Machinarium: Pointing-and-Clicking the Future

Machinarium, developed by the independent Czech studio Amanita Design, is a point-and-click adventure game that has recently landed in the Mac App Store (it had been released in 2009). If you enjoy point-and-click adventures, then Machinarium is the gem that you’ve been patiently waiting for. If you’ve never heard of point-and-click adventures, fear not—this is the ideal game to bring you into a thought-provoking, entrancing world.

Machinarium follows the story of a nameless little robot perilously lost in post-apocalyptic wasteland dominated by maniacal and power-hungry robots (think Wall-E meets Terminator  2 meets the free internet games you used to secretly play in 7th grade computer class). Each level presents its own strange puzzle that you must successfully navigate in order to make it on to the next level.

Without giving away too much information, in one of the first levels, you attempt to seek passage over a bridge where only robot police are permitted. In this level, you must figure out how to earn passage. The resulting solution will make you smile and demonstrate the humor and good-heartedness of Machinarium.

The controls are relatively simple (it’s called point-and-click for a reason). You control your robot (with the ability to stretch or compress him in order to fit successfully into large or tight spaces) and direct him to investigate objects that may prove helpful to negotiating your way out of each maze. Each level requires unique critical thinking for a computer game and will often stretch your capacity for creative thinking (for those like myself who stumbled repeatedly, walkthroughs abound on the internet).

While the idea of a point-and-click game may not be satiating to today’s gamers who are used to highly-interactive, mind-bogglingly realistic games, Machinarium provides visual effects and a setting that are both truly stunning. Each elegantly drawn level would not look out of place in an award winning children’s book. Despite the limited palette of darker hues, Amanita Design has come up with a visually rich and rewarding game. Often it becomes difficult to focus on the task ahead because you are so distracted the unique design of Machinarium.

In addition to awe-inspiring visuals, the soundtrack of Machinarium provides a pleasant backdrop and an even more engrossing experience. The moody, atmospheric sounds make you experience your robot’s world even more closely.

While most games today market themselves on their grotesque shock value and collection of bells and whistles, Machinarium relies on a class formula of innovative, lucid gameplay, an oddly compelling story, and beautiful design. It is friendly for a variety of ages, young and old alike.

Amanita Design is an inimitable organization. The design of Machinarium suggests great things about their future. In a recent article, team leader Jakub Dvorsky discussed some of their upcoming releases—and each seems as pleasantly idiosyncratic and well-designed as Machinarium.

One of the best parts about the Mac App Store is the ease of independent developers in releasing their work to a larger audience. We will benefit from the creativity and ingenuity on Macs and on mobile devices as well.

Download Machinarium at the Mac App Store.