretch and become tall, and shrink into a squashed robot. Becoming tall allows Josef to reach those objects that are higher up, but walking in this state has him shuffling at a slow pace, like someone walking on stilts. Becoming small allows Josef to squeeze into tiny places such as low down holes in the walls or underneath objects – places that he wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
Objects that are stored in the inventory can be combined with others to create the tools to achieve a task. If this can be done, the game will allow you to do so and use the combined object when need be. Objects can be found in the same vacinity usually, although as you delve further into the game, you may be required to search for objects in different locations, such as when helping the robot in the wheelchair find some sunflower oil or helping the robot band fix their instruments.
None of the characters in Machinarium talk as such, only communicating via thought and speech bubbles and the odd noise, like a sinister chuckle made by the Black Cap Brotherhood. Leave Josef standing too long and he’ll start to reminisce about playing in a giant hot-tub like container of oil with his girlfriend, which is one of the many sweet moments of the game.
Available to purchase with the game is the Machinarium soundtrack, a beautiful score that suits the game down to a T. Composed by Tomas Dvorak, the score is both mysterious, fantastical and arty, and really captures the mechanical city adventures.
Whilst I sing the praises of Machinarium and rightly so, because it is a stunning game, it unfortunately has a big problem when it comes to saving the game. More often than not, the save game that you create will disappear the next time you attempt to load it, especially if you’ve restarted the computer since playing, due to the game created and using Flash. This is a nightmare for any gamer, and especially in a game as puzzle-based as this. There is a workaround, and whilst it’s not ideal, it does make playing the game that much better. As everyone’s gameplay should be the same (i.e. linear options, rather than open options of achieving one task), Amanita have created .sol save files that you can download from their website and save to your machinarium.exe directory file on your PC. To find this directory, type in the search machinarium.exe under Local Disk and you should find a machinarium.sol file already exists here. Just replace it with the one you downloaded and boot the game. This may take a couple of attempts to work, as I experienced, but it does so in the end.
All in all, Machinarium is an absolutely stunning game to play. I cannot begin to comprehend how someone could come up with the puzzles, story and concept of the whole thing and it is beyond gaming as we know it. I think it’d be pretty safe to say this is a work of art and I challenge anyone not to appreciate its beauty.
Machinarium is a game that must be played and enriches the lives of those who do!