The Machine – Collectors Edition Review

Reviewed by Nicholas “SmugeeBear” McDonald.

“Is this real..”

Ben Jelter, a man with a vision and several indie Game Boy inspired projects, sees The Machine receive a physical release courtesy of Incube8 games. Earlier in its development I was excited for the game when I previewed it and helped with tracking some bugs. But now that the game has finally been to the public there is a variety of ways the game can be played, with several versions a digital release which is the ROM of the game which can be played via emulator or loaded onto cartridge, a standard physical edition along with a limited collectors edition.

I was originally provided a digital copy of the code, courtesy of Mr. Jelter while the physical edition I purchased was in transit. The art work on the box is gorgeous where it shows beautiful art work of the machine with a nice foil embossed logo of Incube8 games with screenshots on the back of the box. Inside of the collectors edition is the manual in colour, 2 sticker sheets with various characters from the machine beautifully in Ben Jelter’s artistic style, a certificate of authenticity, a music CD of the games soundtrack by Lunchz a code for the digital edition of the soundtrack, 2 pin badges of 2 characters and the cartridge itself which is in this clear black plastic and had a nice piece of art on the back printed onto the cartridge of the M.S.S.

“Everybody Dies…”

The Machine is set within the titular machine a behemoth on tracks which is also a socioeconomic nightmare. You play as the Character named Girt who serves at the metaphor for us the player as a school test sets the direction where there game will go, we score better on the test the game can lead on one path while failing leads to the other. There is multiple ways on where the game would go story wise and ultimately the ending, where your choices do actually change the outcome and which characters you interact with.

Throughout the setting there is a political undercurrent that plays behind the scenes with reports on the news with socioeconomic issues happening inside the machine but also political intrigue being that there’s an election between different classes that live on the machine and your interactions can effect the outcome. There are several mini games through out Girt’s adventure which tie in with his job at the time, for example a shooting mini game to sorting boxes to a variety of others. The issues I reported during the preview with control and graphical issues have been fixed where the controls feel pretty responsive.

The art style and Music for The Machine are the most fascinating aspect as it has a feel of a city but also parts look bio mechanical which would give H.R. Geiger a run for this money and I do like the unique character designs for the characters where they both look distinct and individual but also slightly unnerving at the same time, Soundtrack by Lunchz also fits in with the machine with tracks that give you this sense of foreboding of living on the Machine but also tracks that completely lifts or alters the mood.

The main draw of the machine is the game loops back to the first day back in school and any information you learned that can be used carries over which is intriguing if you want to try to see if there is a different gameplay path you haven’t discovered. During my review I’ve played through paths which were completely different from when I last played the preview copy.

“The Machine grinds on”

During my preview several months ago I highly recommended it as a game to look out for as something that was interesting but also something that isn’t like your typical game, I find the premise interesting along with the characters and also the style of the game made me immediately hooked that I fell in love with it and I felt emotionally invested with the characters. I recommend The Machine even if your not sure the digital option is a cheap enough entry-point to give it a punt.

Disclosures: Digital Copy was provided for free by Ben Jelter, Collectors edition was purchased at my own expense and I reported bugs I found in the preview release during development.