There's a certain amount of joy to be had in figuring out how things work, and this is the core concept behind Machineers.
The game, like the character you play in it, masterfully combines recognisable elements to deliver something that is functionally sound, albeit rarely remarkable.
Bringing the 2005 movie Robots to mind, with an aesthetic that clearly tips its hat to the more grimy aspects of the similarly-named Machinarium, Machineers sees you become the newest employee at a workshop located behind a fairground, in a world populated entirely by robots.
Simple controls see you navigate a handful of functionally basic but detailed 2D areas in a point n' click fashion. Tapping the floor moves you around, whilst prodding other equally-robotic characters sees you asking whether they have something for you to repair.
Your aim is to become the greatest 'machineer' there is - a fixer of broken mechanical things.
In a fix
It's in the fixing of things that the real meat of the game begins. Switching to show the inner-workings of the machine in question, your task is to place pre-determined components in their correct position.
Starting incredibly simply, the challenge ramps up as you fix increasingly complicated devices, including a mechanical pet owl, a DJ's control panel, and a Space Invaders-esque arcade game.
With the assorted gears, belts, switches, and cables accordingly arranged, a press of the power button shows if things are operational once more, offering some genuine satisfaction as your own cogs turn while you make the ones before you do the same.
For fix sake
One of the nice touches in the game is that you can basically choose your own difficulty level during these puzzles. For all but the last challenge, hints are immediately available - view all of these and the blueprints for the machine are also offered, showing the puzzle's solution.
Thoughtfully, there's no penalty in asking for such help, nor in taking your time, though players who rush through the puzzles on offer will quickly arrive at Machineers's most significant shortcoming: this first episode is pretty dang short.
The lack of content is understandable in a game with episodic ambitions, but compared to iPad games available at the same price point of £2.99 / $4.99, Machineers would benefit hugely from additional gameplay modes or puzzle variants to complement the generally strong (though totally linear) set of thirteen brainteasers it offers.
While it lasts though, Machineers is thoroughly enjoyable. Charismatic animation pleasingly blends the upbeat personalities of the cast with the melancholy visuals of the dingy setting, complemented excellently with superb audio design, utilising great use of positional audio for those wearing headphones.
The game's music is also deserving of particular praise which, during the puzzle sequences, is calm, encouraging and continuous, its loops discretely blending while you figure out the mechanical conundrum before you.
The real pity is that, after an enjoyable couple of hours, there really is nothing left for players to achieve or improve on. Hopefully future episodes can pack in more content and features to remedy this.