Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Here I am, brain the size of a planet [Review: Mental Repairs Inc.]

This is the website description of Renzo "Eshaktaar" Thönen's game: "Mental Repairs, Inc. is a 2.5D point'n'click adventure that puts you into the shoes of Henrik Liaw, machine psychiatrist. Henrik's unusual..." by this time I had stopped reading and hit the download button.

Mental Repairs, Inc. is an indie game built on the Wintermute Engine. Liaw, who doesn't look nearly old enough to be a medical student let alone a psychiatrist, is called out to a company HQ where the mainframe computer has malfunctioned. However before he can even reach the mainframe he has to deal with a number of disturbed appliances including (genius) a lift with multiple personalities, one of whom only wants to go up. Another nice touch is Liaw's PDA device which acts as a hint system and plays an integral part in the plot - but also has it's own character and a tendency to make jokes about Eliza or Turing Tests. The whole scenario is a little reminiscent of Douglas Adams' work, which is populated by manically happy sliding doors and eccentric robots including of course Marvin - who would seriously benefit from a few sessions with Henrik Liaw.
As this screenshot shows, although there are a small number of locations they are detailed, stylish and atmospheric.

The best compliment I can give this game is that it is much too short. I completed it in a few hours of gameplay over three days, and was left wanting much, much more. The gameplay around healing neurotic machines and computers works well, particularly in the first act (the second act tries to do something a little more metaphysical), the interaction with each appliance is different and well thought-out. The puzzles are both logical and consistent with the story, and the idea strikes a real chord - I've yet to see an office computer system, for example, that isn't at least a bit neurotic. So it would have been good to see this game extended, with more appliances to heal.


Anonymous said...

AWESOME game! Really. One of the best, funnest, cleverest games I have played in a long time.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Anonymous great to hear from you again. I loved Mental Repairs - you might also want to try googling Out Of Order if you haven't already played it, I'll post a review at some point.