What’s the Point?
Many readers may recall the episode of Family Guy where Peter Griffin buys the “Breakfast Machine.” Said contraption was a comically twisted version of a Rube Goldberg machine, that after its elaborate chain of events fires off a gun that hits Peter. If you can remember the episode I’m sure you can hear Peter screaming in agony “WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT?” To most players thinking about playing Crazy Machines 3 you’ll be asking yourself the same question, and perhaps feeling a similar sense of confusion and agony, albeit hopefully not quite as painful as a gunshot wound.
ALL IT DOES IS SHOOT YOU
Peter Griffin’s inquiry as to the point of his elaborate machine is an important place to start. First and foremost: do you like pure puzzle games? Do you enjoy the sole satisfaction of solving a puzzle? Are you an engineer? Did you enjoy board games like Mousetrap as a child? Yes? Well, that makes two of us (regarding Mousetrap, that is). If you answered Yes to all those questions you’re indeed the intended audience for this game. So cynicism aside, I can tell you that there is a challenging and rewarding experience to be had with this game, one that fans of the puzzle genre will be satisfied with.
Now that my audience is whittled down to potentially interested consumers we can get to the nitty gritty, or better yet, the nuts and bolts of the game, ya dig? I’m doing my best machine enthusiast impression here, so bear with me.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF THE NITTY GRITTY
Fakt Software, who has helmed the franchise since 2005, manage to streamline and beautify the Crazy Machines series with this latest addition. When I say beautify I mean that this iteration is surprisingly good looking. The developers did not hold back fleshing out the visuals here. There is an impressive amount of variety to the stages ranging from canyons to outer space and it’s all aesthetically pleasing. The colours pop, the animation is fluid and there are additional effects like depth of field and deep shadows.
To accompany the good looks is an extremely enjoyable soundtrack. The music ranges from guitar driven westerns to some dreamy techno soundscapes. At times it’s akin to elevator music or rhythmic jazz that has a real thought provoking effect on the player. It’s all very relaxing and helps the old brain muscles to expand and focus on the solutions to the maniacal mechanisms you’ll find across the plethora of levels.
There are eight tutorial levels that do a pretty good job of outlining the various puzzles you’ll be solving. Once you complete the tutorial the game opens up to the Easy difficulty levels. There’s a total of 80 levels ramping up in difficulty from the aforementioned Easy all the way to up to Hard. For true enthusiasts there’s the Ultra difficulty. I see this as a questionable design decision, as I’d assume the core audience for Crazy Machines 3 are those who played Crazy Machines 2, and seeing as they’re extremely similar, the gating of progression behind the lower difficulty could be frustrating for that crowd.
For those wishing to continue their experience beyond the levels offered by the developers, there is also a level editor that is integrated with Steam Workshop. I’m sure there will be plenty of people looking to exercise their creativity here, as the tools are quite in depth. Seriously, you can make a machine that can blow up a unicorn.
The puzzles within the campaign are all varied and inventive in design and their solutions, and I found the slow ramp up of tools and contraptions to be pretty fluid for the most part. There is the odd difficulty spike, but that was probably more to my own inability to see the solution than the game’s fault. The game embraces the whacky and the whimsical and will task you in traditional Rube Goldberg fashion to create or fix a convoluted machine, that - through a chain of events - sets off X event or fixes Y problem. This is both the game's greatest strength and it’s core weakness.
It is not all sunshine and roses, though. The UI causes some problems when you are attempting to build or fix machinery. You are presented with a grid and a small gear can take four little boxes. Positioning the gears so that they also connect to other gears on this grid can be an exercise in frustration. It is not a game-breaker, but can be annoying.
HERE’S THE POINT?
Crazy Machines 3 is unapologetically a puzzle game about fixing, creating and customizing crazy machines. In that regard the game is solid. For puzzle aficionados maybe that’s all they need. However, in a year where we got The Witness and Steven’s Sausage Roll, Crazy Machines 3 does little to stand out from the competition and even its own series. Much like Peter Griffin and his failed breakfast contraption you might ask “What’s the point?”
Graphics are surprisingly adept; Music is relaxing, thought inducing, and ambient; Solid and varied puzzles; Level editor
Nothing to convince anyone who isn’t a core puzzle gamer; Blocking levels until lower difficulty levels are beaten; The frustration of trying to get the gear pieces to fit into each other