Machinarium, from the makers of Samorost, is a lot like a silent film; there are no written words or dialogue in the entire game. The world of Machinarium is inhabited by robots, and when they talk, the speech bubbles are filled with simple pictures. It's as if their language is so different from our words that there is no translation but pictures. Yet even in the demo, the story is fairly moving. The robot's pictures are worth 1,000 lines of dialogue.
The art is, of course, brilliant. The music sets the tone well, a sense of lighthearted fun sits on top of a gritty, dirty looking art style to provide the game with an odd sense of humor and a unique look. Your character is very animated and full of life, despite being a robot who stands still most of the time. The constant motion of the little details on the screen make the entire world feel real, despite the static, long-dead look of the landscape.
Your character is a robot who starts the game in a trash heap. It seems for some reason he has been thrown out with the rubbish. On the first screen you piece yourself back together using materials lying around you. Once that's completed, you move onto the next area, with the next challenge.
Inventory items don't move between screens. Each area is a self-contained puzzle. It's simple and still allows for some very interesting adventure gaming. I'm a big fan of this type of adventure game. There's no backtracking or convoluted inventories to keep track of, just clever puzzles and story.
The hint system is also fairly well done. There's one hint on each screen that shows the trickiest part of the puzzle, yet it's still optional to click. Even better, if you're really stuck you can unlock a walkthrough for the current screen by playing a little side-scrolling Gradius-type minigame. It means you'll never get stuck, but you're still discouraged from using the walkthrough by having to finish the minigame every time. It works great and keeps your brain focused on the puzzles, even when you're trying to get to the walkthrough.
Why You Should Check This Out: A game that manages to create a meaningful, interesting world out of just a few pictures and animations. A game with no dialogue, no complicated inventory, no backtracking. Just a screen, beautifully rendered, and a puzzle that needs to be solved to move forward. Machinarium simplifies the adventure-gaming formula, and manages to do a lot with that simplicity.
[size=20]Play Demo Now[/size]
[size=16](Full Version: $20, Win, OSX, Linux, No DRM)[/size]