* Prices may differ from that shown
This is a lovely game that I completed twice altogether with no loss of enthusiasm! The game's main character is a endearing little robot who you guide around using your mouse. Along the way there are many puzzles that your robot must solve to progress. Although there isn't a dialogue in this game, it is clear what is happening and there are prompts readily available including hints if you get stuck (...it's much more fun not using these)! The antagonists of this story are three robot thugs who are hatching a plan that your little guy must try to stop!
There are many good points about this game including the relatively low price point of $10 as a download from the site. I bought this game as part of a discounted bundle, so you can get it for even cheaper than $10. This was also the first game that I played together with my partner and it proved to be so much fun. In the end we completed it in around a week by playing a few hours each day. The skill level is good for everyone - for an adult the skill level is set about right, and for a young child I would imagine parts of it would be hard but the hints are available if needed so progress can be made without frustration. I've found with some games that after completing it, it's difficult to have the same level of enjoyment playing it a second time round, but the puzzles and settings are numerous and diverse enough for you to love playing it over again.
This game has been very successful scoring high marks on several aggregators as well as winning several gaming awards including the Best Soundtrack award from PC Gamer a few years ago. You can even buy the soundtrack on the official Machinarium website. The game is also available on both Windows and Mac operating systems. The animation is lovely - it looks like a beautifully illustrated book and is highly imaginative overall. The backgrounds are very detailed and there are many interactive features in each new scene that you enter. I really feel that this game would be great for anybody, but if you aren't convinced about this game, then you can check out the website where you can play a demo from the game. The demo is the opening part of the actual game - I'm sure you'll want to play more afterwards.
Im not usually a fan of point and click games, but a friend recommended this to me and after seeing the artwork for it, I just had to try it.
What is it?
Machinarium is a one player 'point and click' puzzle game developed by Amanita design and was released in 2009. The aim of the game is to solze a series of puzzles and problems through beautiful landscapes playing as a mute little metal robot character, who has been exhiled to the scrap heap. The aim of the game is to help the little robot to solve puzzles to enable him to get back to the city of Machinarium and rescue his robot girlfriend.
Whats special about it?
The backgrounds are beautiful hand drawn works of art, and the animation is intensly detailed with an excellent soundtrack. The puzzles that you have to work through can be quite tricky at times, others quite easy - so this is not a continuousy frustrating game - which is nice. If you do get stuck however there are little hints to help you along the way. Failing that there are walkthroughs available online for free. It balances the right amount of complexity to ensure you feel satisfaction when finishing the game. The little robot chap you control throughout the game is incredibly cuteand endearing and makes you laugh out loud at his thought bubbles and movements. There is no dialogue or speech throughout the game which just adds to its charm. Alot of recent game releases seem to come with a lot of glitches - something that greatly irritates me - this however appears to be glitch free.
Machinarium has won several awards since its release in 2009;
IGF 2009, Excellence in Visual Art Award
Nomination for 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards (DICE Awards)
Gamasutra, Best Indie Game Of 2009
VGChartz.com, Best Indie Game Of 2009
PC Gamer, Best Soundtrack of 2009
Which is a testament to how good this game actually is!
Who are Amanita Design?
Amanita Design are a small independant video game studio based in the Czech Republic, established in 2003. As well as video games the company has also produced some music videos, websites, animations and illustrations. Other beautiful games they have created include Botanicula, Samorost and Questionaut among several others. To take a look at their beautiful work you can visit http//www.amanita-designs.net
How much does it cost?
I got mine from amazon for around £11, however at the moment the special collectors edition is up there for around £5 which includes...
Additional CD with the games music and 5 additional bonus sound tracks
Booklet including never seen before concept art
A printed walkthrough
At this bargain of a price I definitely recommend you give it a try, if you dont like it, you've not spent a fortune on it. To get a taste of the beauty of this game you can visit http://www.machinarium.net which has a free demo for you to try, and you can also download the game from there aswell for $10 if you'd rather download it than buy it and have to wait!
So to summarise, you should definitely go out and buy this game or atleast try the demo - even if you dont enjoy point and click games! Its an absolute gem of a game and is worth playing just for the animation and artwork alone!
These days, whenever I venture into the world of gaming it is usually a disappointing experience. Discussions about the subject with friends often leaves me sounding rather bitter and nostalgic as I bemoan the demise of creative games design and the fall of independent development houses as they are gobbled up by the likes of EA, and how modern games are vapid COD clones blah blah blah. Sorry, I'm boring even myself now, but if you lived through the golden age of PC games in the 1990s, you'll have an idea about to what I'm referring.
However, the jaded old cynic in me is sometimes surprised and delighted, as occasionally a game will come along and remind me just how good video games can be. 'Machinarium', by indie developers Amanita Design (I even love their mushroom based name) is such a game, and is a truly wonderful experience.
Revisiting the now almost forgotten genre of 'point n' click' puzzle adventure gaming, Machinarium is a bold move in the current noisy market of first-person shooters. Playing out like a silent cartoon, the game revolves around the story of a nameless protagonist robot, waking up in bits in the junkyard outside the rusty city of Machinarium, which plays home to a population of robotic inhabitants. Although there is no dialogue, the story is wonderfully told through a series of 'thought' bubbles and flashbacks. It would appear that a bunch of bully boy robots have dumped our likeable protagonist there, separated him from his girlfriend and generally been obnoxious to all the other robots they met along the way. It's up to you to guide our robotic hero through the city, rescue his girlfriend, and uncover their nefarious plans to do more damage to the city of Mechanarium...
This game is wonderfully simple to play. Using just the mouse, you navigate the screens by clicking where you want your robot to go. Objects and characters that can be interacted with will glow faintly when you hover the cursor over them, so there's no need for random clicking on things to see if they are part of the scenery or a puzzle. The robot has an inventory (kept in his tummy) which can be accessed, and as his torso is a spring, he can be stretched or compressed to become tall or short as necessary. This is vital in the solving of some puzzles, and the game is driven by its series of puzzles to solve and move on to the next screens.
The puzzles vary in style and difficulty, which means they always stay fresh. They range from the familiar, such as having to beat a grumpy robot at nought and crosses (or, more accurately, 'nuts and bolts') and sliding tile picture puzzles, to working out how bizarre machines work and re-wiring them to achieve a different outcome. It is worth mentioning that all the puzzles are logical and can be figured out, rather than resorting to the frustrating or obtuse as some point 'n click puzzle games have done in the past (I'm looking at you, Discworld!).
The developers have also been quite kind to the gamer without being patronising. The menu contains two help options. The first is the 'clue lightbulb', which will provide one clue per puzzle. Using this will show your robot's desired outcome, and leave the rest up to you. The second is a journal with the complete walkthrough in there, although unlocking it requires completing a mini-game of its own. By providing these, they have given the gamer a much more satisfying and enjoyable recourse for becoming unstuck than simply googling the answer.
The most difficult puzzles may be too hard for some children, to whom this game will have wide appeal so it may be best for younger players to be accompanied with an adult to help them.
~Visuals and Style~
Machinarium is an instantly likeable game. The artwork has been lovingly put together, with a 'pencil sketched' cartoonish style. The silent comedy aspect is great, with characters brought to life with facial expressions and gesticulations - no easy thing to achieve when dealing with cartoon robots. It is very European in its feel and aesthetics, rather than Disney, but fans of the animated films 'Wall-E' and 'Robots' will find much to like here.
The characters are brilliantly drawn and created, and the backdrops are full of atmosphere and humour. Robot cats chase robot birds, rusty old robots glug engine oil in seedy bars, dustbin robots with hoovers for noses try to keep the city clean... It's a great world to lose yourself in, and it's quite capable of making the gamer laugh out loud on occasion, as well as emotionally engage with these characters.
Amanita have created a truly brilliant game here, with great puzzles, story and characters. It has been released across numerous platforms including PC, Mac and iPad, and since it isn't graphics intense pretty much any computer can run it without the need for huge amounts of RAM and expensive graphics cards. The developers have also done away with the draconian DRM that plagues current PC games, realising that it doesn't stop piracy and alienates the legitimate users. It also means that should you wish to sell your physical copy afterwards you can, rather than being lumped with a game that cannot be sold secondhand. This is a welcome step in the right direction; the bigger games companies should take note.
It is available to buy direct to disk, via Steam, and there is also a lovingly packaged DVD version too. It's also very cheap, costing no more than £10.
However, there is one real problem with this game. There is a very annoying bug that affects a large percentage of users, leaving them with their saved games wiped after closing the game down. As it is programmed in Flash, many web browsers with enhanced protection will wipe any temporary files associated with Flash. This can be rectified by altering the settings, or making a backup of the .sol files before you exit the game. Alternatively there is an archive of saved games on the Amanita site forums which can be downloaded and dropped into the appropriate folder on your hard drive. It's a fairly quick workaround, but an annoying one that shouldn't be in there.
Overall, this is a real gem of a game, made by people who care about their creations and pour imagination, humour and soul into their work. I hope that Amanita stay independent and release many more great works in the future, and don't fall victim to the trend of releasing homogenised mush that large games development houses churn out with nauseating frequency.
P.S. you can try it out before you buy it at their website here:
P.P.S I've just noticed that the game comes with the soundtrack supplied as well, and it's fab. Not only does it suit the cartoon pathos of the game's mood perfectly, it's also great to listen to in its own right. Strange electronica mingles with moody jazz, downbeat reggae is jumbled up with hip-hop beats and ethereal woodwind in bizarre clanking time signatures come in and out like steam escaping from the engine of the robot city. It's a bit like Miles Davis meets Frank Zappa, produced by DJ Shadow. Sort of.
Machinarium is a little gem of a game. I downloaded, played and completed it very quickly. It is one of the best point and click games I've played in a long time.
*What it is*
Developed and produced in 2009 by Amanita design. Machinarium is their first full length, point and click, one player, adventure game. I found this game by chance whilst scouring various game sites. looking for freebies. On reading the description of the game I decided this was a game I would enjoy and downloaded it. The game is for age 3+ although after playing it myself I think a young child would struggle with the different puzzles.
*A mechanical world*
The game is set in a special little mechanical world, you control a little metal fellow, who in the beginning you have to assemble in order to make your way through the various puzzles at each stage of the game. The game follows a story, which I think adds to the pleasure of the game, as your not left aimlessly wandering round for no reason. With each new stage comes a new problem/puzzle for you to work out, collecting items and rearranging things as you go through each stage of the game. Some of the puzzles are quite tricky and took me a while to work out, but no sooner had I realized what needed to be done, then I was off onto the next stage. The game gives you the option to save, load, change volume control, resume a previous game or start new and alter screen size. I found full screen to be the most effective accompanied by the eerie music and sound effects, you will find yourself totally absorbed in this lovely little game, as the game play is wonderfully smooth and runs like a dream.
The game has beautiful backdrops and very clever graphics throughout, the mystical music and eerie sound effects just add to the pleasure of the game, you can easily lose yourself in this lovely little game, that I'm sure would keep you, as it did me, captivated for hours. While playing I came across lots of little mechanical characters, some were friendly some not so friendly. I'd say that this little game is a point and click adventure game at it's best. I was truly amazed at how good the game actually was and on playing the game, decided that I would indeed have paid for it if I'd had to, I think I got a real bargain here with this game and if you think it may be your thing, then I'd say go for it, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
*No problems at all*
I didn't experience any glitches with the game or problems with downloading and installing. As it was a freebie from a free games download site, I was a little concerned that it may have arrived on my computer with some sort of unwanted virus, but no, all was well with my computer.
Amanita design have their own website, they are a small independent game developing studio, who are based in the Czech Republic, on their website you can checkout other games and projects by them. I did this after playing Machinarium because I was eager to see what else they had done. They have a few short games and one or two other projects that they are working on.
Machinarium won an award for excellence in visual art at the independent game festival 2009 and once you see it for yourself you will indeed see why, the game in my opinion, is a fabulous work of art and worth checking out if only for the beautiful art work that has gone into it.
*Where from, how much and would I recommend?*
Although currently sold out on the Amazon website, they are currently selling a collectors edition for PC and MAC for VISTA / XP at the price of £10.97. But failing that I'm sure if you hunt around, you would manage to find it. Unfortunately the site from which I downloaded the game, seems to have ceased to exist.
So I think I can say I would 100% recommend this beautiful little game, it's a joy to play, a joy to listen to and best of all it's a joy just to look at. Machinarium gets 5 stars from me because I can't fault it.
Thank you for reading my review which is also posted on Ciao
Innovation is the byword over at Amanita Design, the development centre of Machinarium. With Machinarium we are treated not only to a fantastic and taxing adventure game, but an adventure game like no other we've seen before. If it's possible to have a word like "genius" associated with video game design, I think now is the time to dust it off and switch it on.
~ [ Development ] ~
The game is very much a labour of love. Developed over the course of three years, financed by the game's developers themselves to the tune of $1,000, the small Czech Jakub Dvorský-led company dripped every ounce of free time and expertise they had into Machinarium, and it shows.
The game is built upon Adobe Flash, with the game's demo being an in-browser Flash game itself. You would never guess from playing the game that it is a Flash game, and it's probably the best implementation of Flash technology I've ever seen.
~ [ Plot ] ~
An abandoned and hated robot by the name of Josef, dumped in a scrapheap in the city of Machinarium's landfill, struggles to survive in the dystopian industrialised world from which he was rejected. He reassembles himself the best he can, and in the process discovers a plot to blow up the city's tower. The plotters, The Black Cap Brotherhood, are a band of villainous robots who've left a trail of misery in their wake, stealing from the other robots in the city and imprisoning Josef's girlfriend. Josef sets out to undo the damage caused, prevent the terrorist plot from reaching completion and rescuing his enslaved girlfriend.
~ [ Gameplay ] ~
Unlike games of its ilk Machinarium contains no dialogue whatsoever; all communication is carried out through the use of iconography and thought bubbles. The game revolves around the solving of puzzles or the winning of minigames. The first set of puzzles you must complete involve finding and reattaching missing body parts, and regaining access to the city from which you were exiled. Thereafter you will be wading your way through the rusted, industrialised game world solving logic puzzles and helping NPCs with their various problems, which invariably entails further puzzle solving.
The game mechanics are centred around the use of your computer mouse. You can stretch Josef several feet higher so that he can reach objects down from above, and vice versa. Interacting with objects and NPCs requires you to walk close enough to them for the action to be performed, otherwise Josef will simply give an irritated whine by way of disapproval. Many of the puzzles involve the combining of inventory objects or using objects with NPCs or the environment, objects which are picked up from the game's various levels. The minigame puzzles include tic-tac-toe (surprisingly one of the trickiest parts of the game), a sliding tile puzzle, a game of Space Invaders, join the dots, and so on. The minigames tend to be locking mechanisms for doorways or elevators, which offer access after the successful completion of the puzzle.
Most of the puzzles are solvable using logic, rather than guesswork or brute-force tactics (that is, using every object you have with every other one, hoping to accidentally nail a correct combination, which is something I've had to do with several adventure games in my time!). That said, the puzzles are generally far from easy. I mean, you can solve 5,000 calculus problems using logic but it ain't gonna be a cakewalk! I had to consult a walkthrough three or four times because I just couldn't get beyond a certain point, having already wasted an hour on a single problem and growing ever more frustrated. When I read the solution to the puzzle I was stuck on I slapped my forehead and said "of course!"; my advice to you is to pay close attention and concentrate on everything that's going on around Josef. And there's no shame in jotting down notes when you encounter a lengthy minigame puzzle which leaves you befuddled. Resist the urge to use walkthroughs unless you've really reached the end of your tether, because there is always a logical and workable solution staring you in the face. The game has a built in hint system which will give you a simple visual clue as to what you need to do next, although the hint given usually requires a degree of deciphering itself.
When you encounter a new NPC you'll be treated to a brief and intriguing thought bubble exposition of what they need, how they got there or what you have to do to progress. The Black Cap Brotherhood inevitably makes an appearance in these sequences. The lack of dialogue, and the use of imagery to convey meaning, is fantastic; it completely cuts out the often inane chatter adventure gamers are subjected to, and it gives you a strong and full understanding of the situation in a matter of seconds. I'm sure it's also a Godsend to deaf or hard of hearing gamers.
The gameplay feels fresh, despite the fact that pretty much every adventure game consists of the same elements. There's a certain innovative flavour to how these common elements are implemented, which belies their commonality. You get a real sense that you're participating in something new, unique and fascinating.
~ [ Graphics/Performance ] ~
One of the game's primary successes is its enthralling 2D visuals. Everything in the game is hand-drawn, and there's an immediate magnetism for that reason; you feel intrigued and sucked in by the effort and the detail.
The game's visuals are a rusted, mechanical, industrial-looking affair. Machinarium is a city of robots, for robots, by robots. The characters are all vastly different from each other, and this wide variation keeps the game feeling new and gives you an incentive to keep going. The backdrops are likewise varied and beautiful, in their own dilapidated depressed way. There is a certain bleakness about the game's world and story, and the graphics bolster this feeling in spades.
The minimum system requirements are as follows:
[Operating System]: Windows XP or later, Mac OSX 10.4 or later and Linux (the Linux version may or may not work, so try the free demo first)
[CPU]: 1.6GHz or better
[Hard Drive Space]: At least 380MB
You should note that the minimum screen resolution the game can be played at is 1024x768.
The game contains no DRM.
~ [ Soundtrack ] ~
The soundtrack consists of hypnotic, synth-mechanised passages which haunt and augment the game's decaying industrial levels. The soundtrack was written by Tomás Dvorák, a Czech gaming enthusiast who has also scored Amanita Design's other games, Samorost and Samorost 2. The full soundtrack, in MP3 format, is provided to customers who buy the game.
It adds to the strange and unusual character of the game, although I'm not sure how enjoyable it would be to listen to it separately; it's mainly an atmospheric, hypnotic, ambient massaging of the eardrums.
~ [ Buying ] ~
You can buy the game directly from the official website [http://www.machinarium.net/] or you can buy it through your favourite digital game distributor. Supported digital distributors include Steam, Direct2Drive, Impulse and GamersGate. The game is also available on CD at extra cost.
There is currently a collector's edition of the game which includes the game on disc, the soundtrack with five extra tracks, a booklet with exclusive concept art, a game poster and an official walkthrough. You can buy this from most online stores, including Amazon.co.uk and Play.com. Obviously this is more expensive than the standard game.
~ [ Conclusion ] ~
Machinarium is a success in every respect; in its gameplay, its graphics, its soundtrack, its story and its overall tone. Amanita Design have created a unique, otherworldly gaming experience with the perfect marriage of these attributes being integral to its character. Play the demo on the official website to get a taste of what the game is about, and then buy it.