If your idea of gaming is a leisurely session of puzzle solving, and if you admire beautiful, hand-drawn backgrounds, then prepare to be delighted. Machinarium is a cute and crafty adventure, with none of the violence or button-pummelling required of first-person shooters.
Expanding on the gentle gameplay trademarked in early entries – Samarost 1 and 2 – in Amanita Design’s Machinarium, you take control of a characterful robot in a series of puzzle scenarios. Each screen is a revelation as you descend into a gorgeously rendered world.
The gameplay is simple: you click on objects and things happen. The trick is finding what sequences work, which objects to use for a given task, and so on.
If it sounds tedious, the combination of brain teasing, sweet humour, relaxing ambient sound and charm will win over anyone with a curious soul. As the game progresses, the world opens out, giving way to a more exploratory approach.
The story behind the game is almost as interesting as the game itself. A true independent, it was put together by a group of Czech guys with less than $1,000 [about £600] between them for marketing. Though they’d had modest success with point-and-click adventures before, they had no idea how Machinarium would turn out. Winning a prize for visual art in the 12th Annual Independent Games festival, the game is now one of the most popular on PC download platform Steam.
You don’t have to take our word for it, though. You can play the first few screens for free online at www.machinarium.com – no download is required.