Machinarium Review (PC)

As originally published in GDN.COM (Gamer’s Daily News) by Robert Hedlerfog:

Machinarium Review (PC)

Posted by Robert Hedlerfog, 

At last the long-awaited Machinarium has arrived, a new point and click adventure from the independent game studio, Amanita Design, based in Prague. It awakens the classic adventure gaming feeling from the early 80’s, when inspiring games like The Hobbit, Hitchhikers guide, Bureaucracy and Myst were popular.Those games were a labour of love and had the intensity, the well-designed game plot and thorough background based on plenty of research. Amanita Design have that same approach in making the robot fantasy Machinarium but also in earlier outlandish and charming work with Samorost, Samorost2 and Questionaut (a children’s quiz for BBC). Amanita Design has undeniably walked their own path among the myriads of games out there.In Machinarium you take on the role of an ingenious little telescopic robot and subtly battle to save his kidnapped girlfriend and his hometown starting out from a robot scrap yard where he is dumped. He must swiftly come to his beloved and his fellow citizens’ rescue and save the city from being blown to pieces by the three hoodlums of the Black Cap Brotherhood, by using wits and any trick up his telescopic robot sleeves.The environment is ominous and, at the same time, humorous and beautiful with its hand-drawn and genuine backgrounds. Dungeons, machine rooms, advanced devices, factory buildings, worn-out facades, rusty pipes and dented cisterns, a robot gallery, each with a unique peculiarity. Picture clues must be understood, lurking traps need to be cleared and intriguing puzzles yearn for solutions. Being an archetypical robot tale some robots are musicians, some are bar or house owners, some bad, some good, some policemen, some offenders of the city order or just bullies from Josef’s childhood. Josef gets flashbacks of the malevolent robots he encounter and often daydreams about his missing girlfriend and his childhood. The game has an endearing charm with its handmade animations and tailor made scenarios and brings out plenty of playing joy.


Josef interacts only with objects within reach. The robot has an extended and a compressed mode and can stretch out his telescopic limbs to reach for nearby objects to prevent players to just randomly click them selves to a solution. The inventory system elegantly cleans out the used inventory with a clever animation in a natural and often humorous way.

The level of difficulty varies from pretty basic to fairly advanced. In total there are about 30 locations, suiting all members of the family to play independently or together. Machinarium has many mini-games, even the in-game hint system has to be unlocked by a horizontal shooter. Anything from Rubik’s cube variant to “5-in-a-row“ and other clever little puzzles or devices in-between. All very well crafted with completely sound and logical solutions.

Every scene is planned carefully at the paper and pen stage. All ingenious little steps and clever applications of inventory and related animations are skilfully and artistically executed. That little twinkle in the eye is there, in every scene, in every animation. During every course of action there is customized robot jazz or robot symphonies playing in the background taking gaming music to the next level I dare say. The dedicated musician and the sound technician at Amanita contribute with an important part.

The founder of Amanita Design, Jakub Dvorský, 30, from the Czech Republic with strong artistic family influences has put his soul and feel for art into the game. As a student he made the well-known and unusual flash game Samorost as a degree project. The Amanita Design Studio, started by Jakub and his student friend and animator Václav Blín in 2003, has already been awarded two prestigious prizes this year for Machinarium - The IndieCade 08´s - Aesthetics Award and the Independent Games Festivals - Excellence in Visual Art Award.

The game is taking place in a barren environment, similar to the Wall-E movie. Despite all the mechanical gadgets and robots, there is plenty of humanity that sentimentally softens the player’s view of the robot society. There are jazz playing robot musicians, runaway robopets, robot citizens, all with special activity and human-like traits. These bits of humanism in the otherwise cold robot reality are what make the game so alive and personal. There is constantly that underdog feeling impregnating the game and you can’t help but taking Josef’s (named after the Czech artist Josef Capek, who coined the word “robot”) destiny as your own and loyally help “him” on his journey toward his worthy goals.

There are also bad robots of course, hoodlums, sadistic wardens, intolerant police robots, busy shop owners, and other authoritarian types taking any chance to make life difficult for the citizens. One has a feeling that the game is also an allegory and a subtle tool for the game makers to allow them to display through the world of Machinarium their own outlook of the world. Jakub has in interviews stated that writers like Stanislav Lem, Douglas Adams, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Stanley Kubrick and Karel Zeman, who had a similar outlook of the world in common, influence him. They all in their own way wanted to tell the world what kind of world we really live in and ask us all to react before it is too late.

A novelty in is the nonverbal communication system. All communication is made through sketches in talking bubbles above the communicating characters. The sketches are well made and cleverly done and the communicated messages are clear. No tedious text to skim through! The team felt that it was abundant with text communication when the sketches did a better job and admittedly thought they were not capable of a good written dialogue so they chose another solution. Their game Machinarium has single-handedly taken back a lot of territory from other gaming genres and revived the charm and importance of the click and point adventures. Welcome Machinarium, to a very well earned and stable place on the throne for point-and-click adventure games!


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For more video game reviews on this and many others head to Game Rankings
 Our Rating for Machinarium Review (PC)
Not much interest in replaying a solved adventure game but Machinarium would be one of the few exceptions due to its charm and uniqueness and I would gladly play it over again to show a friend.
The hand drawn art style and cute animations are truly a piece of art and the game would not be what it is without it.
A new standard is set for customized gaming music that really helps to enhance the game!
The gaming experience is just wonderful. All factors come together to one beautiful game. Period.
Multiplayer/Online Content
This is a game every player should allow himself or herself to enjoy alone or with their family. It is childish, it is cute, it is clever, it is subtle and it is mind-boggling at times. And it is a piece of art!

As originally published in GDN (Gamer’s Daily News):


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March 2012
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