Machinarium

1 Oct

I’m taking a brief meander away from the harsh world of the internet cynicism to talk about something I really love- point and click adventures games. When I was in primary school I had a friend who owned a computer, a shiny new thing he called a ‘pentium’, and inside that wonderful box were games like Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, Quest For Glory and Monkey Island.  Hours were spent grappling with decoder wheels (remember that?) playing the endless ‘combine x with y’ puzzles and reading out co-ordinates from the phone book excerpt under the Astro Chicken! advertisement. Point and Clickers at their best combined a warped sense of humour, compelling characters and sometimes infuriating leaps of logic.  Yahtzee (of Zero Punctuation fame) once described all adventure puzzles as having to rub the teddy bear on the alarm clock at midnight, which is not an entirely unreasonable description. Even though it’s been many years since its release, the phrase ‘waffle puzzle’ is enough to leave adventures fans shivering in the corner tearing their hair out in clumps.

Despite the insanity-inducing nature of some of these titles there has always been a dedicated fanbase for this kind of content, right from the earliest Roberta Williams games  to the upcoming Heavy Rain on PS3. The early 90’s were perhaps the zenith of their popularity, but in recent years the genre has had a resurgence, thanks in no small part to cool people like TIGSource Forums and the design program AGS.

http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php

http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/

Naturally with any freeware group there will be a certain amount of chaff around the delicious, puzzley wheat but the enthusiasm and dedication on display has resulted in a wonderful community of designers who’ve created all sorts of games with influences ranging from a noir-themed Wizard of Oz adventure to a sober interpretation of Wagnerian tragedy. The above picture is from a new game called Machinarium, made by the group who created the delightfully odd Samarost series. The demo is available now and the full title will be on sale soon for a quite reasonable $17 US. I’ve played it most of the afternoon and it’s charming, beautiful, and most importantly a lot of fun. Download the demo and support a burgeoning industry made up of nerds just like you.

http://www.machinarium.com/

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One Response to “Machinarium”

  1. richard October 8, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Extra jackpot: only US $15 on Steam, preordered!

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