The story of Josef, the robot, of course, begins in a scrapheap, where he finds himself dumped. Here, he re-assembles himself and sets off for the city, the so-called Machinarium – a rusty, weird place, inhabited by robots, in search for his girlfriend. Here, he discovers a plot by the Black Cap Brotherhood, his three thuggish antagonists, to blow up the city’s tower, the siege of its leader.
From the beginning, we like the little Josef, with its short legs, his swinging walk, big head and extendable body, communicating using symbols, pictures and animated images. It’s a real pleasure to be his partner in this amazing journey, full of surprises, despite of the more and more complicated brain teasers. The incredible charm of this game is represented by the unique characters, the industrial landscape, the short memory flashes that help you find out more about Josef, the small weird creatures and the machineries, all drawn with great finesse.
Judging by the way this game is created we could say this is “an animation in progress”. We discover the story through each step we take within the imaginary city. The appraised „Machinarium” is the first full-length game developed by Amanita Design (2009), followed by “Botanicula” in 2012.
“Botanicula” tells the story of a group of five little tree creatures, who set out for a journey to save the last seed from their home tree, which is infested by parasites.
But, what’s the story of Amanita Design? Amanita Design is an independent video game development studio based in the Czech Republic. It was established in 2003 by Jakub Dvorský, which graduated from the Academy of arts in Prague with a free online game called „Samorost”, nominated in 2004 to Webby Awards.
Surrealistic organic scenarios mix natural and technological concepts, original characters and a unique musical atmosphere within the “Samorost” flash game. In 2005, the animator Václav Blín joined the studio to create „Samorost 2” (Webby Awards, 2007). A sequel for Samorost is planned.
Nominated for BAFTA Awards in 2008 (Children’s Awards), „Questionaut” (2008) is an online educational game created for BBC, challenging you to answer questions from different areas of knowledge in order to accomplish the given quest. I should mention, also, „Rocketman” (2004) – a mini-game created for Nike Lab website and „The Quest for the Rest” (2004), a short game created for The Polyphonic Spree, a choral symphonic band from Dallas, Texas, formed in 2000 by Tim DeLaughter.
„Kooky” (2010) is an iPad App that includes feature film, illustrated book, behind-the-scenes movie, drawing and mini-game. „Kooky” tells the story of a little boy whose parents force him to throw away his favorite toy, a teddy bear named Kooky. Kooky comes to life and goes to a mysterious forest, where he begins an amazing adventure amongst the creatures of the forest. The film combines techniques of puppet animation, stop motion and live action.
From Dvorský’s first animation exercises, from the raw, simplified, almost geometric drawing, to the delicacy of details and complexity of the stories from the more recent works, the small studio captivates the passionate indie game lovers and a more sensitive public with somewhat attachment for the magic of childhood and its imaginary fantastic world that comes to life before our eyes.