Thursday, July 12, 2012

Machinarium [Amanita Games] - $4.99

Point & Click Adventure games have never really been a favorite of mine. Until lately. Bulkypix release, Yesterday and Cyan World’s realMyst definitely peaked my interest. But not until I had the extreme pleasure of experiencing Amanita Design’s amazing game, Machinarium, did I actually think that I could become a huge fan of Point n Click titles. 

The first thing I noticed when starting up the game, was the fantastic graphics. The beautiful, amazing, mind-blowing, hand-drawn graphics are outstanding. And the way that the movable objects and computer graphics interact with the hand-drawn graphics is simply stunning. The animations are spectacular, and coupled with the music and sound effects, it all creates one incredible atmosphere, and portrays a great deal of emotion throughout the game. If you’re curious, the game is an exact port of the PC/MAC and PS 3 versions. 

Starting off, your character, Josef, is tossed into a dump. You’ll need to collect pieces of your body before you can move on. As you’ll quickly realize, there is no dialogue, or long text to read through. Everything is portrayed in thought bubbles with action sequences. This leaves basically all of your gameplay time free for solving puzzles and exploring the environments, which you will do a lot of. Machinarium has your typical search and collect mechanics, but also has you solving puzzles across environmental areas, as well as combining inventory items and mini-games. But it’s all brought together in such an incredibly flowing motion, that you’re never taken out of the immersion of the game. 

Now, I’ll quickly admit that I haven’t had the pleasure of playing many Point & Click games, but from what I have played, the puzzles that you need to complete in Machinarium are incredibly creative, and at times, can be fairly difficult to figure out, and some of them can seem downright unfair. Even with other titles within the puzzle genre, I’ve never come across this level of difficulty. However, not once did it become difficult to the point that it was frustrating. If anything, the difficulty ended up driving my addiction and love for the game every step of the way. 
If it does get frustrating, there are actually two different hint systems available. Tapping the question-mark in a bubble will give you a pop-up thought bubble nudging you towards the next item you’ll need to pick up. The other hint system is a sort of walkthrough. You’ll need to first complete the mini-game in order to open the walkthrough ‘book’, and then each move that you need to make in order to complete the game is drawn out for you. However, going through all of this to get to the walkthrough is enough to keep you from going to it, and it does kind of ruin the game if you keep going to it over and over again. But it’s there if you need it, so there’s not going to be one spot where you get stuck and just end up not completing the game, which is great.

The story isn’t immediately clear when you start up the game, but as you progress, and find out that you’re not alone, and that this machine world is full of quite a few different robots and machine-beings, all with different personalities of their own, all expressed and conveyed in a way that everyone and anyone, no matter their past, cultural background, or language, can completely understand and feel comfortable with knowing what it going on with all of them. And as you progress, and get to know and help these other robots throughout the world, the story opens up, and your main objective becomes clear. 

I can not recommend Machinarium enough. Especially if you’re a fan of Adventure or Point & Click games, but even if you’re not. This is one title that has a very good potential of turning you into a fan of the genre. Priced at $4.99, it’s an incredible buy. Not many iOS games even come close to being on the same graphical level, and there’s very few titles that come close to being as immersive and entertaining as Machinarium. It’s a must-own game for everyone who has an iPad, and I hope that Amanita Design decides to port over more of their titles to the iOS. We’d be lucky to have them available to us. 


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