Machinarium: Its Appeal Is No Puzzle

machinariumOn Sunday I spent literally half a day playing a game I’d previously never heard of: Machinarium.  Available for Windows, Mac and Linux, it’s half puzzle game, half adventure story, and all fun.

I don’t want to spoil the plot of the game, but essentially you’re a small robot in an industrial world, solving puzzles to navigate your way higher and higher through a city until… well, you’ll see.  There’s no dialogue in the game, but occasional cartoon-like thought bubbles provide the plot more than adequately.

The first thing that struck me about this game was how beautiful it was.  See that image over there?  That’s not concept art – that’s how it looks, the entire way through.  Machinarium feels like you’ve fallen into the pages of a storybook – and as someone who used to place dollhouse dolls on the pages of her books as a child, it’s much appreciated.

When I think about it, I don’t have the greatest track record for puzzle games.  As a child I loved games like Seventh Guest, but would inevitably hit a wall of frustration.  While there were certainly moments of staring blankly at the screen in Machinarium, it was not nearly so frustrating – in fact, for the most part, it’s quite intuitive.  I played it with a partner (something I highly recommend; two minds are better than one) and the two of us constantly asked one another, “Well, why don’t we try this?” or “What could we do with that?”

In a move to lure pirates into actually buying their game, Machinarium currently costs around $5 to download (but on Aug 12 that ends).  In my opinion it’s well worth the half-day+ of entertainment.  I didn’t know about this Pirate Amnesty sale until I’d already bought the game, but now I’m glad I had the added bonus of supporting an independent game developer.  There’s a demo you can try – and, if you’re like me, it will be more than enough to get you hooked.  I might even play it again, on my own, just to immerse myself in that gorgeous world again.

Have any of you tried Machinarium?  What are your thoughts?  And are there similar games I should try (I’ve already played and love Braid)?

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