Machinarium for Linux Review

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Machinarium is a 2D point-and-click adventure launched in 2009 that is still teaching lessons three years later. It may not have been a triple A title, but it's one of the most famous quest games released in the last decade.

Exactly what makes this game stand out from the crowd is not entirely certain. It may be the beautiful crafted environment or the main character, but Machinarium is a jewel nonetheless.

It was released back in 2009 by the Amanita Design studio. They were also known for a few other games before Machinarium, such as Samorost and Questionaut, but those titles have never become well known.

After Machinarium, the studio launched Botanicula, also a point-and-click adventure that was very well received by the gaming community.

One of the reasons for the game's success is the fact that it was ported on every conceivable platform, including Linux. There are very few gaming services not offering the game and it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of Machinarium.

Installation

We installed the version provided with the latest Humble Bundle, Android 4. As you would expect, the game is offered in two different formats, one in a tar.gz file which contains all the necessary components to run the Machinarium without having to install it, and the second one as a .deb file, which requires installation.

We ran the deb version in Ubuntu 12.10 and everything went without a hitch. The instructions should work for any Debian-based distribution.

Users can go about installing the game in two ways. The first one is also the simplest. Just double click on the file and Ubuntu Software Center will pop up. Hit install and you are good to go.

If by some strange reason you can’t install the game in this manner, you will have to do it the old-fashioned way. Open a terminal and enter the following commands (you will need root access and internet access):

sudo dpkg –i machinarium_20121106-ubuntu_i386.deb

Follow the installation process and see if it has any dependencies. If the installation ends in error, don’t despair, the solution is simple. Open a terminal and enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install –f

This command will help the user get the necessary dependencies from the official repositories and finish the installation.

Machinarium is also available on Steam for Linux, but the service is still in the beta stages, which means that only a handful of people will be able to install it.

This is actually good news. If you have Machinarium in Steam, but you bought it on another platform, you will get the Linux version for free when the Steam client is launched officially.

Story and Gameplay

Just like any other games in this genre, the story is one of the main pillars. The plot follows Joseph, a robot that has been disassembled and thrown at the scrapyard. He starts to make his way back into the city where he uncovers a conspiracy of massive proportions.

Machinarium is a point-and-click adventure game and it’s as pure as they come. It’s hard to imagine a more basic gameplay than finding the clues with the mouse, combining them and making use of that result in the right place.

Most of the gameplay takes place in a 2D environment, but there are some instances in which the main character can move in more than two directions.

Players will get from one mission to another by solving the puzzles in each one. Unlike most quest games, the items you find are not transported across multiple missions. Everything you find in a level must be used. It would be impossible otherwise as the inventory is quite limited.

Machinarium is a hard game and the puzzles are often difficult. This is why the developers have integrated a very good helping system, albeit a little too easy. The players are presented with the general goal of the level, without any further details.

The complete solution can be revealed through an annoying minigame in which the players can only use the mouse.

The Bad

After so many years of development, there are very few problems with the game. This doesn’t mean the game is perfect.

For example, there is only one resolution available. This is understandable because it’s developed in Adobe Flash, but we would have loved to increase the size of the screen.

Another problem that is quite common on this type of games is the mouse pointer. It usually changes when the main character can interact with something, but it’s not changing its shape unless you are near the object you want to interact to.

A final problem noticed during gameplay is that actions cannot be stopped once started. It would have been nice to be able to interrupt an action before its completion.

The Good

Machinarium has a very distinct artwork and this is probably one the main reasons for its success. The fact that it is hand drawn only goes to show the studio’s dedication.

Another nice feature is the absence of dialogue. This would normally be a downside, but as it turns out, the dialogue bubbles are actually a much better fit for the universe of Machinarium.

This innovative narrative technique works better than expected and it offers a powerful connection between the player and the robot. It’s not clear why this happens without the dialogue, but by the end of the game, you will feel that Joseph is an old acquaintance.

Conclusion

Machinarium is without a doubt an amazing experience, for veteran gamers and beginners alike. It features a great story and likable characters, all told without a single word. If this is not great entertainment, nothing is.


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