Updated review: Machinarium (2009)

IMG_2303.JPGCreator: Jakub Dvorský of Amanita Design
Language: mostly gibberish with some on-screen instructions in English
Finished on: 23 Sep 2014

I guess I don’t do such reviews as this particularly often, where it’s something I’ve already reviewed on here. I can’t remember what I wrote about Machinarium the last time I played, but then that was about three years ago, so I don’t exactly expect to. I can at least say that it had a lasting impact on me and I liked it enough to want to play it again.

I actually picked this up again because I discovered that you can download it for the iPhone. Thus, I want to make a few comments about the iPhone port just now. Point and click games like this are very suitable for a touch-screen interface, but I think I need to specify that more clearly as something with a bigger screen than an iPhone. Maybe a tablet would be good.

It’s a minor nitpick I suppose, but furthermore, the programming on this app was faulty, as it had a “pinching” function to zoom in and out, but pinching your screen would also make you randomly click on things. In this game, it never really makes a difference, because you can’t accidentally kill yourself or make the game impossible to win, but it was annoying.

As for the game structure, it is awfully linear; even when your robot comes into an open area where it looks like you can make a variety of choices, there is basically only one route open. Then he throws away any item he no longer requires, which I found boring because it means that he can’t collect up that many items just on the offchance that they would be used later in the game.

One more minor complaint is that it’s probably impossible to ever come back to this game fresh, that is, without knowing what is coming next. The linearity and non-randomness of the game means that there is no staying power to it. I can’t play the game again and have the same reaction as I did the first time. It’s still enjoyable, though. Also, all that said, I had still forgotten the solutions to several of the puzzles.

The mini games also suffer from a related problem, which is that they’re too short. Some would make interesting games in their own right. As it is, it’s eclectic and a little frantic.

I should stop criticising the game so much, though. It’s making me look like I hated the game, which couldn’t be further than the truth. I always think it can only be a compliment if the main criticism one has of something is to say it didn’t last long enough. The game is very engrossing and addictive, I really like the illustration and the characters, and I think it deserves to be played by more people.

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