I hope the age of indie puzzle games where you play as a cutesy character going through an unfamiliar world has reached an apex now and that we will only see a decline after this point. What we have here is Unmechanical, a technically proficient gorgeous, well-designed indie puzzle game with a cutesy character going through an unfamiliar world and it is completely and utterly forgettable. I would say that it’s forgettable despite its best efforts but, really, the game doesn’t do anything to stand out.
You play as a tiny flying robot who looks like the Machinarium version of the (._.) emoticon as he progresses through what seems like a series of underground pipes in an effort to collect some light things to do something so that it can eventually stumble out. Or something like that. There’s really no clear story here and the ending is as disjointed from the game as the introduction. The game attempts at a humorously charming mechanical world with some cartoonish filler elements to compete with the many, many other indie games that do the same thing (there’s even a complete absence of any sort of written word outside of the menus).
The official site says “Unmechanical, an adventure-puzzle game about an adorable but indifferent robot’s quest to find its way out of the innards of an underground beast, and to find out what happened and why.” The only inclinations that the game took place inside a beast was one gigantic beating heart and about 10 metres of intestine but otherwise the game seemed to take place inside some pipes that fed into a lake. And there’s absolutely no finding out what happened and why. At all.
Where Unmechanical does shine is in its visuals. Done in UDK3, it’s a gorgeous looking game. Nothing looks out of place, no texture looks underdeveloped and the only real drawbacks in the graphical quality are due to technical limitations of the Unreal 3 engine. Otherwise, Talawa Games have done a great job of building a world that doesn’t take effort to look at.
The puzzle design is the real highlight of the game. The game’s puzzles are your standard sort of lever and switch puzzles but no two are alike. Nothing is spelled out for the the player but there are always more than enough cues to help figure out what has to be done. Everything from an odd construction on one end of a room to a panel out of place on the wall. The game also offers a hint system in case you find yourself stuck on what to do next but I always found it more useful to tell me where to go next instead since the puzzles are not particularly difficult outside of one or two that are either unclear or reliant on a bit of guesswork.
The game is, unfortunately, not long. The game glitched on me right at the very end when a gate wouldn’t open when it should have and my only recourse was to play through the game another time to beat it. My total time with Unmechanical was about 4 hours in what are effectively two playthroughs. It was not exactly satisfying to find out I was a mere 30 seconds from beating the game on my first run and that the game ends so suddenly and without any real explanation at all.
It’s hard to recommend Unmechanical to anyone at its $10 pricepoint. It’s a very short and forgettable puzzle game that’s also well designed and quite nice to look at. There’s no real replay value and, honestly, no real motivation to go through the game. It teases you with a Metroidvania like upgrade at one point that have you hoping for more moments like that, but there aren’t. If anything, I’d suggest waiting for a sale on this simply because there are plenty of other $10 games that are just as good and more unique and memorable than this.