The story in Machinarium is about a small tin robot called Josef, who has been thrown out into a scrapyard on the outskirts of the city limits. When he comes to, he realises that he’s in pieces and has to reassemble himself to return to the city and find his girlfriend, whose whereabouts are unknown. He has to do this all while an evil gang of robots hinders his progress with their dastardly deeds.
As I’ve never played Machinarium before on any other console, this was a new experience for me, and even though I ran into a few problems, it was a charming romp through the robotic world. What really blew me away from the very beginning was the beautiful animation and backdrop. It really draws you into the world with its visual style and the charming way it tells its tale.
From the very beginning, controls are tight and simple to use. You move a small cursor around with the left analog stick to interact with objects. There is a sense of realism as your robot can only interact with objects that are within his reach. Thankfully, our little robot has a few tricks up his sleeve to reach heights that others couldn’t get to. By putting the cursor on Josef’s upper parts – like his head, for instance – you can extend his body, making him taller to reach things that are high up. Or you can move the cursor to the lower section of his robot body to make him crouch, making it easy for him to reach under objects.
This is a great little mechanic that helps you to explore and interact with lots of different things. Little details like his comical wobble while he walks in his taller mode made me chuckle. This is a small detail, but it adds character and personality to our little metal hero.
Any items you require can be stored in your inventory, which is located at the top of the screen. You can pick and use any item you want from your inventory, or sometimes even combine items to create brand new ones. If an item can’t be used, Josef will let you know by shaking his head. Also, on the bottom of the screen, you have a few options for saving and viewing achievements.
Riddle me this!
The puzzles can be quite tricky in the Machinarium. I found some of the puzzles to be quite complex and needed multiple steps to achieve even the simplest of goals. This is a point-&-click adventure, so that is to be expected, but certain puzzles required certain items that are very well hidden. This had me walking about aimlessly until I found them, which was a little annoying. One of the toughest puzzles, which I am still having issues with, is the tic-tac-toe puzzle in the tavern. It had me gritting my teeth and yelling, quite a bit.
You’re tasked with winning the game against another robot, but every single move I make, the other robot can counter it, stopping me in my tracks. He’s won at least 20 times. I had to check an online guide to find a solution to this puzzle and there seems to be a pattern, but I think it’s mainly based on luck rather than anything else.
It’s rough. This was only in the early part of the game so I could see a few people giving up here entirely. Thankfully, I’ve since moved on and found other things to do and get stuck on. Even when you get stuck on a puzzle, though, there is satisfaction when you manage to complete it, as you will unlock a new achievement by completing a key puzzle.
Tough to find!
I found some of the early puzzles difficult to solve, so much so that I had to check out an online guide, which I never normally do. Some of the objects or solutions seem a little too obscure to find or solve. I was looking for an object that I needed to use on the clock puzzle. The only problem was, it was really small, and I would never have found it if it hadn’t been looking at an online guide.
That’s one of my issues – how well hidden some objects are. The game does have a zoom feature, but none of the objects shine or twinkle to let you know they can be interacted with, and as a point-&-click novice, I would have appreciated this little inclusion so your progress isn’t halted.
However, the game doesn’t leave you stuck for too long, as you can use two different types of hints to help you out of a tight spot. One is a little hint bubble that can be used once per level and the other one is a little walkthrough story board that requires you to play a little shooter mini-game before you can open the book up to look at it.
Hint bubble – shows you a little hint of what you might need to interact with to move or complete a puzzle.
Story book – the second option, which requires you to complete a shooter mini game to unlock the contents of the book. In the book are pictures of the process of completing a puzzle. No words, just pictures and arrows. Again, it can feel unhelpful as certain images can be difficult to make out, but I love the idea of a little storyboard on how to complete a certain section.
These hints were sometimes useful and other times not so much, some are difficult to work out, but I guess that’s the whole point.
One of the things I love in Machinarium is the way the story is told through dialogue bubbles that appear over your robot’s head when he is idle in certain areas. He dreams about little scenarios that might have happened in the past and it’s a lovely little inclusion. It shows you his relationship with his girlfriend and the evil bully bots that are constantly causing trouble around the city.
Each character has a story to tell and there’s no spoken dialogue or talking, apart from a few giggles. It’s through these bubbles that you start to understand what’s going on in Josef’s world. Even though I’ve had some ups and downs in Machinarium on Switch, I can’t deny how well-crafted this title is. It fits perfectly on Switch as it looks great in handheld mode. For people who love point-&-click adventures, this hits all the right notes, but with no additional content, people who have played it before may feel there is nothing new to double dip for.
The music in Machinarium is really nice. It has a very steampunk, robotic style to it. The soundtrack is available on YouTube, which you should totally go listen to, as it’s really quirky. Noises and sounds are really unique and fit the world of Machinarium very well. I really enjoyed listening to it.
Visuals & Performance
The visuals are lovely in Machinarium. Every tiny detail and back drop is lovingly crafted. It creates a sense of how robots actually live, which creates a lot of atmosphere that I really liked. Performance was great too. No issues – everything ran brilliantly. It also supports screenshots and video capture.
The game can be completed in about 6 hours and, for £9.99, that’s pretty good value in my book. There’s no additional content to speak of, however, but what’s here is a solid point-&-click adventure. If you haven’t already played it, then maybe it’s time to download it onto your Switch.
Beautiful world to explore
Unique robot abilities