Picked up by Daedalic, the Crazy Machines franchise returns with Crazy Machines 3 – the first proper sequel in years.
We were excited to hear about Crazy Machines 3 earlier this year, because it had been about 8 years since Crazy Machines 2 came out. The franchise hasn’t been dormant, with tons of expansions and spin-offs released during those years, but the prospect of a real sequel immediately grabbed our attention. This is most likely due to another series that goes back even further than Crazy Machines – The Incredible Machine, released almost 25 years ago now.
The Incredible Machine’s sequel, “The Even More Incredible Machine”, was probably one of the first games I ever played on Windows – a few years before Windows 95, in a time when booting up Windows (from DOS) seemed like a cumbersome way to play games. It’s a great credit to those games that, in 2016, Crazy Machines 3 doesn’t stray far from their formula. Like The Incredible Machine, Crazy Machines 3 gives you a relatively easy objective and forces you to find complex ways of solving them by building contraptions from a set of tools offered to you – think pulleys, gears, etc. Those familiar with the genre probably know them as Rube Goldberg puzzles/creations.
In Crazy Machines, you have a campaign available to you as well as a sandbox mode in which you can play around, create your own crazy contraptions and let your imagination run wild – to a degree. In both the campaign mode and the sandbox, the experience isn’t as free and creative as in The Incredible Machine (and the recent spiritual successor Contraption Maker), and my guess is that that’s on account of the beautifully rendered 3D graphics used in Crazy Machines 3.
While other games take place on a simple 2D grid and allow you to position pieces with freedom and precision, Crazy Machines 3’s three dimensional playing field must have forced the developers to limit your freedom in terms of unit placement and movement/rotation. It’s an understandable move in order to limit possibly frustrations, but it does result in a lack of freedom that might frustrate those who are used to playing similar games. Crazy Machines 3 does quite a bit more handholding, and this is especially clear in the campaign. Tutorials are easy to understand and introduce you to new concepts and tools, but in subsequent levels your solutions are usually fairly straightforward as well – at least in terms of your general direction.
This is a direct result of a limited amount of freedom, and it can be seen as a blessing and a curse. Games like The Incredible Machine can quickly become overwhelming to all but die-hard fans of the genre, and Crazy Machines offers a more accessible alternative. Combined with the stunning visuals, a sense of achievement and a visually pleasing reward are never far away. That might not be enough for genre purists, but will definitely appease more casual fans of the contraption builder genre.