If you’ve ever wanted to masticate in a video game before, you’ve come to the right place. Homo Machina is a brief, but unique puzzle game with an undeniable charm to it. The game takes place inside a human body, where a tiny workforce of people ensures that the various contraptions and machines that keep the body functioning do exactly that. As the human wakes up, eats his breakfast, and goes about his day, you and the workers must operate the body’s machines to keep it all running smoothly.
The most striking thing about Homo Machina is its art style. Bot the art and overall theme of the game are meant to pay homage to the works of Fritz Kahn, a German physician who drew illustrations of the human body using analogies of machines and mechanisms. The influence is so transparent that the game even includes a small bio of Fritz Kahn in its menus. Homo Machina imitates Kahn’s style of informative graphics perfectly, giving the game a unique aesthetic reminiscent of 1920s Surrealism artwork, accompanied by a soothing soundtrack that would sound at home on a phonograph.
It’s a charming visual style that is enjoyable to look at while tapping your way through the game’s 14 levels. Each level revolves around a puzzle set around a different challenge facing the human body. Your job is to manipulate the machinery that comprises that body to make everything function as it should. When the body eats, for example, you must activate the mouth’s incisors, canines, and molars—represented by knives, scissors, and gears—to properly chew up the food. The masticated food then passes on to the tongue, where you must use the salivation glands—portrayed as hoses—to literally wash the flavor down to the tongue’s flavor receptors. There are clever little mechanical analogies all throughout Homo Machina. It makes the human body seem like a factory in constant need of maintenance.
Simply seeing the various contraptions of human anatomy is entertaining, which is a good thing because the puzzles themselves will likely do little to stimulate players. Though there are a few exceptions, most of the puzzles in Homo Machina simply involve tapping on the next mechanism that needs tapping.
Some puzzles do require quick timing, but the game is forgiving. Puzzles usually allow you to carry the progress from failed attempts into your next attempt, meaning you won’t be stuck on these pseudo-quick-time-events for very long. In fact, there is very little in Homo Machina that will actually challenge players, with the biggest roadblocks coming from levels where it’s unclear whether you’re tapping the wrong mechanism or the touch screen just isn’t responsive enough. Because of this, the game can sometimes feel more like an aesthetically-pleasing tour of the human body than an actual puzzle game.
It’s a pretty good tour though. Clever writing and some genuinely humorous moments kept me entertained even when some sagging puzzles couldn’t, and the Kahn-inspired rendition of the human body never stops being cool to look at. And like all good tours, Homo Machina ends well before it overstays its welcome. The game is completable in a little less than an hour. This makes for a low-risk, low-commitment experience that ends at the right time to leave you wanting just a little a bit more. So although Homo Machina’s puzzles may not challenge you, it’s charming visual style and clever writing will keep you entertained throughout this short experience.
TechRaptor covered Homo Machina on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer/publisher. It is also available on iOS and Android.