Preview by TigerMacz
“Is The Machine ready to go?” – Christopher Morris
Incub8 Games, who recently had success with the Infinity Game Boy game Kickstarter, is bringing another new release to the system called The Machine. It is developed by Ben Jelter, with music composed by Lunchz. I have had a quick playthrough of this press ROM to give my thoughts on how it is shaping up. The Machine is set within the Titular tank tracked megalopolis nightmare, with some inspiration in the vein of the classic film Metropolis where the higher you live on the machine the more well off you are.
You play as Girt who, at the start of the game, is late for a test at school that decides what can happen next. You can guess, try to answer or cheat but only if the teacher isn’t looking otherwise you fail the test. Apparently not scoring high enough means you won’t be able to go to the job fair and you’re thrust into real life. When you leave you run into your Uncle Bop who is a member of the Machine’s Police force and can offer to try and get you into the Police Academy, while near him as a factory worker called Joey who can get you a job with him so you have a choice.
I chose the factory worker shift where you have to sort the numbered boxes on conveyor belts and switching tracks to get them into the correct chute. I ended up getting Girt sacked when Terp, one of the managers of the factory, tricked me into making a new quota and I kept messing up. Because I lost the job it meant that the room-mate I was living with, called Toe, kicked me out and I ended up living on the lower level of the Machine in a squat.
During this time news reports were showing that there were economic issues inside the machine and political intrigue around an election. The MAWA party and the VOLF are at odds and your interactions can effect the outcome which plays into the different story routes. Girt ended up living in the squat and ended up becoming an artist for a shady art dealer after helping him with a con. This meant I had to do a rhythm mini game to make a painting but I found that the controls needs some work. It would mistime inputs or register inputs when nothing was pressed or you had to double press to make sure it registered. The same can be said for the other mini games I played. There were also some graphical issues where they flickered in places or layering issues. I hope these can be fixed in the final release.
The art style for The Machine is interesting and has the feel of a city but also parts look bio-mechanical. It is creepy and I do like the unique character designs for the characters, the music is also interesting by adding to the foreboding nature of living in the machine. Girt ended up tagging a lot of areas with paint and held an art exhibition but the person after I helped with the con. I tried keeping a low profile and nobody was interested in my art work which ended up with Girt being homeless. I made a final piece of art on a wall before disappearing which got an ending where it became a focal point and then a developer pulled it down.
Another feature of the machine is that the game loops back to the first day back in school and any information you learned is carried over which is an interesting mechanic. I have ended up playing the game with various outcomes but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I really enjoy The Machine, or at least this preview build. It genuinely is a game I would be interested in and would love to own as it has various story paths. The art style and music are engaging and if the control and graphical issues can be sorted this will be a great game.
We are still waiting news on when the Kickstarter will go live but I would like to wish Ben Jelter and Incub8 games the best with the upcoming release of The Machine. Remember The Machine grinds on….