A sci-fi adventure that scratches the Myst itch, if only for a short time.
Developer: Littlefield Studio
Publisher: PID Publishing
Release date: 23 March, 2021
Inspired by the classic game Myst, Littlefield Studio’s attention to detail keeps this short game grounded yet engaging. The puzzles are enjoyable, and the well-crafted narrative builds towards a solid mystery that never feels rushed or out of place. Although Machinika Museum offers a brief experience, it is a satisfying and reasonably-priced one.
The game is set in the future, and the player takes on the role of a researcher in a museum. The narrative takes place during one shift of work and unfolds over seven chapters. The researcher has received a shipment of alien technology to investigate from the field, and each chapter basically consists of solving puzzles to open a container with a machine in it, and then solving puzzles to examine and get the piece of machinery working. Hopefully by the end the player is able to put all of the pieces of the machine together and solve the mystery.
Gameplay and Mechanics
As a point-and-click adventure game, puzzles are the bread and butter of the gameplay experience. I found most of the puzzles to be satisfyingly challenging without hitting the point of frustration, although I am currently stuck on what I’m pretty sure is one of the final puzzles in the last chapter. There are three basic tools in the researcher’s toolbox: a 3D printer that can be used to duplicate objects, a mini camera that can be used to investigate small hard-to-access places, and a magnetic screwdriver that the player solves a mini-puzzle to adjust the shape for each unique screw. I appreciated that the gameplay and mechanics complemented the narrative by having tools that were used throughout the investigation, rather than each puzzle being a one-off.
Art Style and Graphics
Machinika Museum’s realistic art style, color palette, and graphics are reminiscent of (if not a purposeful nod to) Myst. I’m personally convinced that the green journal that says 1993 on the researcher’s desk is an Easter egg. As might be anticipated of a museum setting, the space has an aged feel, as though a thin layer of dust on the floorboards wouldn’t be out of place. One can almost imagine the warm, musty, comfortable smell, just by looking around.
The sound effects are all fairly subtle, mostly electronic and similar sounds that might be expected from machinery. There is no voice acting, but that’s not surprising considering the player is an independent researcher working alone in their office. What need is there for spoken dialogue? It evokes the ambience of working in a museum collections department without being overbearing, repetitive, or breaking the mood. The audio works with the graphics to give the game atmosphere a grounded feel. The music blends into the background more than anything. It’s unassuming and fits with the mood of the game but isn’t anything exceptional that you’d search for to listen to outside of the game.
At $7.99 at the time of review, roughly 2-3 hours of playtime, and no achievements or extra features to speak of, Machinika Museum is a fun little puzzler, although it’s sadly too short to make for anything more than a brief trip down memory lane.