10 | Getting Lost in the Submachine…

Submachine came to my attention when someone posted on a forum about some game on a gaming site one night, so I decided to check it out.  That game wasn’t very good, and I spent quite a bit of time going through game after game after game on the site (whatever it was) to not being satisfied with any of them, hardly.

Oh look!  There’s a Pac-Man clone. Hey,  it’s not very good, they didn’t do anything new to it at all, why is this even HERE? Oh, here’s a clone of ____ (insert some popular game from the 80s), oh, it sucks too.  And here’s a clone of ____ (insert another one, blah blah)!  Oh, that’s not very good either! What, here’s a game with some NUDITY in it? Tsk tsk, gratuitous, shameless stuff (uhhhh, not that *I* tried playing them…errrrr, playing it, I mean, no siree)…

So, finally after spending quite a bit of time trying out a bunch of crap (what the hell, I was bored), the name of Submachine sounded promising on the list, so I clicked on that and waited for it to load…

Well, finally, a diamond in the rough, a real gem out of all the other junk on the site.

So I’m in a series of a few rooms, with even fewer objects.  I read the (very brief/almost non-existent) instructions.  I go from room to room and pick up a few objects.  What am I supposed to DO here, and even more so, what do I do with the very few objects that’s in the game so I can beat it?

It wasn’t long before I solved a puzzle and got rewarded with one of the four objects that was needed to beat the game; yay! But it was still taking me quite some time to find the other three items that I needed.

Then, I FINALLY started realizing a few things, which opened up more of the game, and then I beat it a while later…and felt pretty dumb about it too.

In case you couldn’t figure out by the few clues I wrote in here (har), Submachine is one of those ‘escape from the room’-type of games. You’re in a series of rooms with a few objects in this point and click puzzle, and you must figure out what to do with those few objects in order to unearth four tiles that will create an exit so you can make it out of…wherever it is that you are.

Until then, the few sounds that are in the game are decent, providing a bit of atmosphere, especially with several ominous sound effects that make you think something might jump out at you, but nothing does in any of the Submachine games actually (luckily). Control’s perfect, as long as your mouse works, although it makes you wonder how you can zip from room to room and up and down ladders instantly (or does all this exist in your mind? There’s a lot of theories and all about Submachine…), and the graphics are sharp and cartoony, but not in a cheesy way, I liked the way they were drawn.

And that’s pretty much it, I can’t really give out any more or else it’d take away from the game. Like it said in the very brief hints, LOOK AT EVERYTHING. I can’t stress that enough. Think about what it is that you have in your inventory. That’s very simple, yet very important.

And once you make your way through this and want more — I can’t really vouch for it’s replay value, as some people will beat games and never play them again, but I’ve zipped through it occasionally over the months — there’s plenty more: first try out the Extended Version of this, having more rooms, a couple of what were ‘fixed’ puzzle elements in this original that are now random, objects are in different areas of rooms, there’s a new secret or two and a few hints as what would comprise the first sequel of Submachine 2.  The only warning I’ll give is that there is one element where, if you screw up, you can’t win the game.  I think that’s a bit unfair, but there’s walkthroughs available on the net, which, once you get familiar with Submachine, it won’t take you long in starting the game over (if you have to) and redo your steps.  Just do a search for “Submachine video games” and you’ll find this at various gaming sites, as, since entire web sites can go down over time, I’m not much for putting in links in these reviews that will become outdated (and non-existent) later.

Creator Mateusz Skutnik did a great job with this concept, especially since he did several different things as the series unfolded: part 2 is a lot bigger, longer, and the puzzles more difficult; 3 is a departure, having almost zero items to collect whatsoever, just a bunch of puzzles to solve in a series of rooms that are exactly the same, living up to it’s name of The Loop (you’ll see what I mean if you decide to try it out); part 4 finally reveals a part of the story with the experimenting that was done with the Submachine(s?) and revisits several locations from previous Sub games, along with a couple of new ones (at the time); Sub 5 goes back to when the first Submachine was built, etc.

So as of this writing, there are currently five straight (more or less) Submachine games that follow a bizarre story (a diary page found in this game gives clues about it), along with the bonuses of Submachine 0: The Ancient Adventure, which doesn’t take place in the main Submachine storyline (hence why it doesn’t fit in with part 5 claiming to going back as to when the first Submachine was built) and was written for a gaming contest, and Submachine Future Loop Foundation, which has promos for the band Future Loop Foundation contained in the game, although there are nods at past Submachine games in there too though.  Just be prepared to set a bit of time aside for something like this, in order to try to figure the games out.

And not only is Submachine 6 being worked on right now, Skutnik promises a full 10 games of the series. He says the puzzle aspects just come to him, he supposedly doesn’t mull over them much, which, along with creating several other games such as the Daymare Town, Covert Front, and 10 Gnomes series (among many others), it just shows him as to being a real genius with this kind of thing.  After all, I would say who cares about point and click games any more, but there’s much more to it than that, especially with Skutnik’s busy forums being full of people offering all kinds of theories as to what the Submachine games are all about. (Lets see how many other crummy web games out there can boast an audience like that!)

Which is more than I can say about the crappy tons of other games I played on that gaming website that one night, which I’ll never return to any of those ever again.  How many pathetic Pac-Man clones does a person NEED anyway? (Yeah, zero!) 10/10