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Publisher: Amanita Design    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel @ 1800 MHz    RAM: 999 MB

November 25, 2009 | Franklin Pride

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Adventure games tend to be taken from the same mold. You have to gather a series of items, combine those items, and use them to progress to the next area and repeat the whole process again. However, most don't go much further than that. Aside from the big names like the Monkey Island, King's Quest, Space Quest, and Sam & Max series, most end up repetitive with nothing to keep things interesting.

Machinarium is better than most. It's about the journey of a brave small robot as he attempts to find his counterpart. Along the way, he encounters a variety of obstacles including his childhood nemesis, fat robot and robot with hat, prison, and quite a few logic puzzles. It's surprisingly deep for a game where everybody communicates with pictures.

The gameplay is quite a bit beyond just point-and-click. For one thing, you can change the height of your character to change his movement speed, sight area, and what he can grab. This plays into a lot of puzzles, including one where you squat a mimicking crow off a perch. It takes quite a bit of thought and makes you think more about the environment instead of just scanning everything with the mouse to see if it lights up. If you get stuck, you can just use the built-in hints and walkthrough to continue.

There are also a number of logic puzzles and math games that require you to test your reasoning skills. This includes an arrow-jumping puzzle, analog clock skills, a game of five-in-a-row, and many more. They're a welcome break to the monotony of moving from place to place and searching for the item you know you're missing. One or two of them can give you trouble for a while (five-in-a-row comes to mind), but they're all beatable with enough thought and practice.

The only real problem with the gameplay is the time it takes to move from place to place. It's often unclear where you'll move when you click, and you can't correct yourself or do anything until the robot arrives where it's headed. This can be particularly annoying when you've made him his full height, as that slows down the walking speed considerably. You can avoid this problem by getting to optimum walking speed before moving, but it's still not something you'll always remember to do.

One thing you'll notice throughout the entire game, is just how well the world is designed and drawn. It has a very cohesive style, and it has many tiny little touches and animations that make it much more alive than the static backgrounds found in most adventure games. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything that doesn't look like it belongs or looks bland. It's a work of art.

The sound and music matches the graphics just as well as the graphics matches the gameplay. All the little grunts, clanks, and assorted noises match the action on-screen perfectly. The music is also excellent, although you'll hardly notice it when you're focused on the game. It's very unobtrusive and atmospheric.

Overall, Machinarium is worth a purchase. Adventure games of this quality don't come along very often, and, aside from the monotonous movement, it's well worth the price. It's a little short, but you'll enjoy yourself the entire time. With hints for the newcomers, difficult enough puzzles for the fans, and an excellent audio and video experience, $19.95 almost seems too cheap.

• Beautiful visuals
• Creative puzzles
• Logic games to break things up

• Movement can be annoying
• A little short

Publisher: Amanita Design
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