A few weeks ago I wrote about an online adventure game called Samorost, and its potential as a stimulus for creative writing, storytelling, problem-solving and the development of talking and listening skills. After months of speculation and anticipation Amanita,the makers of Samorost, have just released Machinarium, an even more mind-boggling adventure narrative with a science fiction theme. The basic premise of the game is that a little robot figure has been unjustly dumped on a scrap heap behind the city, and the player has to rebuild him before helping him return to the town, where he must prevent the criminal Black Cap Brotherhood from blowing up the residence of the town ruler. And following the true plot structure of the Quest he must also rescue his robot girlfriend, of course.
Like Samorost, the game is played by pointing and clicking the mouse at certain objects in sequence to progress to the next level. The player must help the robot to solve a series of puzzles while discovering the reasons for his plight and the urgency of his return. Again, the graphics are stunning in their detail, colour and texture, and, unusually for a computer game, the soundtrack is more than just a background annoyance (in fact it is a work of art in its own right and available as a separate download). The game is more complex than Samorost, and although there is no spoken dialogue, it has been enhanced by pop-up thought balloons, an inventory of items which the player has to collect, and, thoughtfully, a clue to help you on each level if you are really stuck, but even here you have to work your way through a mini-arcade game to unlock the secret. Prepare to be enthralled.
Watch a short trailer here (note that the visual quality does not compare to the actual game).