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Game Reviewed: Machinarium
Publisher: Amanita Design
Developer: Amanita Design
Category: Graphic adventure
ESRB Rating: E
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Machinarium is a seemingly simple game at first glance. The game is just a point and click adventure, the hero is a small robot, the visuals do not jump out from the screen. In fact, everything within the game is hand drawn. But herein lays the beauty of this exquisite little game. Machinarium is an independent game from Amanita design. It was made possible by the personal contributions of its developers, and a meager budget that was laid out for marketing. Even so, this game has garnered very positive reviews. After playing it, it did not take long to see why.
The game starts out with a small robot dumped into the middle of a junk pile. He is missing a few pieces, so you must help him. You use the mouse to click various objects on the screen. You hand them to the robot. You must then decide exactly what to do with these pieces. (Is that an arm or a leg?) Once he has been rebuilt, it continues on his way. You use the environment and the objects around the robot to solve puzzles and advance to the next area. That is all there is to it! Point and click, no breakneck speeds, no frantic fighting; logic, observation, and problem solving are truly the only skills needed for this game.
What Parents Need To Know
There are no spoken or written words. The entire story is conveyed through subtle hints and thought bubbles. Some of these thought bubbles show bullies shoving around our robot hero. One of the puzzles includes electrocuting a robotic cat. It does not die, though; it merely stuns him for a while. In a simple side game you shoot small spiders. This is not graphic in any way.
As mentioned in the violence section, everything is told through thought bubbles. There is no foul language here.
Machinarium is clean in terms of this. The only thing shown was our robot hero holding hands with his girlfriend, and it was in the most innocent sense possible.
At one point in the game a robot goes to church.
One scene shows the robot sitting on a toilet. In a thought bubble, the robot is seen smoking a cattail.
Machinarium is without a doubt one of the best games I have played in the past few years. It was released in October, but has remained relatively under the radar since its release. The few who have played it, though, are very lucky indeed. I was fortunate enough to join the ranks.
It is an amazing puzzle game that has some very difficult problems to solve. I found myself turning to a walkthrough on more than occasion after I had been staring at the same scene for half an hour. It never felt frustrating, though; rather, you wanted to play for as long as you needed to figure out the puzzle. Also, the game has a walkthrough built in. You simply play a simple side game and a set of pictures will give you clues as to how to solve problems.
In terms of visuals, I meant what I said earlier: nothing jumps out at you. Instead, it pulls you in. The entire game is hand drawn in muted tones, and every scene was crafted with beautiful, meticulous detail. It was worth playing an extra five minutes just to see what the next part of the level looked like. I found Machinarium to be an amazing game and I would highly recommend it.