In case you haven't noticed, we're playing catch-up here at Kotaku. Reviewing some games that were missed in the run-in to the holiday season. Which is great, because it means I get a chance to talk about Machinarium.
Or, as I like to call it, the one game of 2009 that I managed to sneak into my honeymoon.
Machinarium is an adventure game where you play as a robot who must work his way through a robot world by solving a series of puzzles. If you've heard the name before, it's because we've spoken of the game before, so hit up our archives for some trailers and concept art to get you up to speed.
Loved Charm Your Shiny Metal arse Off - The thing that first draws you to Machinarium, and perhaps leaves the most lasting impression, is the game's visual design. Part kid's storybook, part Robo Story. There's really nothing else like it out there, and it makes a pleasant change from your standard 3D-infused adventure title.
DirectEveryone - Machinarium runs in Flash. It's entirely 2D. Meaning it runs on practically everything, from Macs to ageing desktops to the lamest of netbooks.
Tap Your Shiny Metal Feet - As a puzzle/adventure game, Machinarium will leave you stumped at times, simply staring at the screen, doing nothing. Thankfully, this down-time is rarely a chore, as the game has an amazing soundtrack, courtesy of Tomas Dvorak. Ambient background music, chirpier stuff, it's all great.
Robots Should Be Seen, Not Heard - Visually, Machinarium is a unique world. One that could easily have been compromised by sub-par voice talent. So Amanita Design smartly avoid this altogether, with the game containing not a single line of dialogue. Everything, from conversation to tutorials, takes place via animated thought bubbles, a cute solution to a problem that plagues many small-budget titles.
FAQ - Machinarium can be tough. Luckily, there's an incredibly elegant solution built into the game, in the form of a two-pronged hint system that gives you enough of a push in the right direction without totally spoiling the fun.
Hated Echo, Echo, Echo - While for the most part the "emptiness" of the world (for example, no dialogue) is part of its charm, there are moments - particularly when the game gets tough - that it simply feels empty.
Click Click Bloody Click - Machinarium's hit detection could do with some work. The point at which the game recognises where you're trying to aim is a little off, meaning you'll need to wiggle the mouse around sometimes to get the game to recognise where you're going.
The adventure game isn't dead. And it doesn't have to be cartoony and episodic to be relevant, either. It can, as is the case with Machinarium, simply be a beautiful game world, into which puzzles breathe life.
Best part? Being Christmas time, Machinarium is currently on sale for $US10, which will nab you a copy of not just this wonderful game, but another of the developer's games, Samorost2, as well. It's probably the bargain of the year.
Machinarium was developed by Amanita Design, and published for the PC and Mac. Released on October 16, 2009, retails for $US19.99/$AU25. Completed game on both PC and Mac, and loved every second of it.
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NOTE: Throughout the month of December, Kotaku will review some of the games that we missed earlier in the year. We're catching up.