PC point and click games are, to me, pure allure; comprised of eloquently simple ‘pick up and play’ mechanics, their fluent ability to immerse and entertain the player never ceases to amaze me. There’s something about sitting at your PC and utilising a mouse and keyboard for recreational rather than work purposes that feels a little naughty. Perhaps this is due to associating the experience with that of postponing things that actually have to be done – the document/ report/ feature that also lies open on your desktop that absolutely must be finished (and, to that end, often also started) that day.

Machinarium is a particularly endearing breed of point and click puzzle adventure game. Developed by Amanita Design, a small independent studio based in the Czech Republic, the game is abound with charm, from its quirky, tantalising puzzles to its beautifully rendered, artistically stylised environments and score. The soundtrack is in fact so enchanting that it is offered as a separate file for all those who download the game.

Running with this theme of ‘quirk’, the setting of Machinarium is that of a charming robot-inhabited world. One such inhabitant is your childlike player-character, who’s only able to interact with objects lying within arm’s reach. This means the player has to navigate him towards any object they wish to examine. The robot can also extend or protract his neck in order to overcome challenges. Both of these features add a nice depth to many of the puzzles.

The game exhibits a pleasant enigmatic quality, not least because it features no dialogue whatsoever. Instead, events, ideas and instructions are communicated visually to the player via crudely animated character thought bubbles. This is perhaps Machinarium’s most idiosyncratic feature.

It is through this method of communication that a new puzzle is often defined. All the puzzles featured throughout the game are grounded in logic. If the arbitrary algorithms governing the gameplay of certain monkey-centric IP frustrates or even underwhelms you, then this game might well be more to your liking. In overcoming a puzzle, you feel justified in your reward, experiencing a beautiful sense of achievement in the knowledge that your judgement and understanding of the task led to your success. Indeed, this game has provided for me many an out-loud ‘yes’ moment. Lord knows those babies aren’t always forthcoming.

Puzzles are also satisfyingly diverse, allowing your enjoyment of the gameplay to be constantly refreshed. One minute you will find yourself taking part in a noughts and crosses-style competition, and the next an IQ-style picture puzzle, for instance. There’s even some arcade game fun to be had – a ‘game within a game’ novelty of which I shamelessly never tire. And despite their logical basis, many puzzles are nonetheless creative, involving some hugely imaginative gameplay design.

For those who prefer their puzzles a little less puzzling, each brain-teaser is accompanied by a single hint which can be accessed if and when it is needed, although the helpfulness of these hints is certainly questionable. Some are mere repetitions of that which has already been communicated to the player in-game. Machinarium also features a walkthrough that becomes unlocked after completion of a retro-style mini game, and whether you find its initial unavailability annoying or charming will depend on your desire for challenge.







One response to “Machinarium”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I recently went back to Machinarium and completed it, from the moment I had tried the demo a long time ago I knew I would like this game. And I did, it was a great puzzle game, and one game I have actually played on the PC for a change as opposed to me Xbox 360.

    Definitely worth checking out.

Leave a Reply