Machinarium, by Amanita Design
Download (Paid): http://amanita-design.net/games/machinarium.html
Amanita Design creates some of the finest point-and click adventure games out on the net, not to mention beautiful artwork. Of those games, Machinarium shines with its hand-drawn artwork, its charming characters and its adorable environment.
The art direction took a big turn in Machinarium since its (also popular) forerunner Samorost. Samorost is charming in its own way, with its humor radiating from collage-inspired art and a rather random arrangement of scenes; Machinarium instead is 100% drawn and there is a sense of a continuous environment, where players feel they are given various snapshots of different perspective rather than a set of distinct “stages”.
The story of Machinarium involves around world of discarded robots, and the place’s “used” feeling is expressed well by the brown-and-grey color and excessive pen shading that fills every area. The player, as a male (?) robot, must find its girlfriend who was kidnapped by some evil and (initially unknown) dark force.
But however dark the storyline and the setting seems, the game never loses its jocular atmosphere. This is probably made possible by the cartoonish and absolutely charming characters. In contrast to the sense of uniformity the term holds, each “robot” is unique, with distinct expression and build–the process of meeting new robots is exciting in itself.
But we cannot leave out all the puzzles in this game, can’t we. Before I start I would like to mention that I’m not a big fan of point-and-click genre itself; despite its artistic benefits, slow gameplay and limited interactivity is in the genre’s nature. Hovering over every single space just to figure out what can be clicked is highly time-consuming and annoying.
Yet, the puzzle elements are well-executed. While it can be extremely difficult to figure out exactly what CAN be clicked and exactly what goal you have to achieve, puzzles themselves are reasonably clever. There is a feeling of accomplishment after completing each stage. But sometimes, puzzles can get frustrating to death, so the game even provides an in-game walkthrough:
which can only be accessed via completing an easy-enough mini-game, giving the players time to contemplate whether he/she really needs help.
Overall, as Amanita Design’s first full-length game, Machinarium is outstanding and visually stunning. Even if you’re not a fan of point-and-click games you’ll definitely have a pleasant time playing this one.
Amanita’s next plant-inspired game, Botanicula, noticeably leans towards computer-based graphics. Would it still retain the charm of hand-drawn Machinarium? Play to find out: