MachinariumMachinarium is a point and click adventure game without text, instead you get speech bubbles with pictures or animations to represent what people say/think/want etc. It’s been an age since I played an adventure game, I’m excited, here’s what I thought.

I’ll start by saying I’m not a fan of adventure games really, they’re often reduced to click scanning the screen to discover what can be interacted with or what is relevant. Often you can spend ages sitting there trying to make sense of a puzzle that has no logic or intuitive solution. When you finally find it that’s either because you did something purely random out of desperation or you admit defeat and look for a solution outside the game. So what on earth possessed me to purchase Machinarium?

Faith dear reader, faith on positive reviews, a charming visual appearance and…. a dirt cheap price on the Steam sale. Ok so not very poetic but it’s true. It runs in a flash based window, which has an annoying habit of not really scaling to 1920×1080 as you can see from the screenshot below. Why even have the resolution option if you have black borders to fill the space? game designer logic I guess.

Anyway now that little gripe is over with, how cool is Machinarium you ask? very cool sir/madam, very cool indeed. The mere sight of my tiny robotic form bogeying to this Jazz band should be enough to convince you really. The no reading picture clue nature of the game is quite fun, it reminds me of a game I played long ago on the Amiga, Curse of Enchantia.

The charming visual world also goes a long way to making it attractive to play, the various places you go all add to the wonder and belief of a very strange machine world that your character lives in. The controls are fairly simple, mouse driven cursor interactions, unfortunately the bottom pop up menu is a little in the way sometimes but it’s a small niggle.

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The story is one of tragic boy girl love and the stealing of said girl, to work for some obviously horrible bullying robots. You wake up having been trashed and must set out to undo all the wrongness in your life. It won’t win any prizes for originality or gender equality, but it does the job.

The puzzles are quite challenging, several had me sat there feeling a little blank, I admit I did look twice at a guide, purely to pass specific puzzle barriers I was having. At least I did before I discovered the in-game solution thingy. For the majority of the game though, I solved it alone with my meager grey cells. The sense of achievement is nice, although perhaps I’m not programmed to be as happy as true adventure game fans are. It mostly just allows me to move on with the adventure and that’s all I really wanted.

There is a little hint button for each puzzle although to be honest I never found it very helpful, it usually gave me a hint I already figured out. You can opt to play a mini-game to navigate to a puzzle solution and I succumbed to it occasionally when I was stuck, but it’s obviously a last resort and you should definitely try not to use it. Otherwise you’ll risk losing all satisfaction when trying to solve the game.

It was more the world and it’s atmosphere that I really enjoyed, the quirky strangeness of everything being poorly maintained and mechanical led me to explore in fascination. I’m looking forward to the sequel of which I believe is on it’s way, although hopefully with a bigger play window. If you like adventure games you probably already have this, but if not, or you’re a bit of an adventurphobe (made that word up), then this is a cool little game with some proper brain addling puzzle challenges and a curious environment to explore.

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