How pleasing that a game about time travel should have such a perfect sense of timing. Kelvin and the Infamous Machine is a point and click adventure in which an inept research assistant must skip through time, inspiring great inventors and artists to fulfil their historical roles. It arrives on Kickstarter shortly after we cast our eyes over Thimbleweed Park, the Lucasarts throwback from the minds of Maniac Mansion creators Ron Gilbert and Garry Winnick. Time travel? Pointing and clicking? Where are the tentacles? Seek them in the demo and trailer below.
There are no tentacles, at least not in the demo. While Day of the Tentacles is clearly an inspiration – it says so right there on the Kickstarter page in the chapter headed ‘Inspiration’ – The Infamous Machine doesn’t seem to have multiple simultaneous time periods, and puzzles that span them. Instead, it looks like there will be three self-contained chapters, each involving a historical figure in need of inspiration. In non-chronological order, they are Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven and Leonardo da Vinci.
The demo contains a short visit to Beethoven’s time and involves an opera, a dapper disguise and…an alley full of carnival games? I guess Whack-A-Mole is an essential part of the ol’ Lucasarts charm as well.
‘Charm’ is a good word to use in relation to The Infamous Machine. The demo didn’t make me laugh but it made me smile and almost raised a faint chuckle. There are gags but most of the humour is in the sense of absurdity that the characters all seem to share, and the wit is as warm and dry as a freshly spun cardigan.
While Thimbleweed looks (intentionally) like a lost adventure from decades past, The Infamous Machine looks like a Lucasarts adventure might if it were made in 2014. The Kickstarter target is $20,000 (about £13 grand), with just over $7,500 raised in its first week. Stretch goals include full voice acting and extra chapters, featuring Einstein, Darwin and more.
[Our Low-Fi Let’s Player Leigh Alexander consulted on this game.]