By Marty Mulrooney
Machinarium is an award-winning indie point-and-click adventure game created by Amanita Design, a small independent game developing studio based in the Czech Republic. Originally released in 2009 on PC (AMO’s original review described it as “a unique, original adventure”), the game has since been released for iPad 2, BlackBerry PlayBook and Android devices. On the 6th September 2012, Machinarium was finally released on the PlayStation Network in Europe.
Amanita Design perfectly sums up the story of Machinarium with a single paragraph on its website: “Machinarium is our first full-length adventure game in which players take on the role of a robot who has been exiled to the scrap heap. Players must use logic, collect important items, and solve environmental puzzles to get the robot back into the city of Machinarium so he can rescue his robot-girlfriend, save the head of the city, and defeat the bad guys from the Black Cap Brotherhood.”
The basic storyline of Machinarium plays second-fiddle to the experience of progressing throughout the unique world provided, soaking in a plethora of quirky sights and sounds. The music, which was written, composed, mixed and produced by Tomáš Dvořák, is a constant delight, setting the tone perfectly. Machinarium isn’t quite your traditional point-and-click adventure game either – there is no dialogue to be found and the puzzles can often be downright fiendish.
That isn’t to say that the puzzle design isn’t accomplished – it is. Despite the high difficulty, most of the environmental puzzles are a joy to tackle and figure out. However, the game stumbles slightly whenever trial-and-error is involved – and the various slider puzzles, space-invaders style shoot-outs and fiendish locking mechanisms may put some players off entirely. There is a hint system, but the developers don’t just hand it to you – you have to work for it every time by completing an arcade-style mini-game first.
Thankfully, the game makes up for any frustrations with an abundance of charm. For an indie game with a budget of $1,000, Machinarium is a visual delight. The 2D graphics rival those of many big budget adventure games and the art design is second to none. In truth, not much has changed since Machinarium was released in 2009. If you didn’t play the game upon release, you should check out AMO’s original review – the content is the same for all versions.
So, what’s new for Machinarium on PlayStation 3? The controls. They’ve been overhauled to work better with a gamepad (of course, it’s hard to improve on playing with a mouse) and the result is a surprisingly effective control scheme. The left stick moves the cursor and hotspots are ‘magnetic’ – this means the cursor will snap to areas of interactivity. The right stick makes our robot hero extend his body up/down. The shoulder buttons (L1/L2 and R1/R2) allow the player to zoom in – a new feature that is a fantastic addition. The X button is the ‘use’ command and the Square button jumps the cursor directly to the inventory at the top of the screen. It’s a great control scheme that, whilst not perfect, comes closer than most adventure games on consoles.
Amanita Design has described this version of Machinarium as the “ultimate version” of the game. Using a gamepad will never replace mouse controls of course, but the PlayStation 3 exclusive zoom feature is superb and actually adds to the experience of playing. So, is Machinarium (PSN) better than the PC person? Not quite – but it can certainly be considered its equal and offers the perfect opportunity for PlayStation 3 gamers to discover what all the fuss is about. Machinarium is still a great indie adventure game three years after release and should not be missed by point-and-click fans, whether they prefer gaming with a gamepad or mouse.
8 OUT OF 10