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PC/Mac Game Review: Machinarium

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Machinarium is a delightful little gem of a game that I almost missed completely when it first came out in late 2009. In fact had it not been featured in the Apple App Store a month or so ago I most likely would have continued on my merry way ignorant of its existence. I’m very glad I did spot it however because never having visited the charming dilapidated city that is the game’s setting or its equally magnificent characters would have been a tragedy!

You see I normally stick to the Playstation 3 universe when it comes to games and leave my iMac for all my other computing needs and so Machinarium never really made it onto my radar. Fortunately it did make it on to that of plenty of others and has even managed to earn itself some well deserved awards which pleases me to no end.

Machinarium is a point-and-click, puzzle solving, adventure game set within an extraordinarily beautiful almost steam punk-styled city that has seen much better days. Your guide through this unnamed place is a little robot who we first meet after he is unceremoniously dumped outside its walls onto a scrap heap where you literally need to pull yourself together.

The world of Machinarium

Upon gaining re-entry into the city you encounter the dastardly trio of baddies called the Black Cap Brotherhood and embark upon a mission to foil their evil plans and rescue your robot girlfriend. Standing in your way are some really great puzzles ranging from the quick forehead slapping “of course!” conundrums right up to the lateral thinking stumpers that will drive you to distraction until you sit bolt upright in the middle of the night with a eureka moment.

Personally I’m not normally a puzzle game kind of guy but it is very hard to not be charmed by the graphics and the characters in Machinarium and I do love robots and this style. All of the backgrounds have been lovingly crafted to add character and depth to the locations and despite being a 2D game you get a real sense of being engulfed in the city.

The music adds to the atmosphere and helps form this universe with it’s subtlety and quirky tones. At times the music conjures up innocence and wonder and then will conjure up hilarity with equal effectiveness.

The characters never actually speak throughout the game, rather you see their stories through images in speech bubbles. It’s surprisingly effective and for added depth if you leave your character doing nothing for a short period he will recount stories from his life before this current predicament.

As I mentioned I’m not really much of a fan of puzzle games, I generally get too frustrated with them despite growing up with Sierra games such as Space Quest, King’s Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry, all games that would eventually evolve into point-and-click games and feature puzzles. So it was very nice to feel inspired enough to want to solve the puzzles on my own and being interested enough in the story to overcome that aversion.  Playing this was like being reminded of the enjoyment that I used to get out of those adventure games from my childhood and it makes me wonder if I shouldn’t go out and try to track down some copies to play.

If you are looking something that looks amazing, has a sweet story to it and is genuinely fun to play then I can recommend Machinarium, unless of course you hate robots and if that’s the case then what kind of fun are you anyway?

Machinarium is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief, Use of Tobacco. This game is slated for release on PS3 and Wii.

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About Lee Sargent