Machinarium Review

Machinarium is a beautiful, if moody, throwback to the days of point and click adventure games developed by Amanita Design. While the adventure game genre is experiencing a resurgence, Machinarium feels like something different even within that space. This Machinarium review seeks to see not only if the game is worthy of picking up where its predecessors left off, but whether the game was able to survive its transition from the PC to mobile platforms.

Type of Game Point and Click Adventure
Developer Amanita Design
Platforms Android, iOS
iTunes Download Page
Google Play Download Page
Free No

Your Mission

At its heart, Machinarium is a game about exploration and problem-solving. This isn’t a game of run and gun shooting or even massive character development. Hearkening back to something far older, Machinarium is a true throwback to when point and click games were difficult and players embraced challenges more fully. As this Machinarium review should show, there is far more to the journey when playing this game than there is to the conclusion. This game is an experience, one that you should savor for everything that it allows the player to experience.

Design & Graphics

Machinarium is a darkly beautiful game. Rendered in muted tones, the game is an absolutely gorgeous view of a world in ruins. There were many times in this Machinarium review when we had to pause the gameplay just to spend some time looking at the art. Fortunately, nothing was really dropped in the transition from the PC to the tablet. This isn’t a graphically complex game, per se, just one that’s lovingly rendered. While there’s something nice about getting to see the images on a bigger screen, you won’t lose anything if you are playing on a mobile device.

Where the game really shines is in design. This isn’t a game about twitch reflexes, but rather a game about pointing, clicking, and using your brain. Touch screen controls are perfect for this genre, to the degree that it’s surprising that more point and click games aren’t already available. There are a few puzzles in which the precision of the mouse would be nice, but they are few and far between.

This is about as good as it gets when a game makes a mobile transition. There are no control problems, there are no graphical problems, and everything about the game is preserved. At this point, it’s fairly easy to recommend the mobile version over the PC version for simple portability.

Main Characters

One thing that almost any Machinarium review will leave out is that the story really involves a character in it. While Josef is a bit of a cypher, he’s got real motivations. You just have to pay attention to the game to figure out what’s going on. Most of what you’ll deal with will be in silence, so stringing things together does take a fair bit of work. It’s worth it, though, if you want to get to know your character.

Nothing about Josef changes in the transition to mobile, and that’s a good thing. He’s an adorable little robot, one for whom you can’t help but feel a bit bad. His design is clearly meant to provoke an emotional response, as it is true of all the other characters in the game. While perhaps not at the Disney-Pixar level of expressiveness, you can tell quite a bit about this little robot from how he reacts to the situations in which he finds himself.

He’s one of the better player analogs in the point and click world. And he manages to be that way despite a lack of dialog. He’s no Guybrush Threepwood, but he’s still charming in his own way.

Storyline

Moving forward in our Machinarium review, we found the plot of the game to be cute, but ultimately forgettable. There’s a story here involving criminals, an imprisoned girlfriend and a bit of a conspiracy, but it’s not important. What’s important is that every bit of the story brings you to one more puzzle.

The puzzles are what matters here, and it shows. The story is perhaps even a bit trite, but every puzzle’s design denotes obvious love. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that there is a legitimate way to get through every puzzle. Even though some are a bit harder than one might expect.

In fact, the puzzles are hard enough that Machinarium comes with a built-in walkthrough. You do have to play through a minigame to access it. But it can be invaluable for players who aren’t familiar with the genre. There is also a hint mechanic available for those who need a little nudge but who don’t want to have the entire puzzle spoiled for them.

Machinarium can feel unfair at times, as some of the puzzles are a bit of a pixel hunt. With that said, it’s still leaps and bounds above some of the games from which it draws inspiration.

Final Thoughts

In our Machinarium review we found the game to be charming, difficult, and ultimately the very definition of what a mobile port should be. It controls well, looks great, and will give anyone who plays it a fantastic chance to enjoy a near-dead genre. There are more games like this that beg for a port. And hopefully, the continued success of Machinarium will bring more of the genre to mobile platforms. Did you enjoy Machinarium? Then take a look at our I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream review, for more throwbacks to a different time in gaming. Were you able to solve the puzzles without looking at the guide? Let us know by leaving us a comment.

Share This Post:

Add Comment