My esteemed colleague Faisal Alani set a dangerous precedent when he wrote about Pro Evolution Soccer 2010. Yes, we can write about games here, it said, under the radar – on the QT and the hush, hush… Which is just as well, because I just lost an entire afternoon of my life playing the gorgeous Machinarium – a new(ish) adventure for PC and Mac from Amanita Design.
You’re a Wall-E style robot venturing through a deliciously hand-scribbled steampunk environment. With a new point and click puzzle to solve on every level, ambient, tinkling music follows you through the cluttered cityscape. Your course is blocked at every opportunity and you have to work out how best to the use the objects lying around to help you get past each obstacle. With so much detail etched into every scene, there’s never any rush to move on though.
It’s tranquil, fun and cute with a capital C. At least, it is when things are going swimmingly… Like all the best puzzles, there are moments when lateral thinking simply isn’t good enough – and only wandering around clicking frantically on everything within clicking distance will help. There are hints on every level too, but real gamers don’t do walkthroughs, do they? Ahem.
The first three levels can be played for free, online at www.machinarium.net on any platform that runs Flash – and you can download the full PC version for £14.99 through Steam.