Machinarium by Amanita Design (iPad 2 only) is a point-and-click adventure game in a league of its own. The characters are endearing, the settings is breathtaking and the challenges are mind-bending. What’s more, the entire adventure flows fluently without the utterance of a single word.
Machinarium is without a doubt an adventure puzzler that will hook problem-solvers from the first frame of the story. The star of the story, an adorable, simple robot, exudes personality even though he doesn’t speak any human language. The adventure begins in the midst of a robot populated junk yard of sorts. Our mechanical hero isn’t in one piece and it’s up to players to re-assemble him.
The music is mysterious and each of the settings is a single-screen masterpiece of dark, robotic proportions. Players can move their robot friend by tapping various destinations, make him short or tall, touch objects to have him swallow them for future use and even interact with characters that are within his reach. Swallow objects, figure out when and where to use each piece to navigate “robot” from one end of the screen to the other and into the next puzzling level.
There are no explicit instructions during gameplay. This is part of the fun. Players must figure things out on their own. If players are stumped, the game provides a help option. When this option is used, a speech bubble appears onscreen and reveals a pectoral clue depicting what gamers must help their robot friend accomplish in order to enter the next level.
Anyone who loves a good mystery will find their curiosity stoked. It’s enough puzzling to drive anyone at least a little bit nuts. The controls work decently well, but there were time when testing the game that I had to tap objects or try to perform actions multiple times before our adorable robot complied. This may be done purposefully so players cannot simply tap all over the screen only to accidentally solve the level. Maybe the developers want to make sure players are intentionally performing actions, but this quirk in the game did get frustrating.
Machinarium is truly a masterpiece. It transports players to another world of mystery and wordless communication. In an app store filled with thousands of mindless games, Machinarium is a breathe of fresh air and a proverbial obstacle course for the mind. Potential customers may hesitate to purchase it simply because costs a bit more than many apps for the iPad, but – rest assured – it’s worth every cent.