MechaNika is a short, yet memorable puzzle adventure game.
Your guide into its bizarre world, and characters, is none other than Nika Allen herself, a 7-year-old girl. Nika thinks that school is a total waste of time, her teacher is useless, and her peers – a bunch of immature morons. Nika’s parents scold her for no apparent reason, and her older brother is a good-for-nothing schmo. One day, she becomes fed up with everything, decides to destroy the world and repurpose it according to her own preference. You see, Nika is into engineering, and to realize her devious plan, she will build a MechaNika.
To do that, Nika will need to collect materials – a total of twelve parts. For most, these are everyday objects, like pieces of glass or a blowtorch. For Nika, however, they are crucial components for building a tool of mass destruction. All of the items can be found in Nika’s hometown and, either require you to solve a puzzle, or simply barter. Speaking of environments, MechaNika features beautiful hand-drawn visuals and is filled with references to other popular entertainment media. Including, but not limited to, Forza, Mass Effect, Star Wars, as well as one of my favourite anime – Ergo Proxy.
Locations are explored simply by walking around and examining them in a point-and-click manner. A cursor is used to explore potential points of interest and if an interaction is possible, the cursor becomes outlined in black. Conveniently, this means there is no need to click on everything in search of an elusive interaction. Moreover, Nika can fire up a conversation with almost anyone, which often leads to acquiring the desired item. Sometimes, the other party might possess an important item, which they are willing to exchange for one that Nika already has. Dialogues are oozing with humour and obscene language; some even cover more serious real-life themes. If you happen to enjoy, say, Family Guy or South Park, you’ll probably enjoy the conversations in MechaNika as well.
MechaNika’s diverse cast of eccentric characters is easily among its main highlights. Take her grandfather for example, who keeps a stack of adult magazines in a safe, and has had a questionable sexual intercourse with a… actually, nevermind, you’ll find out for yourself. Or maybe a homeless man, who has a collection of unusual items, and whose thick beard is inhabited by a cat. Nika might even encounter the game’s developers and discuss their current and upcoming projects. Almost every dialogue and interaction in MechaNika is entertaining, worthwhile, and often comical.
One such comical interaction involves Nika’s brother Dennis, who spends most of his time playing video games. She decides to play a trick on him by sending a false email that his copy of Duty Call has arrived and can now be collected from the store. I really enjoyed Nika’s deviously satisfied facial expressions during similar interactions.
Puzzles themselves are seldom difficult, and some even have multiple solutions. As an example, Nika might require a transmitter from a microwave, but she can’t take it while her mother is in the kitchen. How do you get her out? Simple, you take advantage of the inferior being’s addiction to horrendous, brain-deteriorating TV shows, by turning on the television in the living room. Done, the mother is in a state of permanent hypnosis and the transmitter is yours. Solutions rarely venture beyond the obvious; if you think something can be done, it probably can be.
Collected items are stored in the backpack. From there, Nika can examine, use, or assign them to the MechaNika project plan (if compatible). There’s also a USB stick which allows Nika to save her progress. Although, the game state is also automatically saved upon entering a new location. Should you ever feel stuck on any single puzzle, Nika’s got your back. Nika carries a hip flask in her backpack, with her favourite inspirational drink – a concoction of cocoa and cognac. A beloved brew among 7-year-olds, no doubt. Anyway, one swig and, after the haze passes, Nika determines whether or not any interactions are available in the current locale. Once all parts are collected, they can be brought back home to initiate the construction of MechaNika.
I was somewhat disappointed with the game’s ending, but only slightly. Perhaps, I was expecting a little more for my efforts. Nonetheless, it’s a minor gripe, which didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of MechaNika.
I’m glad the puzzles were not too difficult and I could simply enjoy the story, the characters, and the copious profanity. Nika herself is a highly likeable persona and I truly wanted her to succeed at her mischievous plan. MechaNika is only a couple of hours long, but at the low price point of £4.99, it is very much worth it. Even if you normally don’t enjoy puzzle games, you might as well enjoy this one. Get it!