The Machine

With a name like The Machine, this game can only have two possible stories: It’s either a horrible tale of Lovecraftian madness from which you will never escape, or a cute puzzle game based on moving blocks around on a conveyor belt. Take a look at the game’s mascot. Which one do you think it is?

The Machine is a very simple puzzle game where you are tasked with moving blocks from a block dispenser into a bin. A friendly boss gives you goals at the beginning of each level, such as “give me 5 white blocks,” and then you need to use the parts given to you to move the blocks to the proper bin. You’re given a limited toolset at the beginning of each level—items such as conveyor belts and paint guns.

The concept is simple, but what sets The Machine apart from so many bland puzzle games is execution. The game is simple but can leave you with some real head-scratchers. It’s my kind of puzzle game: very few rules to learn but a challenging application. The graphics are clean and crisp, while the interface is absolutely top notch. The puzzles themselves are in full 3D, but you rotate the camera with WASD/Arrow keys and zoom in and out with Q and E ( or P and L ). For a fan of shooters like me, it’s dead simple to pick up. Everything else is done with the mouse, so even a complete novice could complete the puzzles without fiddling with the camera too much.

The tutorial is also top-notch. The game’s mascot, “Bob,” comes on screen to give you textual guidance about how the interface works. Then, after the first level, he pops in from time to time to explain new features and provide hints. Puzzle games can easily overdo their help systems, but this seems like a perfect fit.

Why You Should Check This Out: The Machine is a puzzle game that’s polished, simple and fun. The graphics and sound are clean and not complicated, which keeps them from getting in the way of the puzzles. It’s a perfect puzzle game to play with your kids, because the theme is simple to understand. Yet several levels in, it becomes apparent that the game is capable of really throwing some tough puzzles at you, without complicating the rules. It’s the best kind of puzzle game: simple rules but challenging puzzles.

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Someone once said to me, "You are a machine!"