Machinarium is a fun puzzle game, but it’s not without its problems. The art style is great, and the gameplay is good, but it’s a little bit hard. It’s not a good kind of hard; it’s hard in a cryptic way. The story really isn’t enough to keep you going either. Even though it is kind of hard to get through, you can still have some fun with some of the more fun puzzles.
Machinarium is a point and click adventure game; a genre which I usually enjoy playing. It controls very well, and there are many ways to control on the Vita. You can use the front or back touchscreens, or you can control it using the analog stick. All three ways are very fluent, and the game is really easy to control.
The game is simple enough at the beginning, and only require a little of thinking to get through. By the third puzzle though, things start getting very, very hard. In that puzzle, you need to get past a police guard. He doesn’t let you through if you are in uniform; a white hat with a light bulb on top. You find a cone to use as a hat, that part is not that hard. You dip it in a white paint bucket, and there’s our white hat. Now you have to get the light bulb. You can climb up the pole, but it’s missing a rung. This is only a one screen puzzle, so there aren’t many places to look. I wandered around for about 10 minutes, only to realize that I could throw away the other cones, to find a rung to put on the pole. I don’t know if this is my deductive reasoning failing on me, or if this game is just too cryptic. Compared to the other puzzles late in the game, this one isn’t even that hard. For some people, figuring out these impossible puzzles might be super fun, but for some reason I only got past a few on my own without using clues.
I think Machinarium knows how hard it is, because it gives you two forms of clues you can look at in the game; the one-time clue and the walkthrough book. The one-time clue is self-explanatory; it’s a clue that can be used one time. However, these are always very vague, and don’t really give you a great sense of where to go. The walkthrough book is a great source, but it is always a pain in the neck to use. First off, the game makes you do a little side scrolling shoot ‘em up to just get into the book. Then, it gives you a picture by picture walkthrough of what you need to do on that screen. There is one thing that really makes it hard to use, though. Let’s say you walk into the bar part of the main square to do part of a puzzle. You open the book with the mini-game, and realize you have to walk out to get something you forgot. If you go back into that bar again, you have to do the mini-game over again. It gets extremely repetitive, and for those multi-screen puzzles, it’s an absolute pain in the neck.
Even though most of the puzzles are really hard, some of them are still fun, like the games in the arcade level, and other little, fun puzzles scattered throughout the game. They gave my brain a well-deserved break, and were a lot more creative than the cryptic point and click puzzles in the base of the game. I probably enjoyed the mini puzzles more than the actual game, because the mini puzzles were not as cryptic, and easier to understand.
The art and ambiance of the whole game was stunning. The characters in the foreground were all designed beautifully, and the backgrounds and buildings are pretty as well. The story was okay; there really was nothing to it. The little robot you play as is trying to find his girlfriend and he is dealing with some “bully robots” along the way. I wish there was more to the story, but that’s not the reason people would want to play this game, so it probably wasn’t the priority.
Machinarium is an okay point and click adventure with a great art style and some fun mini puzzles, but along with that comes a so-so story and some really hard, cryptic puzzles. If you enjoy extremely hard point and click adventures, you’ll probably get some fun out of Machiarium.