Machinarium Hands-On

We got our hands on a preview build of Amanita Design's absolutely gorgeous new point-and-click adventure.

32 Comments

The question of whether video games are an art form can, perhaps, be answered by Amanita Design's Machinarium. The independent developer is famous for its work on Web-based flash games--Samorost and Samorost 2-- and Machinarium shares a very similar visual style with those games. However, Machinarium has a unique identity of its own, along with classic point-and-click gameplay and fiendish puzzles.

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You play as a robot that is thrown out to a scrap yard outside the robotic city he once lived with the aim of finding your way back into the city to rescue your robot girlfriend. The questions of why she disappeared, who the mysterious bad guys are, and why you've been thrown out of the city are answered throughout the course of the game. A unique twist to this is that the game contains no actual dialogue--instead a thought bubble appears above a character's head with a series of images or animations to represent what's going on inside his head. The bubbles not only tell you what a character is thinking, but they also give you clues about how to solve a puzzle. For example, in one scene, you must make your way across a bridge; however, it is guarded by a police robot. Upon trying to cross it, a thought bubble forms with a little animation showing other police robots crossing but no one else, which gives you a clue on how to proceed.

This simple clue sets up the classic point-and-click gameplay. The solution is to somehow dress up as a policeman by collecting and combining items, with the mouse turning into a pointy finger to indicate interactability. Items that can be picked up or interacted with are signified by the mouse turning into a pointy finger. Unlike some easier point and clicks, however, items that can be used do not stick out like a sore thumb from the background; they blend in with the environment. It can take some real brain power and an eagle eye to pick out relevant objects. In contrast, the game never asks you to horde items from other areas in the game to solve future puzzles; instead, it runs on a screen-to-screen basis. All the items required to solve a puzzle are generally found in the immediate vicinity, making each scene its own puzzle. Even later sections of the game that are spread out around the robot city are condensed so that you're only concentrating on a few goals at a time. That concentration is needed because some of the puzzles are fiendishly difficult and require a lot of logical thinking.

If you do get stuck, the game has a hints system. Clicking on a lightbulb at the top right of the screen produces a thought bubble that contains the hint of what you're supposed to be doing in that particular scene. If that's not enough, the game contains a full walk-through for each section that can be accessed at anytime. In an effort to discourage you from simply opening the walk-through each time you get stuck, it is locked by a short minigame where you have to guide a small pixellated key through a side-scrolling world while avoiding spiders and brick walls to reach a lock. If you manage to unlock the lock, a book opens up to reveal the solution to the puzzle via what looks to be the beautifully drawn original storyboard sketches.

  The level of detail in the game is astonishing.
The level of detail in the game is astonishing.

It wouldn't be right to delve into this game without mentioning the graphics and artwork. They are really something to behold. Each scene in the game is hand drawn, with detail reaching ridiculous levels. Every nook and cranny in the robotic city has a distinct look with a dark macabre feel. While these backdrops would look mightily impressive even as static images, they're brought to life with great animation--cleaning robots go about their daily business on pipes, senile old robots rock around in wheelchairs, and bartender robots with lightbulb eyes wipe down oil bars. The buildings in the distance resemble pencil sketches in some places as the structures lose detail to melt into the smog of the city. The sound design is also great with robotic beeps and rusty movements melding beautifully with the electronic soundtrack.

We can't wait to get our hands on the finished game, and the combination of gorgeous graphics and well-designed puzzles have left us very excited about where the game will go. Machinarium is due out in October and will be published via Machinarium.com.

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Avatar image for AndrewSBarker
AndrewSBarker

Downloaded the demo. Completed it. Preordered it straight away. Fantastic visuals and beautiful music and a real sense of humour. This has all the hallmarks of a classic game. I can't wait for the full version.

Avatar image for westernomelette
westernomelette

looks interesting, i hope comes out on steam

Avatar image for hotstonez
hotstonez

Attractive and inventive game with simple but fun puzzles. Looks like a winner to me.

Avatar image for Big_Bang159
Big_Bang159

looks....different :) cant wait!

Avatar image for kbpeople
kbpeople

Can't wait!!!

Avatar image for halox32
halox32

Nice . but I fink it's to hard for play

Avatar image for wonzan
wonzan

I shall most certainly be playing this game. I just hope it stays in my mind or I'll forget all about it! Games like this never get much coverage so I won't exactly have many reminders.

Avatar image for Vasot
Vasot

Meh

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questclub

i played Samorost. It's a really good and imaginative game although music was always the weak point. Looking forward to this one.

Avatar image for TheFrostWolf
TheFrostWolf

This Looks gorgeous! the music is so sad :( It makes me feel like walking the street in the rain and listen to radiohead....

Avatar image for satteesh2002
satteesh2002

If the puzzles turnout to be good ones, there is no doubt its gonna be a really nice game. Sketches, i mean grafx, and music are already superbb.. Hope it turns out to be a great game.. and dialogue-less, dats really innovative, with some basic old aged bubbles..

Avatar image for coldogno
coldogno

kinda creepy alien atmosphere but nice looking game

Avatar image for bqra
bqra

oh really fun. (:

Avatar image for valium88
valium88

looks awesome actually

Avatar image for cloud_kai
cloud_kai

hahah, i agree with armedvigilante

Avatar image for armedvigilante
armedvigilante

looks great...The realated games are..wierd to say the least

Avatar image for SonOfSparda018
SonOfSparda018

This came is for me!

Avatar image for Oldgun
Oldgun

Good gracious!! Good ol' days of point & click.

Avatar image for amaneuvering
amaneuvering

I recognized the style as soon as I saw the video. I like it. Don't think the puzzle gameplay of those games is actually that brilliant, since it all seems a little bit like random trial and error, but they are quite unique experiences which I can see this will also be. @sglasgow99: I also agree that games like this would be perfect for WiiWare and it's frustrating that mostly we get to see really amateur looking stuff on WiiWare, with often cheap and quickly thrown together looking graphics, rather than highly polished and unique content like this.

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esba160

looks really cool....

Avatar image for Nawras
Nawras

i am astonished.

Avatar image for sglasgow99
sglasgow99

you see what I don't understand is why games like this, with it's independent development and miniature distrubution, aren't getting sold on Wiiware, the mechanics are perfect for it, plus, you can relax on your couch while playing a game like this, lounging really helps elevate some of the pitfalls of the adventure genre also, it's not like it costs nintendo very much more to host more games on it's download channel, they should be stocking this stuff us I'm still waiting on Cave Story :(

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

"...they blend in with the environment. It can take some real brain power and an eagle eye to pick out relevant objects..." Uh oh. This can be a serious drawback to this game. Pixel hunts are one of the complaints that brought down the adventure game genre in the first place.

Avatar image for Nodashi
Nodashi

I was amazed by the art in this game, made a pre-buy already, indie developers that deliver THIS kind of quality need support.

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shafrox

The artworks are simply magnificent!

Avatar image for Ghoulish_Visage
Ghoulish_Visage

Looks good, been a while since I played a good point 'n click.

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Wojcha

Cute ^^

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never-named

After playing my fair share of videogames for more than 17 years I have to admit, most games that set on a visual style never match the quality of their own concept art. Machinarium bucks this woeful trend.

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ZachBobBob

Wow....looks really cool.

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Litchie

Can't wait. I love Samorost.

Avatar image for Pochikirimichi
Pochikirimichi

A must for all the art lovers.