(wme) Mental Repairs Inc – Another ghost in the machine? – WME


Machines that think?  Well that’s what our next game is based on.  It’s called “Mental Repairs, Inc.” by Renzo ThönenMental Repairs, Inc is another adventure game, but made with the Wintermute engine this time.  Mental Repairs, Inc is about someone named Henrik Liaw, a ‘machine psychiatrist’.  What?  A shrink for machines?  You’ve got to be kidding me right?  No, actually, this seems very logical.  In this game in the future all machines have computers (pretty much like today), and the AI is so advanced they now represent human mental processes, in other words virtual minds.  What do we do when humans need debugging, we go see a shrink.  So it’s only natural that machines with advanced AI, need to see psychiatrists to help fix them from the inside.

So here’s our hero Henrik Liaw, and his tool that looks like a wrench, but is really a sophisticated interface, to connect his mind with the virtual psyche of the machines that need fixing.  Henrik’s PDA receives an emergency call in the middle of the night. The Rhosonit Engineering’s (who apparently designs vehicles)  main computer, experiences a nervous breakdown and needs to be repaired immediately.  Upon entering the Rhosonit building, the doors close behind Henrik, trapping him until he can fix the problem.  So he sets out to work repairing each machine in the building from the inside.  The story has an interesting message about the nature of the mind, and how by fixing these machines, we may fix ourselves.  I won’t give away more than that.  The puzzles are pretty good, somewhat challenging, but not frustrating.  You never seem to get to a dead end, which is really good.  I did have two puzzles I had to look in a walk-through to figure out.  When you come across the “coal” puzzle, and the coffee-machine puzzle, you sort of have to think outside the box.  Hopefully there’s not too many spoilers here.MRI_SS02

The interface is pretty slick.  The main menu doesn’t have a lot of options.  Start new game, save, load, quit, instructions, etc.  In the game you primarily interact with objects by left clicking on them and holding down the left-mouse button.  This brings up a “verb coin” as-it-were.  This is actually a pie, or, radial menu, except that it’s diamond shaped, but in essence it’s still a radial menu.  Right-clicking something examines it.  The inventory is on the bottom of the screen.  It works similarly, simply left click to pick up and hold to do something useful either on the item, or if you’ve picked up an item, holding down the button let’s you make the currently held item interact with another in the inventory, or anything clickable on the screen.  I have to admit the interface is pretty streamlined, as it seems the author took the best of the different interface techniques and combined them into this.  On the lower left corner of the screen, under the inventory bar are three small buttons.  One goes to the main menu, the next shows the games instructions, and finally is a little magnifying lens icon.  This reveals all the hotspots on the screen for a brief moment.  You can also double click on  a destination to go there instantly.  MRI_SS03

There are, however, some interface issues.  For one thing to put away an item you need to right-click.  I would think that you should simply be able to move over to the empty inventory spot and left click to put it away.  Another is in order to bypass a line of dialogue, you have to right click.  I would have preferred if that was also a left-click.  Those couple of things would have made it perfect.  Sometimes the left-hold verb coin pops up when you didn’t want it to.  Also at times you can do unexpected things, and a script error occurs.  This, however, doesn’t stop the game from being playable.  MRI_SS04

The graphics are pretty good.  This is what is known as a “2.5D” game.  Essentially that means that the characters are 3d models that move in 3d space, and the backgrounds are usually pre-generated cg models, but the whole game is played in 2 Dimensions.  The only flaws in the graphics really, are the animations.  They seem a little too stiff, and of course they don’t seem to really engage the items in the background or the other characters.  This isn’t really a big flaw though.  The animation of having to go into the machine’s psyche was wearing on me after while, but after you enter the machine once, it doesn’t replay the animation, which is good.  The visuals are pleasant to look at.  MRI_SS05

The sounds are actually pretty good, they seem to make the game feel more realistic.  I had wished there was voice acting though instead of straight text.  I’m sure this probably wouldn’t have been feasible for the developer though, since he probably would have had to done both German and English versions, and seeing as this is an amateur adventure, he probably wouldn’t have been able to get decent voice talent (although there is decent amateur voice talent out there).  There’s only sparse bits of music, and these are ok, but nothing to write home about.

Overall this is a really enjoyable game.  Other standing issues aside, the only real flaw in this game is that it’s too short!  Also I would have liked to talk to the machines again even after fixing them.  But that’s neither here nor there.  Best of all, it’s free.  So if you like adventure games with a good story and good visuals, this will satisfy you.MRI_SS06

Name: Mental Repairs, Inc.

Developer:  Renzo Thönen

Price: Free

Final analysis: A professional looking, slick playing, adventure game with a good story.

Where you can get it:  Renzo Thönen’s Mental Repairs, Inc, homepage.

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