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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Machinarium
By: | October 20th, 2009 | PC
PC |Review

Machinarium

In this cluttered, often overbearing world of video games, it is sometimes hard to imagine how anything unique and charming could be borne out of a medium that is sustained by sequels and clones.

Since its announcement, Machinarium has seen a host of Samorost faithfuls cling to every new press release or screenshot, and with good reason. Amanita Design has given us a diamond amongst a wealth of petty gems – even if it is a small one.

As soon as you start up Machinarium you will realize that this is not your average title. With only a single button on the main menu, you have no choice but to begin a new game in an entirely foreign land.

The hand drawn backgrounds and quirky machinery will hypnotize you with their beauty and depth, and there is nothing quite like immersing in a world that has been tenderly crafted.

Machinarium’s development took more than three years and was completed by a mere band of seven Czech developers; this game was a labor of love. With a budget of only $1,000, and an unorthodox twist on the puzzle genre, it is plain to see that this title would never have been picked up by a big publisher on proposal alone.

Machinarium

This point-and-click adventure will divide gamers from the moment you take control of the nameless protagonist. There are a couple of helpful hints to get you on your way, including a single hint for each puzzle, and a “use-only-if-you-must” walkthrough book. Other than that, though, you are left to your own devices to figure out what, when, where, and most importantly: why?

No background, no dialogue, and no clear purpose may frighten some gamers, but isn’t that what gaming is all about? A journey, a discovery, a new way to play games? Machinarium is what The Neverhood it intended to be.

As you progress through the levels, you will be fed tidbits of your character’s past through simple, yet elegant, thought-bubble flashbacks. Even without any dialogue, you will have no trouble understanding what has happened, and why you are doing what you are doing.

There are the standard bad guys, the escape vehicle, and of course, the damsel in distress, but the story is told in a way that is never dreary or mundane. Instead, there is something hauntingly beautiful about the way everything in Machinarium connects, and it ultimately drives you forward.

Machinarium

Amanita has managed to counter the flaw that most point-and-click puzzle games have by inserting both the Tip and Walkthrough features. Every single gamer will be playing Machinarium on the same “difficulty”, but how long it takes to complete, or how much satisfaction you wish to glean from the product is entirely up to you. Tips are presented in a thought-bubble format that will, more often than not, give you an idea of what you are supposed to do.

If you are an impatient gamer, however, or simply stuck, then you may decide to use the Walkthrough feature that will give you a step-by-step guide to completing each level. Don’t get too excited though; the developers have upped the frustration levels for anyone wishing to use the Walkthrough by forcing gamers to play through a repetitive, retro mini-game each and every time they wish to cheat.

There is a downside to this game, however, and I truly felt let down when I discovered it: length. For the first couple of hours, you will be adventuring through labyrinthine settings that all seem to be tangled amongst one another. You would hardly believe that the entire game could be so small or the story so short.

At only  six or so hours in length – depending on how you choose to complete each puzzle – Machinarium is a victim of its own intricacy. There is so much detail put into every facet of the game that it seems like Amanita simply couldn’t make it any longer. There is no doubt that the story ties itself up nicely, but I did get the feeling that I had passed over a few important pieces in my character’s tale.

Machinarium

Despite this fact, there is nothing that should deter you from picking up this game. What Machinarium offers is so incredibly distinctive that its length becomes a minor flaw, giving you the chance to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the workmanship involved.

There is nothing quite like Machinarium on the market at the moment. Not since The Neverhood, thirteen years ago, have I had my entire outlook on video games turned on its head. And if it’s another thirteen years before a game like Machinarium comes along, then at least I’ll know it was worth the wait.

Rating Category
10.0 Presentation
There is no doubt that the world of Machinarium is remarkable. No two characters look alike, and the setting has the ability to evoke emotions like no other. For a story about machines, it feels remarkably human.
How does our scoring system work?
9.5 Gameplay
Point-and-click is a genre that can never really evolve to a great extent, but Machinarium is able to give you enough challenges, story, and creativity to always feel intrigued.
10.0 Sound
Without dialogue, Amanita could have bombarded us with ridiculously “futuristic” music. Instead, they have managed to create a uniquely audible experience that never feels contrived.
7.5 Longevity
It’s an enthralling ride while it lasts, but, ultimately, the game is far too short. You probably won’t be going back for round two for at least a few months, either.
9.0 Overall
Machinarium is one of the best games of the year. It stands as a pillar of excellence for all independent developers, and will undoubtedly be revered for years to come.

  1. I started playing it for about an hour, and the only reason I stopped is because I had a massive migraine. It’s absolutely amazing, and reminds me of Goblins 3 old school adventure gameplay.

  2. I love the Tim Burtonesque styling!

  3. avatar zaracluster

    bought it, love it

    • avatar Hajime

      No se puede decir con respeto y agaivarr a alguien que es tan educado con sus comentaristas, pero siempre cae alguien ordinario que demuestra la bajeza de ciertas personas , salute! y sigue tomando tu amargo trago.

  4. I swear it’s on my to play list

  5. Probably the best thing about this site is that you guys review unknown games. I am grabbing this asap.

  6. @satsui
    We try to review anything under the sun!

  7. Awesome game, it may require a second play through by me.

  8. I have GOT to play this game. Great review Simon :-)

  9. avatar N. Rodrigues

    I’ve already played the game and loved it! It’s a shame about the short lenght though :( … Well, I guess I just have to play it again…
    When will we see Machinarium 2 ??? This one already got a place in my heart as one of the best games I’ve ever seen so far!

  10. @N. Rodrigues

    I’m not the biggest fan of sequels, especially with games like this. But let’s hope that the developers have plenty more ideas up their sleeves for future titles.

    • avatar Ariel

      I will immediately sntcah your rss as I can’t in finding your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  11. It’s an amazing game, truly.

  12. It looks very impressive, I might see if a demo comes out before I buy it though.

    • avatar Kay

      1. Yeah! The DLC is going to fill in DNA sequences 12 and 13, which were abnest from the main game. I loved AC2 and I will buy every piece of DLC they release for it because even after doing everything that can be done in the game I’m still craving more. That really ought to count for something.2. Machinarium is the most charming and inspired adventure game I’ve played since Grim Fandango. It’s wonderful.Personally, I wish Machinarium and AC2 could have made our top ten list, but there were two issues with that:1. Nobody else except for Aaron has played Machinarium, and he’s barely started it and couldn’t really ethically advocate for it; and2. While Tyler and I were both pushing hard for AC2, we didn’t complete it before we had met and agreed upon our top ten.We considered swapping out Left 4 Dead 2 in favor of AC2, but we decided we’d just include it in our personal lists with our own high praise of it. AC2 was one of my personal favorites of the year (as was Machinarium) but our list was meant to be a consensus, and I think we did as good a job of that as we’re able. :)

  13. “For a story about machines, it feels remarkably human.” So true.

  14. avatar Just finished it

    Marvellous puzzles, adorable characters with laugh out loud funny quirks, haunting soundtrack, jaw-dropping visuals, gorgeous game!

  15. avatar gersferr

    What`s Machinarium 2?

    • avatar Martin

      Hello John. Congratulations on the recent mioetslne you have achieved. I think that the Humble Bundle is truly a great way to address multiple fronts. My girlfriend actually went ahead to support your cause by buying the whole game package, and she loves Botanicula. I wish you luck on your future endeavors .

  16. avatar petermat

    It’s like every other game I have tried – I got stuck 2% of the way in. The difference here is that I can’t get past the help front end ‘game’ Total frustration.

    • avatar Louisa

      a) After writing stihoemng for BC, I think I understand why you are not so eager to continue contributing (since the compensation isn’t what one might call adequate).b) I really like the tactical shooter genre I was a big fan of the SOCOM series and it is with pride that I say that when the troops were under my control, I never lost a man in Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30.c) I’ve been playing quite a few games on Steam lately Mount & Blade, Half Life 2 and its episodes, Men of War (which is a brutally hard non-building WWII RTS game). Reply

  17. avatar Kat12

    It’s an adorable little game. The artwork is stunning, which is surprising considering the theme…machines in a machine world. Regardless, the game is beautiful.
    My only complaint is with the old style mini-games. I play point and click games because I cannot play the other style of game that requires eye-hand coordination. I can’t get past the point where the little robot needs to earn two coins by playing the old style video games. I had no trouble with game number 2, which requires thinking to solve, but I can’t get past game number 1, where I have to shoot the little aliens without getting shot. I have a perceptual disability where I perceive things to be a fraction of an inch away from where they usually are…it’s annoying in real life because I walk into doorframes, lol, but in the game world it means I can’t win those shooting style games no matter how hard I try. I simply cannot judge how close the bullets are to me properly, nor aim properly on such a small scale. I wish the makers of point and click games would allow a cheat to get past puzzles like this. I can’t finish the game.

    • avatar Sachin

      I can see that, I played thrgouh all of them so far and they were very enjoyable, now I’m unpatiently anticipating 8 I think it should be coming out pretty soon though, definitely sometime this year.

  18. avatar jruff

    @kat12. Use your left and right arrows on your keyboard. use mouse click ONLY to fire. kill all but one enemy on first screen. then just dodge the one enemy and shoot the ufo’s at the top(they’re worth more points). hope that helps.

  19. @Kat12

    That sucks, but like jruff said, try using your keyboard instead of your mouse. I played for several hours through this game before I realised that you can use your keyboard in the minigames as well. It makes those two retro machines at the end MUCH easier to complete.

    Hope you finish the game soon!

  20. avatar Kat12

    Thank you J Ruff and Simon! It worked! I just kept shooting the big thing at the top until I got enough points to win; woohoo!
    Kathy

  21. avatar foe3

    Just beat the game, My girlfriend and i played through the whole thing together and it was a lot of fun. I hope there is a sequel coming out.!!!!

  22. avatar MAtt

    excellent game , one of the best

  23. avatar Irv

    Excellent game!!!! AMAZING!!! INCREDIBLE!!! WAW!!! O.o

  24. avatar lucas camargo

    muita estratégia,muitos detalhes,muito bem feito..
    jogo perfeito!!

  25. avatar Fe

    One of the best games i´ve had ever played! And defenetliy, i played a lot!
    this kind of gameplay ist amazing. Lookinng forward machinarium 2!!

  26. avatar Horrible review

    This review is obtuse. It takes all the magic out of the game by over analyzing it. When it boils down to it all the complaints made by Simon Jones are all to do with the fact that the game is not like other games.

    It’s not a game as much as a window into the imagination of a very talented artist. I recommend everyone play it especailly those who don’t normally play video games.

  27. So… obviously you didn’t see the score is 9/10? This is a review, not an ass-kissing session. I took into account ALL facets of the game. I’m not here to suck up to the devs. They made a brilliant game – flawed, but brilliant.

    Comment fail.

  28. avatar Minority Records

    Hello,

    those of you who enjoyed Machinarium soundtrack might be interested in hearing that Machinarium 14 song soundtrack will be released in February by Minority Records (www.minorityrecords.com) in an edition of 555 hand-numbered LPs, 405 copies on black and 150 on clear yellow copies. Minor changes have been made in the track list: in comparsion to the official OST, there is new song “By the Wall” included, and the samba song (Prague radio) was left out.

    Each copy is signed by the author himself and contains three art reproductions by Adolf Lachman and coupon with a code to download both FLAC and MP3 versions of the songs, including the bonus EP.

    You can pre-order your copy now at Minority Records website (http://www.minorityrecords.com) and your copy will ship on February 20th.

  29. avatar Adrenaline

    The is One of the most artistic games Ive ever played. Tnx for review. But I cant win the man in the bar. Would u mind helping me plz. I know how to play but he is so smart.

  30. @Adrenaline

    Unfortunately, it really is a matter of skill and luck. There’s no “cheat” per se that can help you win, but trust that you will win at some point. On my first run through it took me about a dozen tries before I won, while on my second playthrough I won on my first go.

    Trust me, he WILL make a mistake. Your best bet is to place bolts far away from each other all over the board, so as the game progresses you will already have possible winning situations set up.

    Best of luck, and don’t give up!

  31. avatar Sturm Und Drang

    Point ‘n Click puzzles are HUGE FUN. This outstanding graphic game actually reminds me of and 80′s game that was equally fun to play and had great graphic’s in only vga quality and was called “Indiana Jones and the secret of atlantis”. It had similar difficult puzzles and was almost 25 years ago. But Machinarium is awesome and the soundtrack and graphics are unmatched! 10/10.

  32. avatar jofortune

    Great game and didn’t have to cheat too much – the bit with the owl on the wire took some doing – then someone on youtube suggested following the pace of the piston in the greenhouset NOT the bird or our robot hero – the wire cut in 4 seconds! Guess there will be a sequel ‘cos at the last credits you see our hero and girlfriend being carted off in different directions. Thanks for a beautiful game.

  33. avatar G-master

    great games!!!!

  34. avatar Rageinblack

    this game rules, but it’s absolutely too short

    • avatar Suvi

      How cool!!! MachinaruM really sodnus fun :D remembers me of the robot from Wizzard of Oz :) Did you play it?? what kind of puzzles do you face exactly when playing?VN:F [1.9.15_1155](from 0 votes)

    • avatar Vik

      Pues gracias por el aviso, jugue9 a la demo a trave9s de esta pe1gina y me enncatf3, pero me olvide9 totalmente de e9l, pero ahora que he visto la oferta, acabo de comprarlo ahora mismo (aunque tendre9 que terminar primero el Deadly Creatures mira que tiene fallos de ce1mara y parones, pero me enncata ser escorpif3n y tare1ntula!)

  35. avatar brilliant game

    Loved machinarium, such a beautiful game. Took alot of hours and brain power and was quite sad when it ended. PLEASE release a 2nd

  36. avatar Miguel

    heey, thaaanks!!! :D i think Samarost had a funenir story but Machinarium seems more difficult and i like this kind of puzzles. Everything these guys do is interesting, i’ll be keeping an eye on them.VN:F [1.9.15_1155](from 0 votes)

  37. avatar Charlene

    Nada, nada, pasa en las mejores fiialams, jajaja. A ver si cambiamos el disef1o (obviamente, es provisional) y empezamos un poco en serio, que queremos llegar a ser de esos bloggers que este1n siempre rodeados de fe9minas. Por que existen, bfno? xDDD

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