This is just one brilliant, ingenious and delightful game. First, a bit about the nuts and bolts of the story and it is nuts and bolts as the opening scene sees our little robot character being tossed by a flying dumpster into what looks like a metal scrap yard. Landing in pieces, he needs to find and re-attach his body parts before going anywhere. This part of the game enables a short tutorial on how the gameplay works.
Machinarium is a city of machines and the entire population is made up of robots of one form or another. There is no speech or dialogue used in the game, but information is derived through pictorials. If you idle the character Josef in certain places, he will produce thought bubbles. As he makes his way back into the city and ultimately to his destination, his thoughts give us some backstory and provide us with the purpose behind his present actions. It soon becomes clear early on that his goal is to find his girlfriend and re-unite with her.
If there is any complaint to be made, it would be that there is a lack of direction at times. Sometimes it's a little fuzzy on what you have to do next. However, because movement is very limited, part of the challenge is to dechiper what needs doing with the tools available. There are only a few things that Josef can do - he can walk, he can extend and contract his torso and he can grab things within his reach. An icon of little moving feet indicates the places he can walk to, which in turn dictates a likely place for an action.
A group of thugs known as the Black Cap Brotherhood provides the story with its antagonists. They prey on the citizens and in general are a bunch of hooligans. They have kidnapped Josef's girlfriend and have also planted a bomb on the city's central tower. Many of the puzzles revolve around Josef helping his fellow robots and restoring order.
Speaking of the puzzles, they are hard and some were a little hazy on what needed to be accomplished. For instance, if all the buttons on a panel needed to be green, you are not told that. This is not asking for how to solve the puzzle, just a little more direction on what the ultimate goal is. There are two hint systems indicated by a light bulb and a book in the top right corner. By clicking on the light bulb, you will be given one clue per level in the form of a bubble. The book, however, has to be accessed by beating a little mini game, but will give you more detailed pictorials of what you have to do. There are several other mini games you need to beat and these are really quite ingeniously integrated into the main game. The regular puzzles are variations of types of puzzles you have probably run across elsewhere and some are really quite intricate. You will probably have to resort to a walkthrough at times.
The good news is that there are no dead ends. If you do something in the wrong order, it's repairable. If you can't take an action, Josef will shake his head or shrug his shoulders.
Machinarium is a flash-based, point and click adventure game created by Amanita Design who also created the Samorost games. The first thing that will knock your socks of is the hand drawn art used for the entire game. It won the Excellence in Visual Art award at the 12th annual Independent Games Festival and the Best Soundtrack award from PC Gamer in 2009. The menu includes an option for windowed mode or full screen.
Amanita is based in the Czech Republic and the CD version of this game comes only in Russian, German and Italian. The English version must be downloaded. Unfortunately, this game was heavily pirated and hitting on independent games like this reaches a new low even for piracy. There isn't a lot of replay value, but the game is on sale often enough and is worth every penny.
By the way, I intentionally left out screens that would in anyway give a clue to solving the puzzles, so it looks like he's not doing much. Mean huh! (ha ha)