Also On: PS3, PC
Publisher: Amanita Design
Developer: Amanita Design
I'm a staunch believer that there's no wrong way to play a game. There are, however, some ways are significantly less right than others. Take, for example, how I played Machinarium: with a walkthrough for the PC version on hand at all times. Considering it's a point-and-click puzzle game — a genre where half the fun is figuring things out — and, well…you can see why I'd classify my playthrough as "less right".
In my defense, however, it's a pretty difficult game. From the second screen onwards, there are puzzles I couldn't possibly have solved without a hint or two (or ten). While many of the solutions seem kind of obvious in retrospect (and probably are pretty obvious, if you're a more spatially gifted person than I am), there are plenty of places where I couldn't have possibly moved forward unless I had something guiding me through.
Which leads to the bigger reason for why I played Machinarium with a walkthrough: because I constantly wanted more of it. More of its adorable story, more of its gorgeous graphics, more of its atmospheric music. As far as I'm concerned, whatever pleasure could have been had from the self-satisfaction of figuring out a tough puzzle on my own was outweighed by the simple desire to experience as much of the game as possible without delay. There's clearly a lesson to be had here in delayed gratification, but Machinarium is just so lovely that it's lost on me — indeed, it will probably be lost on anyone looking to experience the game more for its visual delights than for its puzzle-solving opportunities.
I suspect, though, that the more patient types (the people who just want to solve puzzles) will get a lot more out of Machinarium. Even if I'm incapable of doing it, I can certainly see the appeal of clicking everywhere on the screen and playing around with every item you come across in the hopes of discovering more of the game's secrets. In fact, the Vita version is probably ideal if you're this kind of person, since it allows you to use the front and rear touchscreens in addition to the sticks and buttons.
However you choose to play Machinarium, puzzling it out on your own or with a walkthrough in hand, the important thing is that you do play it. It's a feast for the senses and a treat for your brain, and there's nothing else on the Vita like it.