Submachine watercolor #4


10 years of Submachine – and now what?

I’ll try to keep it short, however we’ve got a lot to cover here, so bear with me. The Submachine is over, and with it, an actual era of my career. 10-year long era. I’ll explain in detail what will happen right now and the reasons why it’s happening. It’s all caused by the patreon-induced transparency, as this is the first year where I feel obliged to keep you guys in the loop about what’s going on and why. I’ll break the wall of text into smaller chapters, each named appropriately. That being said, here’s the first one:



Submachine watercolor #3


2015 wrap-up


Now, for the first time, this feels right. Wrapping things up, telling you what happened in 2015, because now I use Patreon and your kind donations to create. It is only fitting for me to tell you what you got for your money’s worth. Actually a lot happened and you can see most of it in the above collage. Then we’ll talk about what’s coming up next, and that’s a handful as well.


Submachine 10, -ak-‘s review

The end of era.

A decade worth of intrigues, mysteries, and theories all come together in an absolute full loop and ended resoundingly in the only place where we could possibly be.

Rest assured that the majestic and atmospheric network of Submachine has deserved its proper conclusion to one of the most creatively-crafted PNC series ever conceived by taking you to places you never expected to land and still managed to enjoy their ominous architectures while solving deviously designed puzzles. We expected nothing less from outer dimension of the mind, Mateusz Skutnik, and yet he still deliver unexpected development that’s the core signature of Submachine series.

Submachine 10: the Exit is the game we ardent fans absolutely deserve the chance to play a main Submachine game one last time, one that Mateusz deserves to end the series with.


Submachine 10, Dragon Flames review

Wow… just wow… I wonder if the concept is that M wanted to help people escape the Submachine like the Matrix idea, and each time he goes after one, the sub-machine resets itself or if every sublayer actually has the exact same thing and one more person is able to escape using the clues left in the notes infused with karma. Who invented the submachine? How many people before me (the person who just escaped) was able to get out?
I guess time and space doesn’t exist per say in the Submachine, or else it can pass by at a different rate, but it seems that our time travelers are aging a bit.
You know, Mr. Skutnik, It might have been 10 years for you, but ever since the Lab, ( Sub 4 I believe), I have been replaying every one of your Submachine games from the beginning. I just finished doing so now. I will admit that I don’t have the ability not to use a hint here or there, especially for some pesky little secrets ( like the one in the red storage room in this game), but I have enjoyed every moment of it. It’s because of artists like you that I work hard in order to make more than I need… so that I can offer you monthly contributions through Patreon. However, right now I can’t, so I play the games and give reviews… It’s been…. never that a game or series of game left me with the emptiness that lingers within a fan when a series ends. I have played series that have lasted far beyond 10 parts, but they haven’t come close to the involvement that I have felt playing your games… Especially the questions I am left with.

I have yet to know if you had planned Submachine 10 to tie into the other submachines as well as you did, or if you just used whatever you could to tie it all together, since pointless aspects in other games, like the Arcade game in the Lighthouse basement, were rather pointless in their original apperance. But it really doesn’t matter. It was stitched together seamlessly and flawlessly.
I still have about 9’900 characters allowed that are left, and I would gladly use them to sing your praises, but, in all honestly, I am just awestruck and amazed at the experiance you have created and I have shared with you through your game. You are an amazing game master creator, a wonderful storyteller, and a beautiful historian by capturing aspects of the past in each of your games.
Well done. Bravo. Kudos and farewell.
Until your next release.

December 24, 2015

Submachine 10, Martin Bak review

For more than 10 years, the Polish artist Mateusz Skutnik has excited fans of point n’click adventures around the world with his unique submachine series. On average, there has been a new game every year, and this year he has put an end to the series with the masterpiece “Submachine 10 – The Exit”.

Where other publishers of this game type often calls to small quickly made game with questionable graphics and more or less random tasks to be solved, Mateusz goes another way. His game is hand drawn. So how true hand-drawn with pen, paper and colors. And his creativity sends the player on an exceptionally beautiful and thoughtful adventure through ingenious locations where strange mechanisms and plasma and karma portals must work to get it all to go up to a higher level. Along the way we are explaind of this strange phenomenon via messages that slowly reveals what “submachine” really is – but without it ever becomes quite understandable.

But beautiful and entertaining it is.

His game has evolved over time. Sub-1, which was published for more than 10 years ago, was a relatively simple game. Still very accomplished but as nothing compared to what was to come. For each episode, the games become increasingly perfected and advanced, both graphically and in relation to the tasks complexity. Each new episode has revealed a little more of submachines being.

In Submachine 10 – has just come out, he gathers all the threads. We are led back through all the previous games, the scenes we know, but the ravages of time are clearly visible. Places we’ve seen in previous episodes are jammed or broken, but still needed for this grand finale. The game is probably the largest and most complete point n ‘click game yet seen. And at the same time incomprehensible beautifully made. He has spent almost two years to make this game, and you understand why.

I just played sub-10 It took me 3 days. But three days consumed with curiosity and wonder.
Mateusz offers a free version of its online gaming. There you get a relatively small screen to play on, but it’s still a great experience. If you want all the details, however one should spend the $ 5 (about 35 kr.) As it costs to buy sub-10 in HD and full screen, or the $ 25 for the entire series.

Martin Bak

Where is 2016?



Submachine 10, notes in Chinese

10 : The Exit

We the King welcome you in Northern Garden docks.
Anyone who seeks peace and calmness will find it under the leaves of our blessed florae.


– We’re in a loop.
– Yes, I know, there are time anomaly leaks everywhere, but we’re not in one right now. Are we?
– No, not horizontal loop. Vertical one.
– What do you mean?
– Look through my microscope. And then through my telescope. You’ll see.

– 我們在一個迴圈中。
– 是的,我知道,到處都有時間扭曲的異常痕跡,但我們目前不在它們之中,沒錯吧?
– 可惜不是,這次不是水平概念的循環,是垂直的。
– 什麼意思?
– 看看我的顯微鏡。再看看這個望遠鏡,你會明白的。


– I’ve found my grave today. A proper tomb, in fact…
– Well, I guess that’s bound to happen sooner or later if you’re a time traveller.
– I’ve also found your tomb, right next to mine.
– Oh, that’s so sweet of them.

– 我今天找到自己的墳墓了。還蠻像樣的,說實在話….
– 嗯,我想身為一個時間旅行者,這種事早晚會發生。
– 我也找到了妳的墳墓,就在我的旁邊。
– 哦,他們真貼心。

– Do you know how many numbers are there between 0 and 1.
– … Infinite?…
– Exactly. There is a countless number of sub-layers between any two main layers of reality. The important thing to remember is that as there are seven main layers, all stable, as all their sub-layers, there is also the eighth layer, known as the layer of light, which is not stable and it can float freely through all other layers. Murtaugh was trapped in the eighth layer once, that’s why he was unable to focus his being on a single layer. Fortunately Elizabeth managed to snap him out of this trap.

– …無限多? …
-完全正確,在兩個主要的象限中,也一樣有著無數層的sub-layer現實。你要記住的是,這世上有7個主要的次元,全都很穩定,而至於在他們之間的那些sub-layer,則被包含在第八象限(或稱光之次元)之中,它並不穩定,而因此可以在其他的象限間自由浮動。 Murtaugh當時就是被困在這第八層象限,所以無法將自己的存在凝聚在單一的次元之內。好加在最後Elizabeth成功把他帶出了這個絕境。

– If there is countelss number of sub-layers, it’s practically impossible for two people the end up in the same layer, right?
– Yes, good observation.
– But the non-living matter can be persistant between layers.
– Yes, there are special building materials mixed with just a hint of karmic water. This technique was discovered during the Fourth Dynasty.
– Naturally. The architects of the Plan…
– So you can imagine how a non-living sentient organism, powered by the super-intelligence of Shiva was able to embrace all layers at once. The Submachine is now living in five dimentions.

– 如果世上有無限多層sub-layer的話,那理論上兩個人出現在同一層內的機率幾乎是不可能,沒錯吧?
– 對,觀察力不錯。
– 但那些無生命的物質卻能持續橫跨在層與層之間。
– 是的,他們在一些特殊的建材中混進了少量的業力水,這個技術大約在第四王朝時被發現。
– 可想而知,那個計畫的建築師們…
– 所以你就能想像一個無生命的感知有機體,在經過濕婆的超智慧加持後,如何能夠同時佇立於所有象限之中了。如今的Submachine已生活在五維的世界之中。

– You can’t fix everything, just let it go. Submachine doesn’t need your help. It’s fine as it is.
– You know you’re taking away my life’s goal, right?
– We’ll find you a new one, don’t worry. You were part of this organism, I admit, a crucial one, but just a part nonetheless. You can’t think of yourself any bit higher. That would be arrogant, and’t that’s not you anymore.
– What would I do without you, my dear…

– 你不可能修復每一樣事物,就讓它去吧。Submachine不需要你的幫忙,它可以自己過得很好。
– 妳知道自己在奪走我的人生目標,對吧?
– 我們會幫你找到個新的,別擔心。你是我們這個大家庭的一份子,而且我承認,是很重要的那部分,但你也就只是其中之一,不應該把自己想的太過重要。這樣不僅很自大,而且也就不再是原本的你了。
– 如果沒有妳我該怎麼辦啊,親愛的…

– So how did he escape after all?
– Through the lighthouse, naturally. how else?…

– 所以他到底是怎麼逃脫的呢?
– 透過燈塔,當然啦,要不然呢?…

– I’ll come back to the shrine every 32 years. I promise, anyone who still listens to this frequency.


Light crown converter needed to connect light crown to the fuse outlet.


Dear Elizabeth!
I’am so close! You won’t believe how much progress I’ve done in last… How long was it?… 3.5 years? My lord, it feels good to be focused again.
I know this sounds stupid, but as a time traveller I have to say it feels good to see time run by you.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. My theory of focused karma was correct! I have scientific evidence at my laboratory. Once it doesn’t penetrate any two given layers creating a portal – it actually restores previously destroyed sub-molecular order.
Now, all I need is some kind of… portable karma stabiliser, and I’m good to go!
Just imagine – stable and secure karmic portals. Would you believe that?

總之,回到話題上。我關於集中業力的理論是正確的!我的研究室裡有科學證據。只要在創造傳送門時它沒有穿透任兩層 – 它就可以恢復先前摧毀掉的sub-分子排列順序。
想像一下 – 穩定而安全的業力傳送門。妳能相信嗎?

Dear Murtaugh.
That’s great news. Please remember one thing. Submachine didn’t wait for this discovery, it moved on and is healing itself, as any normal organism would. Did you see the power generator in the oldest sections of the root? The one destroyed by your portal long time ago? Now it’s being rebuilt by five karmic veins. If you haven’t seen it – please do, it’s a remarkable proof that Submachine became sentient being.

真是個好消息。不過請記得一件事,Submachine並沒有在等待這項發現,它繼續成長並努力修復它自己,就像任何生命體會做的。你看過根源中最古老的區域裡那台發電機了嗎?很久以前被你的傳送門破壞掉那台?它現在已經被五道業力流重建了。如果你還沒看過的話 – 請去看一眼,這足以證實Submachine已經成為了一個有感知能力的存在。

– Wait, Submachine was already sentient that early?
– Of course. The mainframe of Submachine became conscious once it’s processing power surpassed that of the human brain. They asked the question, remember? And Shiva answered. Submachine was sentient for at least 32 days before that.
– Now I understand. Shiva is the brain, Submachine is the body. It’s all so clear now.

– 等等,Submachine那麼早就有感知功能了?
– 當然了。Submachine的主機在它的處理能力凌駕人腦的那一刻,就已經存在知覺了。它們問了那個問題,記得嗎?濕婆回答了。而Submachine至少在那之前32天就已經獲得了感知的能力。
– 現在我懂了。濕婆就像是大腦,而Submachine則作為身體存在。現在一切都明瞭了。

– But how is it possible, that she knew the Submachine was sentient and reasoning? That’s like Lumiere brothers talking about retina cinema of the early 21st century.
– Don’t forget, that’s Elizabeth you’re talking about. Right?
– … Right…

– 但這怎麼可能,她怎麼可能這麼早就知道Submachine是理性而且有感知的?這就好像盧米埃兄弟在討論21世紀初的Retina電影院一樣。
– 別忘了,我們在說的可是Elizabeth,對吧?
– …對…

– I think you’re ready to enter the Submachine. You know more than enough and will probably find out more on your journey. Remember, this can destroy or transform you. But you will not return the same man. May the wisdom of Thoth guide you.
– Thank you, holy usher. I will not fail you.
– Don’t fail yourself, my young disciple.

– 我想你已經準備好要進入Submachine了。你知道的東西已經綽綽有餘,而且還可能在這趟旅途中學到更多。記住,這可能會摧毀你、改變你,但當你歸來,你將不再是原本的自己。願托特的智慧指引你的道路。
– 感謝你,神聖的引導人,我不會讓你失望的。
– 重點是別讓自己失望,我年輕的門徒啊。

– How will you know that they’re coming?
– I’ll keep my eye on the lighthouse. Once the lamp goes off, they’ll be coming.
– But that lamp is behind steel curtains…
– Don’t worry. I’ll know once it’s off.

– 你要怎麼知道他們來了?
– 我會隨時注意著燈塔,一旦燈熄滅,就代表他們的到來。
– 但那盞燈已經被鐵帳擋住…
– 別擔心,它一熄滅我就會知道。

Are we alone in the Submachine? Well, yes, but you can always feel somebody right beside you, doing the same things you do in the submachine. Just one sub-layer away. That’s comforting, isn’t it?


What happened to sunshine_bunnygirl_17? Don’t worry, I took care of her. I transported her to the first layer, she’s taking care of Einstein when I’m not around.


Will I ever come back to the Submachine? Well, of course. There are more people still trapped there, my mission is to navigate the sub-layer infinity to find them and bring them home.


Is Submachine real? Or just a dream? Well, if Submachine is only a dream, I still haven’t woken up from it. I mean, as fas as I know, it’s real, all of it.


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for playing Submachine, for finding all secrets and sticking around for as long as you did. For me this journey lasted 10 years, I know that for some fo you too. Thank you and see you in the next game!
Mateusz Skutnik


Mateusz Skutnik



Submachine 10, Jatsko review

I was going to write a review for Submachine 10.
But that’s impossible. With the newest release, it’s all or nothing. So I’ll focus on Submachine 10, but I guarantee you’ll hear about every other (main) game too in the following text.
It’s been ten years. I came across Submachine and really started following it right after Submachine 8 was released. So I haven’t been here from the beginning, but I’ve had more than enough time to become acquainted. Lost, even.
What makes Submachine special? What makes it different from other room escape games on the Internet? Why does it stand out?
The answer is simple; it’s all about the environment.
Take your basic room escape game. If you’re a game developer, you can make the puzzles as easy or as difficult as you want. You can control the number of items you put in the game.

A room escape game. But that’s it.
Submachine surpasses this. It offers more perspectives to please more than just the casual gamer. (And let’s be honest, you’re not a casual gamer if you tackle Submachine 10).
What does it offer? Submachine offers not just a game, but an environment. Turn the lights off and close the curtains in your room, put on your headphones, and you’ve instantly left Earth and ended up…below ground, it seems. The point is, you’re not sitting in your basement hunched over a computer screen. You’re IN Submachine. Submachine IS your world.
How does one accomplish this? How does one make a seemingly simple game concept (escape the room: Go!) turn into an elaborate journey?
Let’s see. First, let’s talk about what you see. In order to provide the opportunity for people to leave their reality and delve into their own thoughts, you have to produce art to which they can respond. Submachine IS art. Each screen, whether you look at detailed bricks and stone or gaze over a precipice into the Void, provides an individual painting. Add these together in a single game and you really understand what each location is about. Each location tells its own story. You can see the crumbling bricks in the Root and feel the first architects that designed it. It’s better than glazing over a rectangular wall clicking for pixels.
My point: Mateusz Skutnik provides the best eye-candy ever seen in a point n’ click. It looks good. It’s not a bunch of polygons thrown together in a beginner computer program. Skutnik successfully has built his own artstyle. It looks like reality, but you can still tell that it’s all Skutnik’s work. The amount of time spent into simply drawing each location, what with lighting, shading, and getting the colors and contrasts just right, pulls your eyes in immediately. If nothing else, his games are pretty. They’re almost real. You want to be there. It’s games like these where you want to BE IN THE GAME ITSELF that have attracted avid indie-gobblers for years (myself included). How would you want to stand under one of the beautiful arches in the Cardinal mosque? Wouldn’t you want to climb the twisting staircases of the Temple? What about crossing a bridge made of light?
So he has visuals down. But what about actual gameplay? We’ll come back to that. First we must attack the driving storyline that ties everything together.
Room escapes don’t really have much of a story. Sure, they have similarities if it’s a multiple-part series, but there’s not much of a story, usually. It’s nostly the genre name: escape the room. But Skutnik goes farther than that. It’s not satisfying to place the last item and say “yay I’m done.” *Proceeds to find more room escape games on the Internet*
Skutnik provides us with a story that has been keeping people guessing for years. Is the Submachine underground? Is it in space? Is it nowhere? What time is it? Room escape games don’t give you this thought process. Usually it’s the same. You’re in a room. Get out. You’re done! Sure it’s a mental exercise, but it’s not a workout. Skutnik makes us question things we shouldn’t be questioning. Yes, we’re in a room. But where is this room? WHEN is this room? Didn’t I see another version of this room before? Why isn’t gravity working here? What the hell is this karma stuff I keep seeing? How did I get here?
Basic questions, shot to bits. Casual room escape games close the doors on us. “You’re in a room with one door”. Submachine takes out the doors by the hinges, and then proceeds to smash the walls down too, then removes the ceiling and the floor. It leaves you exposed. “Make this portal work. Then take it to six or seven different places, and THEN you might find a way out.” Another example: A casual room escape game makes it easy to guess why you’re here. Why are you locked in the room? Maybe you partied too hard and your friends locked you in, somehow. Maybe you’re writing it off as a “social experiment”, and that’s why you woke up in an unfamiliar room. Anyway, you’re not interested in that as you are just wanting to get out. Submachine thinks differently. In the beginning it might look like you just dropped in for a nice arcade game; suddenly you’re finding out you were sent by a “higher-up” to do his dirty work. Oh, and evidently you worked with mysterious blue polygons before. Is the higher-up good? Bad? Dead? Who knows? Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is human, even?
Casual room escapes give you casual items. Here, have a screwdriver! (aka, look for screws). Your basic layman can solve this. Submachine is a bit more involved. Have a navigator! (wtf?) Figure it out! See you in Layer Eight! Here, have a location that stretches endlessly in all directions! Or one that loops back on itself! We’ll give you a compass, don’t worry ;) (depending on which cycle you’re in) It takes more than usual to wrap your head around what you are given. It’s not immediately apparent what a portal stabiliser or a power generator is used for. It’s not immediately obvious why you have a plasma ball, much less two or three. Submachine refuses to have games that you play when you’re just trying to distract yourself from your homework due tomorrow. Skutnik demands that his games offer more. There’s a story behind the staircases. There’s a myth between the rungs of the ladders. Figure it out. You, the Player, might be involved, here for a bigger reason.
All this for one goal: to stand out to people to crave a higher level of intelligence. These games require wit and real cognitive thinking, not just an eye for pixels on a screen. Submachine is smart, and therefore demands smart-ness from its players. Skutnik has successfully developed a series that makes players play it for the puzzles. NOT to get to the end, however satisfying that might feel. It’s the puzzles themselves, not the path to freedom. They don’t want to escape. After my first playthrough of Sub9 my most thought-upon question was: How is he going to top this? What is better than having me running around the same set of rooms in multiple realities? What is better than teleporting to different locations? What is better than trying to rebuild statues or restore relics of ancient civilizations? There’s always something new. Some new twist to the mechanic. Sure, it’s always items, but the items are always different. It’s not just looking behind a couch for a screwdriver.
So Skutnik has astounding visuals in Submachine, a story that craves answers to questions, and puzzles that want not so much to be solved as understood and marveled at. And he caters to a crowd by advertising more than moving your mouse around. He invites us to think, and we end up doing so. Sounds pretty mindless-less for a game, don’t you think? Everything is planned to offer a better gaming experience, for those who want it.
Also, might I mention the killer soundtrack composed by Thumpmonks in every game that EACH AND EVERY TIME fits its surroundings. I could go on and on about every track saved in my iTunes library that’s labeled “Artist: Thumpmonks” (around 100 tracks by this point), but I won’t. I can only say this: they’re needed just as much as anything else in these games if the player is to be properly immersed in their glory. A glory of broken realities, misunderstood scientists, and advanced technology. I’m listening to the Sub4 Lab ambient as I write this (which is probably adding to my overexcitement to be writing this and therefore is contributing to its possible incoherence of thoughts)
So all this writing and I haven’t really said anything about Submachine 10 explicitly (at least, I feel like it’s a lot of writing. I haven’t typed this much in a long time). The reason is that Submachine 10 is special: it embodies ALL the characteristics of Submachine displayed over the last ten years. Besides the obvious allusion to the inclusion of one location – at least – from each main game prior, The Exit is simply a culmination of all the concepts that have made Submachine special. Portals? Sure! Karma portals? Of course! Valves? Yes! Cryptic notes? Double yes! All the things that people have come to love about this series over the past decade are thrown in a large melting pot 473 screens large (from a source who has been scanning the Subnet for all eternity). Submachine 10 first and foremost is the perfect nostalgia trip, and its length and surprises around every corner make the trip more than a temporary high.
Some thoughts I had while playing:
“I can’t believe there are lab portals in this game!”
“There are karma portals too? No way!”
“Oh no, we did NOT just finally put something in that box in the wall of the Root.”
and possibly my favorite internal thought:

I know for me, anytime I hear a mention of Submachine, I flip out. It’s that kind of game. It doesn’t require the constant attention of mainstream media. That’s not in the formula for success. It’s not a game YouTubers play. It’s not a game discussed in multiple forums (just one!). It is discussed quite frequently, but the community is contained and comfortable, huddling around the red and blue candles in the Pyramid while major fandoms flow uncontained and rampant like red resin. The community is relatively small but it has proven to be one of the most concentrated and dedicated ones I have seen. I have had the pleasure of meeting about forty different people, maybe more, in the fan forum whose community actions have been the result of ten years of hard work from an indie developer. Art is produced. Stories are made. Jokes are made (both inside jokes and lame ones too). And of course, there’s always questions. Why does this thing exist? What purpose does this object serve? Each game gives a different personal experience for each player that we are able to share in a solid fanbase. Some people focus on the art. Some people want to figure out the grand purpose. Some people drop a note saying that they Submachine in their own reality. See an interesting-shaped arch or a complex control panel lately? That was Submachine’s work.
Submachine 10 brings all this together. It is made to serve its loyal players. Do you like solving puzzles? Sub10 is the ultimate test. Do you like marveling at new and interesting architecture? Gaze upon these ornate statues and twisting staircases. Did you like Submachine 3, or coordinates 245, 555, 690, or any other loops found in the Subverse? Let’s give you a few of those. You like fork? I give you fork. Also, have spoon. Do you want answers to the most confusing questions about Shiva, the Layers, and what happened to Mur and Liz? Yes you can, but you’re gonna have to work for it. If you are an avid fan, you simply cannot be let down by this game. It has everything you’ve wanted.
It’s a celebration, more than anything. A celebration both of the decade of development and of the path of the Player. It all ends here, and at the same time, it doesn’t. Besides that fact that more games are coming out, fans can re-experience the enjoyment and satisfaction that they have been experiencing since 2005. And Mateusz did it right. It’s apparent that he gave everything, left arm and all, to make this game the grand finale it deserves to be.
There’s not much more for me to say. I thought that I had more to talk about after playing the game that was, almost impossibly, three times as large as it’s prequel. Yet I’m still sitting here, trying to decode what exactly I played yesterday afternoon. I still have the headache. (A good one, don’t worry).
I feel like in a week I’ll have more to say regarding the nitty-gritty of the gameplay and all that. But it doesn’t really matter. Some people can call the game “too hard”, “too long”, or “too confusing” if they want. They can say that the puzzles were easy or difficult. They can obsess over all the possible uses for a “long stick”. In the end, it all gets wrapped up in a big package and sent with a bow on top. Inside the package is the way forward, but it’s only achieved by going backwards nine different times. It screws with you. But of course it’s what you wanted. It’s why you eagerly waited for the progress bar to inch forward. It’s why you had the internal struggle over whether or not you wanted to see teasers released. It’s why rabbits went extinct (!).
It’s a big present. Are you ready to open it up? Because it might open you up instead.

Author: Jatsko

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