iPad Game Review: Machinarium for iPad 2 Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Machinarium for iPad 2 is a port of the excellent Mac/PC game of the same name. It is a point-and-click adventure adapted for the touch screen with gorgeous artwork, captivating animation, beautiful music/sounds, and fiendishly difficult puzzles. Be warned: This game runs only on iPad 2, although the App Store will gladly let you install it on an iPad 1.
In Machinarium you play an adorable little robot with tons of personality and a big heart. Initially, your task is simply to reassemble yourself; an exercise that the developers use to familiarize you with the interface. This takes almost no time at all, as the interface is quite straightforward and intuitive. In moments you will be tapping your way through a world so lovingly rendered, it could easily be adapted to the big screen. This world has a sort of rundown clockwork appearance to it, which is intensified by the fact that absolutely everything is mechanical in some way; including the life forms. Each location is a puzzle that must be solved by collecting items, combining them, and interacting with your environment. The puzzles can be very challenging, but once you solve them you can look back and see that the solution makes sense, and that all the necessary clues were there for the carefully observant. My 9-year old son is better at this game than I am not only because I suspect he is smarter than me, but also because his mind is more adaptable and elastic than mine; traits that are richly rewarded in Machinarium.
A complete walkthrough is available in-game; however you must complete a mini-game each time you want to access it. I found it much easier to simply find a walkthrough online and switch back and forth between the game and my browser as needed. I encourage you not to give up on the puzzles too quickly, though. Relax and experiment with your surroundings as solving the puzzles on your own is hugely gratifying.
The interface in Machinarium suffers somewhat in the translation from point-and-click to touch. In the PC/Mac version, mousing over the environment results in the cursor changing to let you know if it can be interacted with. On the iPad, you will have to tap on items to see the cursor, which cleverly appears right under your finger. Still, I got used to it quickly, and it didn?t really detract from my enjoyment. There are no Game Center achievements in Machinarium, however this didn?t surprise me as the game is completely linear. This means that everybody who finishes the game will have the exact same achievements as everybody else who finishes the game. Sort of pointless, really.
Lastly, I encountered a number of bugs playing this game, although I have been told that the developers are working to get an update out quickly to address them.
Let?s get this out of the way right up front: Machinarium will not run on an iPad 1.Perhaps this has something to do with its Flash roots. It wouldn?t surprise me a bit to find that Flash continues to suck resources from iOS users from beyond the grave. The developer told us that the iPad 1 had memory limitations that this game just can?t live with, and they didn?t want to compromise to scale down the app.
If you have an iPad 2, however, you are in for a treat, graphically speaking. The images are complex and beautiful and the animation is smooth. Every time I accessed a new location I found myself pausing my play to just take it all in. It?s truly a beautiful world, and one that you will want to explore again, and again, even after you complete the game.
Additionally, the game does not support screen rotation in this version (although, a fix is planned) so if you carry your iPad in a portfolio style case, gird your loins and grit your teeth because it?s going to slowly slides out while you play.
The music and sound in Machinarium add the finishing touches to this masterpiece. The music is beautiful and haunting, and the sound effects are absolutely spot-on. If you?re like me, you don?t break out your headphones very often just to play a game. You will want to with Machinarium, just to soak up every bit of audio goodness.
Machinarium is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I am thrilled to be able to play it on my iPad 2. Hopefully, the folks at Amanita Design will find a way to bring their RAM requirements down to the point where it will run on legacy devices. In the meantime, those who meet the hardware requirements are in for a treat.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Beautifully rendered world, with great originality and personality. Sound: - 5 - A Beautiful soundtrack and rich sound effects make this an aural winner. Controls: - 4 - A point-and-click game adapted for the touchscreen means no mouse-overs, which is a bit of a nuisance. Gameplay: - 5 - A clever and fiendishly difficult adventure game that you won?t be able to put down.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Relax and don?t rush. Rotate your save slots so you can back up if you encounter a bug. If you absolutely need a walkthrough, find one online. The in-game one can only be accessed by solving a puzzle; every time.