• Machinarium


  • Graphic Adventure


  • Amanita Design


  • Amanita Design

Release Date:

  • October 16 2009
    (computer versions, portable ports came later)


  • Mac OS X, Windows, PS3, iPad, PS Vita

Box Art Credit:

  • Wikipedia

Systems Used:

  • Mac OS X


  • Adobe Flash

On Wikipedia:

My "reviews" for games are based on if I liked them or not, but if I rated games for solely graphics and sound, Machinarium would win five stars. The graphics are 2D but they look magnificent with their hand-drawn backgrounds, and the sound/music is both atmospheric and subtle, as you can even hear Josef's feet move along very softly. Back up...how does it play? Who is Josef? What type of game is it? Well, first off, Machinarium, in the most literal sense, is a Flash game. It's not one on Kongregate or whatever, and doesn't even push the frame rate the processor starts screaming (which is usually what happens when I play some online Flash game, with Happy Wheels one such game). So the engine is a bit of a problem, but what really makes Machinarium a bit of a drag sometimes is its puzzle mix, as it is one of those classic point-and-click adventure games with inventories and different screens, made famous by Sierra and LucasArts. The item-mixing usually makes a lot of sense, no "moon logic" here. For example, in one puzzle, you're in a prison cell. There's a sewer lid, a rusty pipe with a handle and a bit of slimy grass growing on the moisture, a light, a toilet, toilet paper, a hole too small to fit into, and a robot in need of a cigarette. What do you do? The solution is to remove the handle and the slimy grass, put the slimy grass on the light to dry it out, combine it with the toilet paper to make a cigarette to give it to the robot, and using his arm he lends you, extend it to a nearby cell to grab a broom, then use the broom and handle to escape through the sewers.

It's puzzles like this that would make this game great, but unfortunately, it's not all like that, as there a number of puzzles that pull up a larger view to solve, like three turning circles to make the inner circle green (hint: try putting the red on the outside instead of green on the inside), a variation on the sliding block puzzle, one that just basically required trial-and-error/guesswork to solve (one fairly early into the game), and one instance of a hair-pulling gomoku game that ruined the game for at least one person (of all the things in the game, that was one of the more frustrating puzzles that couldn't be fixed with a walkthrough).

Click here for the full high resolution version.

Keeping that in mind, this was one of the Humble Indie Bundle games, which were pretty uneven in whether I really liked them or not as games as a whole. Things like Osmos (which I wrote a review for) and And Yet It Moves were not that great in the end, but unlike "took an innovative concept and ran into the ground", Machinarium at least carries on to the end, with the story being told through visuals and minor sound effects, with the introduction to the villains as being simple bullies, though through the storyline their true treachery is revealed. Only by the end do you find out how the story begins, when our hero is dumped into a landfill. On my second play through (when I was once again thwarted by puzzles, though I at least used the built-in walkthrough less), I found that the bomb the Black Cap Brotherhood placed on the tower seemed to be filled with only a cartload of a small purplish fruit, which makes Josef's extreme panic a bit exaggerated, since he saw the whole process (though the whole tower explodes with such force, you'd think it's C-4). Another thing I noticed was the stereotypical Jewish robot, which was amusing and one of those things you have to pay attention to notice.

It's the brutal number of "game" puzzles that do harm the game as a whole, I feel that if it were simple action puzzles (well, except for the puzzle with the fan, that was pretty cool), using your inventory and your wits, it would make Machinarium better overall, as otherwise the frustrating elements like the circular green thing, the trial-and-error one with the wires, and the gomoku game just pad the game out, and does nothing. There are many other hair-pulling puzzles in Machinarium that will likely require a walkthrough if you don't want this game to last you for months. Despite the very uneven difficulty, it still never made me as frustrated as that stupid memory game from Eric the Unready, and still emerges as one of my favorite games of 2011 (and there was a lot to pick from that year, although admittedly I finished Machinarium after I started and beat Beneath a Steel Sky). Oh yes, and to the answer to "Who is Josef?" is the robot player character, though it's one of those "all in the manual" type things.

September 5 2015