Retro Machina, the tried and tested demo

Retro Machina, the tried and tested demo
The recent Steam Game Festival has given us the opportunity to experience a lot of indies coming in 2021, including some long-awaited titles like this interesting hybrid between puzzle game and action RPG from Brazilian team Orbit Studio. The gameplay of the title has already been shown at GamesCom and the Tokyo Game Show, but one thing is to see a movie and another is to play a game, which we did for our trial of Retro Machina, coming out at March on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S.

A world of robots

Like the other timed demos of the Steam Game Festival, also that of Retro Machina, still available, gave us the opportunity to experience the first moments of the game starting from the introductory sequence. A short presentation, or so we would have called it once upon a time, which, like the game, relies on very simple static drawings and animations, but shines for the quality of the illustrations all made by hand and for a decidedly inspired retro-futuristic imagery.

The curtain opens on an assembly line in the city of Endeavor, the last bastion still in operation of a civilization abandoned by humans for hundreds of years and kept alive only by the incessant work of robots. Everything, among other things, still seems to work well but it is only appearance, kept standing by the blind routine of automatons that do not bother to meet an inexorable end. This at least until a malfunction grants awareness to one of the robots, thus transforming him into the protagonist of a title that combines isometric action RPG and puzzle game.

Double gameplay

Catapulted into a world where nature has regained dominance, the little automaton we are wearing has the task of saving the world, or what remains of it, addressing the security measures of deteriorated but still functioning technological outposts. Upon our arrival we are in fact greeted by hostile robots that we attacked with the basic attack, the only one available in the early stages of the game, dodging the blows with a useful somersault, predictably essential in the case of bosses who rely on the classic offensive patterns. . However, not all enemies must be defeated. In fact, some become tools to overcome otherwise insurmountable obstacles, thanks to the special ability of our mechanical hero who is able to control an opponent's machine or automaton.

The first enemy that got under way in the demo was a small spider which, once controlled, allowed us to access otherwise unreachable areas and to activate pressure mechanisms that open a way for the protagonist by activating platforms or by removing obstacles. The second robot we encountered instead was a disk armed with a chainsaw that, capable of floating, gave us the opportunity to pass over electrified land and then detonate near the generators making the area safe. But we were forced to dodge laser turrets, fight and find the right timing, to proceed and meet the first boss, a kind of flying saucer mounted on wheels and armed with tentacles.

Once the attack pattern was identified, the clash was resolved too quickly, but it is good to keep in mind that this is a tutorial in this case also designed to show us how to use a controlled enemy in combat. A taste, therefore, of a gameplay that in the full game is destined to evolve thanks to new attacks, special abilities, area shots and character upgrades, all seasoned with rooms full of enemies to dodge. We do not expect, it must be said, that the pace will become too excited, given the movement of the character and the importance of the ability to control even in the clashes, but what we have seen is only a starter of a title that does not lack potential, above all from the point of view of the puzzles.

An entirely artisanal technical sector

The challenges proposed in the demo did not engage us that much, although increasing rapidly in terms of complexity, but on the final we came across a puzzle a little more complex and characterized by one more element than the previous ones. To the need to dodge lasers using the character and an enemy robot together, we have in fact added the possibility of recovering an upgrade that put us in front of the choice whether to risk the head or give up so as not to complicate things too much. In this case, saving goat and cabbage was quite simple, but this detail, included in a tutorial, gives us hope for a substantial challenge, essential to make sense of a title of this genre. We do not know instead whether to trust in an Italian adaptation that does not fall within the nine languages ​​listed on the Steam page. However, it must be said that the texts are rare and there is no trace of spoken word in a title that should not give big usability problems to anyone with a smattering of English.

We know instead from the technical sector that it is modest , especially in the case of some effects and cutscenes, but it works and shines the spotlight on a suggestive hand-drawn world full of aircraft debris, ruined bridges, destroyed trains, jungle glimpses, huge automatons and billboards between the futuristic and vintage, in the style of titles like Fallout or Bioshock. Enough to give delicious glimpses already starting from the demo, although the gameplay trailer has already made it clear that we expect better. In fact, the video shows gigantic bosses, abandoned metropolises and evocative landscapes scattered throughout four different biomes that we will have to cross in search of answers, allies and, perhaps, salvation.

Retro Machina is an action RPG with puzzle elements rendered fascinating by atmosphere, drawings and puzzles. For now, the fight has certainly not made us cry out for a miracle and although bewitched by the illustrations we would have appreciated more complex animations and maybe a pinch of more depth, but with the right balance and an adequate degree of challenge the donut will be there.


Retro-futuristic inspired imagery and beautiful illustrations Evocative soundtrack Intriguing puzzle component DOUBT Some graphic effects clash with the quality of the backgrounds The quality of the puzzles will be a key element

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