Ever since I played – and then replayed several times – Machinarium I’ve had somewhat of an affinity for robots rendered in a cartoon aesthetic. This is why Unmechanical presented me with a character I couldn’t’ resist, but granting me an adventure I can’t seem to forget is solely down to the developers Talawa Games. It won’t occupy you for long, but it will occupy you completely with some interesting puzzles emerging from a simple central concept and an unexpected narrative poignancy.
The silent protagonist is in many ways a reflection of the mysterious world he – I am attributing a gender to ‘him’ as ‘it’ seems far too distant and removed considering what we’ve shared – finds himself in. Largely mechanical but with an organic, almost human element, he is silent, robotic but strangely relatable.
It is largely left to the environment and events of the game to create the narrative. At the start , little more than the inherent draw of exploration and discovery are provided in terms of motivation, but as you progress your interest will be piqued by the appearance of cameras, other robots and a shift in the dynamic of the puzzles themselves. Initially, solutions are as simple as placing rocks on buttons and flying through levers, but this soon evolves into having to understand and then manipulate the industrial infrastructure of the world and then culminates in sections that feel unmistakably like you’re being tested.
What immediately impressed about this physics-based puzzler was the sense of weight and momentum one feels when transporting an object with the robot’s tractor beam. The central concept from which every puzzles pinwheels, this aspect gives the game more than just physical weight, it gives the invincible character a sense of vulnerability. This sense of momentum is never used to overcome an obstacle, which feels like somewhat of an oversight given how well something like having to knock down a barrier with a large rock would have demonstrated this aspect, but it adds an authenticity that serves the game incredibly well.
The tractor beam can manipulate a range of mechanisms, as well as lift many diverse objects within the world, making the game’s puzzles far more diverse than one initially presumes. There are manipulations of light, mini-games type magnetism puzzles and a myriad of other mechanics used throughout the game, each of which is rarely repeated. Brief experimentation is often needed to work out the particulars of each puzzle, but they aren’t particularly challenging in terms of gleaning the underlying concepts or executing the various tasks.
The aesthetic is compelling and well-conceived. There are tiny details to be found in the majority of the game’s backgrounds, from distant mechanisms to other machines, and almost everything is intriguing and beautiful. Much like with the puzzles, there is a surprising amount of diversity within the different scenes of the game. Many use repeated elements, but all of the main areas, and the majority of the individual rooms, feel distinct.
After finishing the game you will want to replay the final checkpoint, but that is all. A second playthrough isn’t something you will feel compelled to complete, meaning that most will consider the game to be complete after around 3 hours. Some may worry that the game is therefore too short to justify its £6.99 price on Steam, but they shouldn’t.
Unmechanical is something rather special, and whilst it can be completed in one sitting there are still moments that will knock you off of your feet.
Contest Now Closed – Winners Announced Here
Update: Thanks to the composer of the soundtrack, Jonas Kjellberg, we also have 5 Bandcamp codes for the OST to giveaway. I didn’t touch on it directly in my review, but the music is fantastic. It heightens every element of the game and, if it wasn’t for my damn concious, I would have stolen one of these codes for myself. So, think of the OST as a runner up prize, though the term doesn’t quite seem apt given its quality.
Thanks to Talawa games we have three Unmechanical Steam codes awaiting within our own mechanical wonder the Randomiser. Here’s everything you need to know about being in with a chance of winning one of them:
There are two ways to enter and you can, if you so desire, enter ONCE through each method – You can enter by:
Commenting upon this post – EITHER through the JPS Facebook page or the comment section below
Or by following @JPSGamePodcast on Twitter and re-tweeting the following message:
— Just Press Start (@JPSGamePodcast) August 17, 2012
The contest ends this coming Wednesday (august 22nd) at 12pm GMT (midnight). The winners will be contacted and announced the following day.
Best of luck,