Homo Machina is a charming adventure through a mechanical human body, but a lack of clarity in its gameplay creates some frustrating moments that hold it back despite the other aspects of it being so strong.
The mobile game is inspired by the work of Fritz Kahn and his medical illustrations. It reimagines the human body as a 1920s factory, complete with assembly lines and heavy machinery. Each section of the body has to be maintained and kept efficient by the workers inside the body. It is a fun, charming premise that certainly pays homage to the original infographics it draws inspiration from.
The gameplay has rather simple puzzle solving mechanics having you tap and swipe on various machine parts to get that section of the body working. For instance, at the beginning of the game, you open a shutter and adjust an old-fashioned camera accordingly, to get the body’s eyes functioning. You then proceed to fix and maintain various parts of the body, from the heart to the nervous system. Each level has its own puzzle attached to it, which, surprisingly, demonstrates how that body part works. Even if it is not medically accurate, on a metaphorical level it helps you come to a better understanding of the inner workings of your body.
However, even though the actual mechanics are easy to do, the game does not effectively explain how to do it. Little direction is given to the player, so sometimes you are left randomly tapping and swiping at the screen until you hit the right prompt by chance. This happens a few times over the course of the hour-long game and it is particularly disappointing considering how excellent the other aspects of Homo Machina are.
The art style is absolutely gorgeous to look at, full of colour and small details. The game’s dialogue and the general tone is so charming you cannot help but grin, especially when you read some of the wittier lines of dialogue. And the game’s 1920s inspired soundtrack is a real pleasure to listen to. These aspects pull a lot of the heavy lifting in the enjoyment of this game. They are so well executed that in fact the frustrations with the gameplay quite easily subside.
Although there are moments within the gameplay that can be annoying, Homo Machina still manages to pull off an enjoyable experience through its other aspects. Its surprisingly educational sections, wonderful art style, charming story and pleasant music are all masterfully constructed and contribute to a satisfying exploration in the factory of a human body.