Review | Kelvin and the Infamous Machine

Anyone who knows me well, or at all, or has read my bio at the bottom of this page, knows that I love a good point-and-click adventure game. There was a time when these were thin on the ground, but there seems to have been a recent resurgence in the genre, and that’s definitely OK by me. I am, however, relatively picky with my point-and-clicks, having played so many it’s relatively difficult to impress me, but Kelvin and the Infamous Machine did just that.

Kelvin - time machine
it does the job at least…

You play as Kelvin, one of two assistants to the fame-hungry Dr. Edwin Lupin. Lupin has finally mastered time-travel, however, due to his time machine looking suspiciously like a shower, he is not really given the recognition he feels is due and has promptly gone rogue throughout history, thwarting the progress of some of our most beloved historical figures to claim their successes as his own. Kelvin must follow behind him fixing the changes that have been made in order to restore the Temporal Lattice Stability and save the world. So, dressed in shirt, puffer vest and high-tops, and technologically aided by Lupin’s other, much more intelligent assistant Lise, Kelvin must go BACK TO THE FUTURE… wait, I mean BACK IN TI-IME. OK, I’m done.

First off, this game is funny. I mean really funny. It’s not often a game has me laughing out loud but this one did on several occasions. The combination of puns, self-referential humour and a bemused protagonist who is managing to muddle through was just right to produce a genuinely endearing and amusing narrative. There are also plenty of pop-culture references thrown in for good measure, with the blatantly obvious Marty McFly comparison being completed by the addition of a hover board at one point.

Kelvin - McFly
And the transformation is complete

Secondly, the artwork is great. The game looks like you remember the point-and-clicks of your youth looking, even though when you go back and play them now you realise your memories are way off. The environments are smooth and well thought out, and the characters are involving and full of expression which is helped by some brilliant voice acting, which breathe life into gags which may not have landed if only via subtitles. The use of Kelvin’s rucksack as an inventory background is nicely integrated with the feel of the game.

Kelvin - temporal lattice
Don’t worry, that’s a good thing!

The story is entertaining and involving, using well-known historical reference points (Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and the painting of the Mona Lisa, for example) to build the narrative around. The game is split into 3 main chapters and an ending section which are unlocked as you play through the game, and are then accessible to replay separately in order to go back and achievement hunt at your leisure. The achievements are either story-based or are used to showcase nice hidden elements in the game which meant that it was a fun experience going back for them, and not an exercise in persistence, as is so often the case.

It took me around 3 hours to play start to finish, but it didn’t feel like a short game at all, and obviously this would be influenced by how fast you manage to solve each puzzle, as is the nature of point-and-click adventure games. In this vein, the puzzles are not too obtuse but are involved enough to get you wandering around and trying to think two steps ahead, each item you can collect has a purpose in that chapter which guides your gameplay and means that you’re not left with a load of unused items in your inventory at the end of a chapter, which makes me oddly happy.

Kelvin - inventory
What’s in the bag?

The lack of a verb system is an interesting move for this type of game, meaning that when you click on something you don’t know what the outcome will be, it might take the form of the traditional ‘look at’ or it might be ‘use’.  It would have been nice to have some verbs interact with things before just doing what the game intended to get a bit more context on puzzles. There is, however, a magnifying glass in the inventory which allows you to examine items you have picked up which was useful.

Kelvin and the Infamous machine started life as a Kickstarter beating their $20,000 goal by almost an extra $10,000 and using that funding Blyts have managed to create an enjoyable, polished and amusing experience.

The game was officially released in July 2016 and you can buy it on Steam, from the official website, or from the various app stores.

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