Game Review: ‘Machinarium’

Paul Dohmen | Cadenza Reporter

Rating: 4.5/5

Indie developer Amanita Design hit the scene in 2003 with the flash game “Samorost.” Never heard of them? Neither had I when I loaded up their latest effort, “Machinarium.” That changed fast though. I spent the next two hours in front of my computer, and I wasn’t alone. My roommate watched me play for almost an hour before I had to kick him out. I reluctantly stopped in order to pursue a healthier habit, aka sleep. The next morning, I was back at it again.

“Machinarium” is a classic point-and-click adventure game. You play a small robot, trying to save the city (and your girlfriend) from the meanest bots in the land. The fun thing about the narrative is that there are no spoken words. Everything is conveyed by little animated bubbles. As a result, the plot never gets very complex, but is still engaging enough to keep me wanting more.

The simplistic storyline matches “Machinarium’s” art style. The hand-drawn graphics are beautiful, if a little surreal. They do present a slight problem for a point-and-click adventure, since objects that you’re supposed to interact with sometimes blend into the background, making them hard to spot. But after a short period of frustration, you can usually find what you need.

Unlike some adventure games, in which you can progress by clicking at random, you actually have to think about what you’re doing in “Machinarium.” There’s an almost perfect balance of cleverness mixed with frustration, so that you get a real sense of accomplishment after solving a particularly challenging puzzle.

If you do get stuck, don’t bother going to GameFAQs. There’s a complete walkthrough built right into the game. But instead of giving you instant access whenever you like, you have to earn the help by playing a mini-game. This short side-scrolling shooter was so annoying that I rarely used the walkthrough.

Overall, I would highly recommend “Machinarium” to anyone with a taste for clever puzzles and a bit of patience. Each piece of the game fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, and you actually feel smarter for having played it. Also, if you have time, I would recommend checking out Amanita Design’s previous games. Warning: They are highly addictive.

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