Some days ago I was writing about how happy I felt after having finished Tales of Monkey Island, a game that reminded me of the Golden Age of adventure games. I was so satisfied that I decided to choose another graphic adventure (which by the way has been receiving great critiques) as my next game to play: Machinarium.
First of all, it's interesting to mention that in the gaming world a new phenomenon is happening: due to the conception that videogames are art, an indie panorama has emerged, not so different to that that we already had in cinema, or music: games with low budget that may lack of spectacularness in exchange for other unusual aspects. These unusual aspects are usually aesthetic, and that's the reason why we have recently seen different indie games with the same look, which may remind us of the New Age. Machinarium is the epitome of this movement: an impressive artistic design, a mediocre engine and the game itself doesn't offer anything new.
The first time you play the game, you'll be impressed by how great it looks, the impressive level of detail, the amount of work put in the animations and how charming everything looks. After some minutes, you may even like the game: you have only faced two or three puzzles that consisted in combining some objects in your inventory. Then, you may encounter your first actual puzzle, which will probably be easy and even fun.
But that puzzle will only be the first of more than a dozen, that will increase in difficulty, which will be proportional to your frustration. As I said, this is nothing new. Machinarium can be considered as a revision of the game Gobliiins(1991). At that time, the was defined as a "succession of puzzles with not too much sense lacking of dialogues". How ironic. That defines what I think of Machinarium.
The first problem of this puzzles is that we have been solving in (bad) graphic adventures for quite some time. The second problem is that they don't have any connection with the actual story of the game. This certainly won't help increasing the fluidity of the game and our empathy towards it.
I won't identify the length of the game as a problem. It took me roughly 5 hours to finish the game and, to be honest, I just wanted to forget about all those puzzles, see how the story ends and move on. An ending that, by the way, was disappointing.
This game could lead to an interesting discussion about the indie movement. It looks like indie games are becoming like indie music: hype lasts for some months, nobody can question these games without the risk of being called "insensitive" by those who praise their originality... and after some year nobody will remember them. By looking at how these games are now famous and standard, we can only confirm that indie videogames have became mainstream.