Folks I’m back again to talk about an adventure game that’s out on the Switch. The Switch has definitely shown itself to be a great system for adventure games. With their puzzles and brainteasers sometimes you just need to put them down for a minute and think of a solution. Many a time while making lunch or folding clothes or some other mindless task have I had a sudden realization of how to solve a troll’s riddle or combine my inventory to fix a problem.
Out on the Switch now is an adventure game called Machinarium. I’ve played through this game a few times on PC and it’s a real favorite of mine. There’s a few things that can make a good adventure game stand out: Story, Atmosphere, Challenge, and Gameplay. There’s other things that can affect a game like inventory management, voice acting, humor, and so on, but those four can make a game very memorable.
This game starts out as a small robot gets dumped onto a pile of junk in a few pieces. You are that robot and as an introduction to the controls (standard point and click) you must reassemble yourself. As you click on things that you are near in your environment they will react. You might knock a bucket over to reveal what’s underneath it, or reach into a hole to pull something out of it. It’s pretty standard adventure game control. What Machinarium stand out is that you can not click on something if you aren't standing near it. In most adventure games you can sort of run your pointer around the map and see if something is interactable. Hovering over a button might show that it can be pressed, or a book may show that it can be read. In this game you need to walk yourself around to be near something to see if you can use it. This really makes you pay attention to your surroundings. This pays off the wonderful art. Each location is a different hand drawn piece of art. The city that you end up in is this rusty, sort of broken down, robot city. Buildings are patched, pipes are dripping, cords are frayed, and the residents are all unique robots. It’s a real joy to walk around and interact with.
Speaking of the other residents, another aspect of the atmosphere of this game is the fact that nobody speaks. Your robot hero and other robot citizens communicate with headshakes, nods, and pictures in speech bubbles. It’s easy to tell what each person is “saying” and there’s no confusion about there wants or motives. Your robot hero also teaches you the player about what happened to get him thrown in the trash by showing you memories of things that happened to him in each area as you investigate. It becomes clear right away that you’re going back into the city because some bad bots stole away your little robot friend. The full story of that unfolds a little at a time as you move through the city.
The challenge of this game can be a little high at times. The adventure game part is a normal difficulty, but there are some brainteaser puzzles that can be quite tough. (at least for me) Things like sliding colored balls through certain channels to have the colors end up reversed from their starting positions, or having tiles that can only move in one direction and only jump over each other end up in a certain configuration. Puzzles like that pop up here and there. Those are the times that the pick up and put down nature of the Switch can come in handy.
All in all Machinarium is a solid choice for a quiet adventure game that is safe to play with your family.
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