Submachine 5: The Root
All hail, rejoice, Hallelujah! Put on your party hats and shine your shoes, for it is a day of great celebration: the fifth coming of the Submachine. The parade is about to begin, the marching band is just getting warmed up, and...hey, where is everyone? Guys? You're all going to miss the fireworks display, and Cirque du Soleil is performing! Oh, the jugglers look so sad. Where on Earth could everyone be? I just don't....
Oh. Oh, right. You're all glued to your monitors, aren't you? Point-and-clicking away maniacally, like the addicts you are. Fine, I guess I'll just have to throw away all these commemorative Wisdom Gem t-shirts. What? No, I'm not upset. I mean, I did just spend half my savings on this gem-encrusted "portal" float, but that's ok. That second job at McDonald's should help me pay off the loan in, oh, 15 years or so.
.....ok, enough with the sillies. In all seriousness, this is an exciting day. Murtaugh, aka Mateusz Skutnik, has been a Casual Gameplay superstar practically since the debut of his Submachine series, way back in September of '05. The original Submachine was a fairly easy, relatively simple point-and-clicker that nonetheless became quite popular due to its clever puzzles and clean design. As enjoyable as it was, in my mind the real brilliance of the series began with its sequel, Submachine 2: The Lighthouse, which began in earnest to develop the spooky, enigmatic plot that has continued throughout the rest of the games. In Murtaugh's words, "it's all about puzzle-solving and escaping from closed installations of submerged machines (hence the title sub-machines)." It's not nearly that simple, however; you'll need to play the games to discover more.
Submachine 5: The Root brings the player to what was perhaps the beginning of your long, arduous adventure, the first created Submachine structure. It is the "root" of your quest, and for the first time a bit of light is shed on why and how your journey began. Anyone familiar with the point-and-click genre will find the game easily comprehensible and accessible.
Analysis: The Root does not disappoint. Unsurprisingly, Murtaugh has once again created a beautifully atmospheric, immersive, challenging-but-not-confounding game that leaves the player eagerly awaiting the next chapter. I love how the games' stylistic details mirror and complement the environment and content; from the mechanical noises when switching screens to the near-lack of ambient noise, every aspect of the game reflects the feeling of being inside of a machine. The structure and mechanics of the game are the same as previous chapters, though a few interesting elements are added (I especially like the automatic note-taking function).
My one real frustration with the games is how easily it is to become thoroughly lost while playing (though perhaps that's part of the point). A map would be invaluable, and at least in the context of this particular Submachine would make sense. Still, a minor gripe to a fabulous game.
A word to the wise: While each Submachine can be played and enjoyed without context, I highly, highly advise players new to the series to start at the beginning. A significant part of the pleasure of playing the games are the "aha!" moments when a connection is made between one chapter or another, when the dimensions of the story begin to be perceived. While the Submachines are each well-made, fun point-and-click games, the mystery infused into the series is what makes them truly special. Ah, how I envy you, first-time Submachiners! A bounty of gaming goodness awaits you, a veritable cornucopia of superb casual gameplay.
For the rest of us, it's back to the machine:
We've been here covering the entire Submachine series since the very beginning with reviews and walkthroughs for all of them...
Outside the main storyline, and yet still another great Submachine, is a game created for the band Future Loop Foundation:
- The original Submachine
- Submachine Remix (extended version)
- Submachine Zero: Ancient Adventure
- Submachine 2: The Lighthouse
- Submachine 3: The Loop
- Submachine 4: The Lab
- Submachine 5: The Root
- Submachine 6: The Edge
- Submachine 7: The Core
- Submachine Network Exploration Experience
- Submachine: 32 Chambers
- Submachine 8: The Plan (NEW!)
- Submachine: Future Loop Foundation