Friday, September 28, 2012

S&S Indie Review: Machinarium

Title: Machinarium
Format: PC, PS3, iOS
Release Date: October 2009, Q4 2012(PS3)
Publisher: Amanita Design
Developer: Amanita Design
Price: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E

Machinarium has to be one of the more special indie games ever released.  With its imminent release for PS3, I had to go back and finish the PC version of the game, and I loved every minute of it.

Presentation and Story:
You play as young Josef, a small robot that gets exiled to the junkyard.  An evil corporation, the Black Cap Brotherhood, has taken over his city and he must get it back.  Josef is also going into Machinarium to rescue his robot girlfriend from the evil BCB as well.  Its a charming story, to say the least, even though its pretty simplistic in its limited scope.  The one thing that takes this game to the next level, has to be its sublime 2D visuals.  Everything in the world looks hand painted and hand crafted from the ground up.  I used to call games cutesy, but I now know that developers don't particularly approve of anybody calling their games cute, but I digress.  The word charming will come up frequently when discussing this game.  The robots themselves show and possess a lot of emotion, even though there isn't a single lick of dialogue in the game.  You'll come across robots expressing deep levels of boredom, frustration and even a bit of anxiety.  Surrounding these robots are a number of highly detailed environments that really engrosses you into this depressing but quirky world.  Since there isn't any dialogue in the game besides the random sound effects certain robots exude, the mechanical soundtrack definitely adds what the lack of voice takes away.
Core Gameplay:
The gameplay is very simple, but a number of challenging puzzles will  keep you engaged throughout your playthrough.  Its a simple point and click adventure that really won't take you that long to finish.  If you're not as apt to solve some of the more daunting puzzles, like myself, then the game utilizes a cool intuitive hint system.  Clicking a certain button will display a visual hint for what you need to do, if this still doesn't help you in any way, you hit that button again and the game will show you a step-by-step visual guide needed to solve the puzzles.  Its a bit of a cop out, but even though it tells you the steps, it doesn't show you  everything you need to know, so it'll still require some brainpower to actually finish the game.  You won't be able to just randomly click across the entire screen to find what you need to advance, the game's excellent level design makes that impossible.  Any puzzle fan will come to appreciate the game's challenging yet fair puzzles and its intuitive puzzle-solving mechanics as well.  
Final Thoughts:
Even though the game isn't a long by any means, for $10 bucks, you're getting a quality indie title, which is very hard to come by nowadays.  Some truly mesmerizing visuals and great puzzles to complete, this one was an easy purchase.
S&S Rating: 8.5/10
@whatsPlay

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