#MaybeInMarch 2021: Machinarium

Hot on the heels of #LoveYourBacklog comes #MaybeInMarch. Last month, Ellen from Ace Asunder and I encouraged bloggers everywhere to talk about their video game libraries, and now we’re challenging you to play the game that’s been waiting on it the longest.

For the first event in March 2019, I managed to complete LIMBO and was left scratching my head after coming up with a few theories about its ending. This was followed by Thomas Was Alone in 2020 which I didn’t fare so well with: I ended up putting the title to one side after around four hours because I’d had enough. Although I have a few entries from the genre on my in my Steam library, I don’t often pick up or regularly play platformers because they’re just not my cup of tea.

Realising I wouldn’t have to attempt yet another one this this year’s #MaybeInMarch was therefore something of a relief. There was still a choice to be made though as the releases which had been waiting for me the longest this time around were part of a bundle I’d purchased back in July 2013. Would I go for Dragon’s Lair, The Cave, Papa & Yo, Machinarium, Still Life, Still Life 2 or The Path? After some deliberation, I decided to try Amanita Design’s 2009 point-and-click Machinarium.

This wasn’t the first time I’d played it however, as I’d previously got a taste while hanging out with friend-of-the-blog Phil at his apartment one weekend eight years ago. We’d started Machinarium on his iPad but didn’t manage to finish it before I had to leave, so I bought it for myself shortly afterwards. You know what it’s like though; it’s far too easy to get distracted by other games, and one which has never been touched before is always more appealing than one which has already been started.

The story centres on sweet-looking robot Josef after he is dumped on a scrapheap outside his city. After managing to put himself back together and get inside again, he discovers that the Black Cap Brotherhood bullies have kidnapped his girlfriend and are planning to blow up the central tower. It’s up to our hero to put a stop to their dastardly scheme, get rid of the evil gang, rescue the head of the city and fly off into the sunset with his lady, while helping the other robots he meets along the way. That’s just the nice kind of guy he is.

The release’s highlight is its artwork. Everything was drawn by right-handed artist Adolf Lachman using his left so the world wouldn’t look too perfect. This style along with the cut-out animation, a technique were parts of a character’s body are painted separately before being animated frame-by-frame, give both the city and its inhabitants an awful lot of character. Picking up Machinarium again after so many years felt like being warmly welcomed back to place I’d visited a long time ago.

Machinarium, video game, robots, speech bubbles, sewers, drains

The fact that the entire story is told without words is testament to how well the game is designed. Forget sitting through the long dialogues and conversation trees you may expect from the adventure genre; speech bubbles are used to convey the characters’ thoughts and this provides plenty of opportunity for humour. Leave Josef alone for too long and you’ll catch him reminiscing about a previous time with his girlfriend, such as their date at an oil container or when she gave him a birthday cake.

As for the puzzles, the protagonist can extend and shrink his body in size to get to objects and locations initially out of reach – but although this sounds like a central mechanic, it only makes an appearance in several challenges and feels as though it could have featured more frequently. Saying that though, there’s a nice mix of both inventory and environmental conundrums so there’s no chance to get bored, and the solutions for these are never illogical despite usually requiring some thinking.

Some puzzles would likely have been more intuitive if I’d been using a touchscreen to play Machinarium rather than a mouse, but I wouldn’t say that any of them are bad. My solitary gripe with the entire game was that hotspots only became active if Josef was standing right next to them. It’s easy to take it to mean ‘no’ when you click on something on the opposite side of the screen and the robot shakes his head, when he’ll actually do what you’re asking him to if you tell him to walk over there first.

I managed to complete the title in one stream session thanks to some kind little nudges in the right direction from Phil and DavieVanPeer in Twitch chat. It’s the best #MaybeInMarch game I’ve experienced so far and not only because it wasn’t ‘yet another platformer’ this year. LIMBO may have had us thinking about its conclusion and Thomas Was Alone’s narrator elicited some giggles with his humour, but Machinarium was far more endearing that my last two experiences.

Would I say it’s the best point-and-click I’d ever played though? It’s good but I don’t think I’d go that far. The robot-saves-city story just isn’t deep enough for me because it’s the narrative aspect of gaming that I enjoy the most, even though I did have fun during my six-and-a-half hours with the game. It’s still worth picking up if you’re a fan of the genre who hasn’t tried it yet however, because there’s just something incredibly charming about Josef and the world he lives in.

As mentioned above, Machinarium was my pick from several for the current #MaybeInMarch. It was a tough choice between this and Dragon’s Lair because they were both games I’d had some previous experience with despite not completing. I installed the latter last night before drafting this post and, if my short attempt is anything to go by, it’s still as difficult as I remember it being. Perhaps it will make an appearance in an upcoming stream so you can see how bad I am at quick-time events (QTEs).

So what’s in store for the next #MaybeInMarch? I’ll have another choice to make next year, but at least I already know it isn’t a platformer!

#MaybeInMarch 2021: the backlog love continues

February was all about showing your video game backlog some attention. #LoveYourBacklog Month encouraged everyone to share their love for their pile of video games – something which is a sign of just show much we love our hobby, rather than a source of guilt.

The backlog appreciation isn’t over just yet as we have more planned for the next few weeks. Ellen from Ace Asunder and I asked bloggers to nominate unplayed or unfinished titles in five categories last month, including the one that had spent the most time in their library. So how about now trying to complete it for #MaybeInMarch? It might seem a daunting prospect at first, but you’ll have a bunch of other bloggers doing the same and you can find out which game I’ll be attempting myself later in this post.

This event is open to everyone regardless of whether they participated in February’s #LoveYourBacklog event or not. It also doesn’t need to be focused on your Steam library, although that’s what I chose to do to make things simpler for myself. If you’d like to use this platform too and aren’t sure how to find out which game has been waiting in your library the longest: click on your name in the top-right hand corner of the window, go to Account details and then click on View licenses and product key activations.

#MaybeInMarch is more than just about ticking a title off your list, however. Like last month’s event, it’s a way of celebrating the awesome releases which make up your library and showing that a backlog of any size isn’t a reason for guilt. A pile of games is a sign of how much you love your hobby along with the variety we have available to us nowadays – and the bigger your mountain, the more likely it is you’ll have something you play whatever mood you’re in.

My nominated game for the first #MaybeInMarch in 2019 was LIMBO by Playdead, which I managed to complete and come up with some theories about the ending. This was followed by Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell in 2020 but I decided to give up after four hours because it wasn’t something I was enjoying. That’s the beauty of this event: it gives us a chance to try a title we might have forgotten about, perhaps a genre we wouldn’t normally play, and inspires plenty of discussion while we’re doing it.

When I checked my Steam account while writing my #LoveYourBacklog post, I realised that the game which had spent the longest on my backlog this time around wasn’t one but several. The following were purchased as a bundle in July 2013 and still haven’t been played: Dragon’s Lair, The Cave, Papa & Yo, Machinarium, Still Life, Still Life 2 and The Path. I’ve finally decided which one to nominate for this year – although I would have been happy with any of them because it’s not another platformer!

My #MaybeInMarch nomination for 2021 is Machinarium by Amanita Design. Playing some of it with friend-of-the-blog Phil while hanging out at his house one weekend inspired me to buy the title for myself eight years ago, but I think I got distracted by other titles and didn’t go on to install it. This point-and-click tells the story of a robot who has been exiled to the scrap-heap and must get back into the city to rescue his robot-girlfriend, save the head of the city and defeat the bad guys from the Black Cap Brotherhood.

I’m planning to stream Machinarium this month and then publish a post in a few weeks’ time to share my thoughts on the game. Ellen and I are looking forward to reading all about your #MaybeInMarch nominations too, and will be sharing everybody’s posts on Twitter.

#LoveYourBacklog Month 2021: dedicated to my backlog

February is all about #LoveYourBacklog Month, an event designed to encourage everyone to show their appreciation for their pile of games. After all: the more titles you have, the more likely it is you’ll always have something to play.

Ellen from Ace Asunder and I have three activities lined up for anybody who’d like to take part. First, grab yourself a shiny #LoveYourBacklog badge and display it on your blog throughout February with pride; then dedicate a post to your overflowing library as I’m doing below. To keep things simple, I’m choosing to focus on my Steam account only. Having now gone through all 363 of my games to highlight unplayed or unfinished titles in the following categories, it’s now time to show my backlog a bit of affection.

The effect that the 2020 apocalypse had on my backlog

The number of titles in my backlog feels as though it has remained stable over the past year, if not reduced slightly. I’ve managed to complete some old entries and new purchases have been started immediately, thanks to having more time to play due to not needing to commute while working from home during the lockdown. A lot of the upcoming titles on my wishlist and Kickstarter campaign rewards were delayed due to COVID-19 so there haven’t been as many releases to increase the size of my library.

The oldest game on my backlog in terms of release date

Steam doesn’t provide a nice way of sorting your games by date but I think the oldest one in my library right now is Dragon’s Lair. Originally released in 1983, I remember having this on my Amiga when I was kid but don’t recall ever completing it because its quick-time events (QTEs) were so bloody difficult. I couldn’t get the Steam version to run on my old PC when I tried to play it in July 2016 but perhaps it will now work on our new machine; it might make appearance during our upcoming streams for GameBlast21.

A game I bought on day one, only to not play it

I don’t tend to buy titles on the day of their release and on the rare occasion that I do, I’ll usually play them straight away. But I do have a bunch of unplayed games in my backlog that were received after backing successful Kickstarter campaigns. I won’t install them until they’ve made it out of early-access or every episode has been published so I can play the game in full; for example, Praey for the Gods hasn’t yet been touched despite getting the key in January 2019.

The game which has spent the most time on my backlog

It turns out this isn’t one title but several. Checking my Steam account has revealed that the following were purchased as part of a batch of games in July 2013 and still haven’t been played: Dragon’s Lair, The Cave, Papa & Yo, Machinarium, Still Life, Still Life 2 and The Path. As mentioned earlier in this post, the first one in that list hasn’t been played because I couldn’t get it to run previously; but there isn’t really a reason why I haven’t installed the others yet. Maybe I’ll have to do something about that next month.

The most recent addition to my library

My most recent purchase was The Sojourn, a puzzle-adventure set in a very pretty world that should be right up my street. A couple of hours in though and I started to get bored. There’s no obvious storyline; a world which begs to be explored doesn’t seem to hide any secrets at all; and the puzzles started to become a little repetitive. My other-half was rather taken with it though so it’s something we’ll probably finish at some point – but for now, it’s going back onto the backlog.

The person responsible for adding the most entries to my backlog

I met Darkshoxx back in October when he popped up in chat while we were streaming Shivers, and old point-and-click I’d played as a teenager back in the 1990s. Since then we’ve had a number of conversations about video games and I like his taste. Pete and I played Quern – Undying Thoughts for ourselves after watching part of it during one of his streams, and several more adventures have been added to both my library and wishlist thanks to him. Looking forward to more recommendations in the future!

That’s it from my Steam library for now – how about yours? To find out how you can join in with #LoveYourBacklog Month, take a look at this post and keep your eyes open for details about #MaybeInMarch coming soon.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


#LoveYourBacklog Month 2021

Backlog: a word which sends a shiver down most gamers’ spines. That sense of unease experienced when looking at our pile of unplayed titles is a feeling we’re all familiar with – yet we just can’t stop adding entries to our library of games.

Does it really need to be this way though? What if our libraries were something to be celebrated rather than a source of shame? A mountain of games surely isn’t a cause for guilt, but a sign of how much you enjoy your hobby and having something suitable available for every gaming mood. That’s why Ellen from Ace Asunder and I are kicking off the #LoveYourBacklog event once again today – and this year, we’re extending it to the entire month of February to give everyone more time to show their backlog a little bit of affection.

If you’re up for joining in and feeling proud about your pile of video games, read on to find out how you can get involved.

Backlogged and proud of it

Show your backlog pride by selecting one of the following badges and displaying it on your blog throughout the month. If you’re open to others viewing your games list and possibly connecting with you to chat about gaming recommendations, feel free to add a link to your library to the image so we can check out your collection.


Do what bloggers do best

Declare your love for the backlog by writing a post about your game collection and publishing it before the end of February. Nominate unplayed or unfinished titles from your library for the first five questions below then give a shout-out to someone who has great taste in video games for the last one.

  • The effect that the 2020 apocalypse had on your backlog
  • The oldest game in terms of release date
  • A game you bought on day one, only to not play it
  • The game which has spent the most time on your backlog
  • The most recent addition to your library
  • The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog, due to their good recommendations

  • Participate in #MaybeInMarch

    The backlog appreciation isn’t over at the end of February as there’s more to come next month. You know that game nominated for the ‘most time on your backlog’ category above – well, how about attempting to complete it during March and then telling the community about the experience? This isn’t about getting a title off your to-play list however, but more about celebrating all the awesome releases which are part of it. Keep your eyes peeled for more details coming soon.

    Thank you to everyone who’d like to get involved with 2021’s #LoveYourBacklog Month. Now get out there and be proud of your backlog, because we’re looking forward to hearing all about your game collections.

    We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
    Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
    (*Not guaranteed.)


    #MaybeinMarch 2020: Thomas Was Alone

    #LoveYourBacklog Week in February is an event designed to encourage everyone to share their love for their growing pile of video games. It’s something which should be a sign of just how much we love our hobby, rather than being viewed with a feeling of guilt.

    We now continue with #MaybeInMarch, where bloggers are asked to try and complete the unplayed or unfinished title which has spent the most time on their backlog. My own attempt took place this weekend as I tried to complete Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell live on Twitch. It’s a game I bought the same time as last year’s #MaybeinMarch nomination, LIMBO by Playdead, so it has been waiting for me to finish it since 25 March 2013 – almost exactly seven years.

    When I first tried it out back then, I think it was one of the first real indie games I’d ever played and it really impressed me. It was a surprise to find that a story more complex than ‘save the princess’ could be told through a minimalist platformer, and unique personalities could be given to characters who were just simple shapes on a screen. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the end though; this genre has never felt entirely for me so I think I put the title to one side in favour of a point-and-click.

    After our success with LIMBO in 2019 (although I still can’t tell you for sure what it’s about), I was keen to try Thomas Was Alone again to see if I could make it to the credits this year. The first thing that struck me was just how good the visuals still look after all this time. At first they seem incredibly plain, with platforms marked out in black against lighter backgrounds; but peer closer and you’ll see all sorts of details. Just look at the way drops of water bounce off surfaces in a spray of square pixels.

    The same level of quality is apparent in the soundtrack too. My stepson unexpectedly came to join us for the start of our stream and was passed the controller, by the end of his go was saying how ‘relaxing’ he thought the music was and how he thought he’d be able to listen to it all night. It’s chilled throughout the starting levels before Thomas as his friends know there’s anything wrong, but then creates a sense of urgency while still maintaining its minimalism the further you progress.

    It’s impossible to talk about the game’s sound without mentioning its narration, and this is the thing I remember most from playing it back in 2013. I’m not usually a Danny Wallace fan but even I must admit that he has done an incredible job here and it’s easy to see why he earned a BAFTA Games Performance Award for his work. He somehow manages to enhance each character’s personality without changing the sound of his voice, and it’s hard not to laugh at some of his lines.

    Saying that though, it’s also difficult not to become exasperated when hearing them while failing the same level repeatedly. This is what happened to us after reaching section 4.9. I don’t remember the controls feeling so sluggish when I first played Thomas Was Alone but now there’s a fraction of a section between pressing the A-button and the character actually jumping. A thread on the Steam Discussions reveals that other players have had similar issues and playing with the game’s settings may have given us some improvement.

    After spending 30 minutes on the same level – the controller having already been passed to my other-half in frustration by this point – we decided to call it a day. It had taken us four hours to get through a title which, according to HowLongToBeat.com, we should have been able to complete in less than that time. We watched the ending on YouTube after our stream instead and, for the sake of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that we weren’t disappointed about not making it there ourselves.

    As Cameron from Dragon In The Castle said in Twitch chat that night: “Some games are just meant to be backlogged.” Unfortunately, Thomas Was Alone is one of those for me and I don’t ever see myself going back to it. I’ve written before that there’s no point in spending our free time on releases we’re not enjoying when it’s so limited and therefore precious; and a title that receives high ratings from critics doesn’t mean that everyone should buy it, will love it or will see it through to the end.

    But that’s the beauty of #MaybeInMarch. It gives us a chance to try something that’s been waiting in our backlogs almost forgotten about, perhaps a genre we wouldn’t usually play. You might get lucky and find a new favourite. You might find something you don’t necessary enjoy but encourages plenty of discussion, as LIMBO did last year. Or you might find something like Thomas Was Alone, which makes you realise there are other titles much more suited to you as a player.

    One of the conversations that came up in Twitch chat was Pete’s backlog and what his #MaybeInMarch nomination would have been. Well, I’ve just checked his Steam library and can reveal that it’s LA Cops by Modern Dream, a game I gave to him back on 05 October 2014. Who knows, if we can convince him to give up Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 for long enough, you might find him playing it during a stream one day.

    As for me, it looks like I could end up playing one of several titles for 2021’s #MaybeInMarch event: The Cave, Papa & Yo, Still Life or The Path. At least it isn’t going to be another pure platformer.

    #MaybeinMarch 2020: backlog love

    Forget Valentine’s Day: February was about showing your video game backlog some attention. #LoveYourBacklog Week encouraged everyone to share their love for their pile of games – something which is a sign of just how much we love our hobby, rather than a source of guilt.

    The backlog appreciation isn’t over just yet though as there’s more planned for the next few weeks. Last month bloggers were asked to nominate unplayed or unfinished titles in five categories, including the one that had spent the most time in their library; so how about now attempting to complete it for #MaybeinMarch? It might seem like a daunting prospect at first but you’ll have a bunch of other bloggers doing the same, and you can find out which game I’ll be attempting myself further below.

    Video games, cases, boxes, pile, backlog

    This event is open to everyone regardless of whether you participated in February’s #LoveYourBacklog Week. It also doesn’t need to be focused on your Steam library, although that’s what I’ve chosen to do to keep things simple. If you’d like to use the same platform and aren’t sure how to find out which game has been waiting in your library the longest: click on your name in the top right-hand corner of the window, go to Account details and then click on View licenses and product key activations.

    #MaybeinMarch is more than just about ticking a title off your list however. Similar to last month’s event, it’s a way of celebrating the awesome releases which make up your library and showing that a backlog isn’t a reason for guilt. A pile of games is a sign of how much you love your hobby along with the variety we have available to us nowadays – and the bigger your mountain, the more likely it is you’ll have something to play whatever mood you’re in.

    The title I’ll be attempting this month is Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell. It’s one I bought at the same time as last year’s #MaybeinMarch game, Limbo by Playdead, so it’s been waiting for me to finish it since 25 March 2013. I did play it back then and got perhaps halfway through; but I’m not a big platformer fan and it was eventually put to one side in favour of something else. Perhaps now, seven years later, I’ll finally make it through to the end and find out what happens to Thomas and his friends.

    There’ll be a post in a couple of weeks’ time sharing my thoughts, and I’m looking forward to reading all about your #MaybeinMarch games too! Keep your eye on Twitter for everybody’s posts.