So, how do you feel about robots?
Let’s get meta for a minute. This post wasn’t meant to have a theme. As it turns out, robots are central to a lot of charming games, and I believe cartoon robot rights are greatly overlooked in today’s pro-organic society. That said, welcome back to Holly’s superficial roundup of pretty indie games.
Little Wheel is a point-and-click adventure game by OneClickDog. And like everything I wave in front of your face here, it’s free.
Little Wheel's setting is a city of living robots forced into a 10,000-year sleep after an incident with the central generator. A lucky lightning strike wakes one of the little denizens and gives him just enough energy to find his way to the generator and reactivate it.
Little Wheel is a golden game full of silhouettes and smooth jazz, and stumbling upon it was a real delight. While it is gorgeous (I mean it!), Little Wheel is arguably too easy. It takes next to no trial and error to figure out where to click and when. Sometimes, however, playing games built for cinematics rather than challenge is a welcome break. Little Wheel is a perfect example of this.
Alchemia is a part-puzzle, part-adventure, all-excellent game by Springtail Studio.
In Alchemia, the player character is a man appropriately named Noses. He’s on a quest to find Lootpecker a new body—Lootpecker being the soul of a robot he accidentally destroyed. I hope you’re following along. The surreality of a robot possessing a soul outlines the surreality of the game at large—the cool kind of surreality. The kind you want to be friends with but aren’t sure how to go about making that a reality.
The puzzles are a bit tougher in Alchemia than the average point-and-click adventure game. Springtail Studio knows this. Not wanting you to give up in frustration, they included a walkthrough in the game. Having a little help solving the trickier puzzles makes it easier to appreciate all there is to Alchemia—intriguing art, ambient music, and odd humor.
If you do give up in frustration, play Little Wheel instead.
Walkie Tonky is a side-scrolling action game by Pieces Interactive. It’s still in development (and has been for years, so don't expect to see a full game soon/ever), but there’s a prototype demo available for funtimes.
Walkie Tonky puts you in control of a giant robot invading earth in the most darling possible way. Pieces Interactive calls the game “the world’s first walk ‘em up” due to its unique play style—you push the wobbly robot to clear a path and generally wreak havoc by smashing and kicking everything in its way. Say what you will about cartoon violence, but don’t deny how much you enjoy throwing tanks at fighter jets when you’re in the players’ chair.
The visuals are fun. The rich colors and splotchy sky are appropriately doomsday-ish, but nothing about the bouncing bombs, rainbow bright announcements of “COMBO,” or the robot’s knobby knees will let you mistake this invasion for a grim one. Don’t get distracted by the flying gears or taillight trails, though—the demo doesn’t have a checkpoint system. If Earth’s defensive forces manage to down your robot, it’s back to the beginning.
Machinarium is an award-winning point-and-click adventure game by Amanita Design. The full game will cost you $20, but there is a free demo on their website that you must check out. Click, mind slave!
Machinarium doesn’t take many bold leaps in terms of point-and-click adventures—you combine inventory items to make new items to get to the next room and the next puzzle. This couldn’t stop it from being one of my all-time favorite indie games, however. The story of a bitty robot standing up to robot bullies to save his robot city and find his robot girlfriend is touching and beautifully presented. Even if you find yourself looking to the in-game hints and walkthroughs, you won’t want to quit. No, let me restate. You can’t quit. You mustn’t. (And if you don’t find yourself resorting to in-game hints: Congratulations on your big brain and the fat head you keep it in.)
Machinarium perfectly balances gloom and charm with its dingy, steampunk-inspired environments and adorable robot shenanigans. The hand-drawn visuals are great, the atmospheric soundtrack is great, it’s just…great. I sincerely recommend that you go and see for yourself.