Kelvin and the Infamous Machine Review: Adventure Time

Travelling through time to 2016 when it was released, here's a Kelvin and the Infamous Machine review, a point and click on Steam from the creators of Slender Threads.

At the tail end of The Big Adventure Week, I opted for a few point and click adventures I hadn’t had time to play. The first one I finished was Kelvin and the Infamous Machine. It’s not a new title, so I won’t be broadcasting this all over the place, but it’s a game well worth picking up if you’re an adventure fan.

Besides my bias towards it being a point and click, it’s a game developed by Blyts of Slender Threads erm.. fame. It’s an age since I played the demo, but it’s firmly burned into my retinas and a game at the top of my wishlist. In the meantime, why not check out their earlier work?

Here’s the skinny. Dr Lupin creates a time machine but is ridiculed by his peers, brandishing the invention ‘the infamous machine’. Driven to madness, he hops into the device and shifts through time, ballsing it up (hat’s the scientific term) and hellbent on changing history in his image.

Kelvin and the Infamous Machine Review - Star Trek
Isn’t that that thing from Star Trek? Source: Screen capture

Enter Kelvin. It’s clear he’s not on the same intellectual level as Lupin, but, as indicated in the intro: he knows right from wrong. Hardly a superpower, but his heart’s in the right place. That means he’s the hero, right? Yep. Kelvin follows Dr Lupin back through time in a handful of eras, the first being Austria 1804 and some chap called Beethoven. 

Kelvin and the Infamous Machine has a focus on comedy, and within the first 20 minutes will be the decider if it’s for you. My gut instinct was I don’t like the voice actor. There was a barrage of one-liners and never a quiet moment without inserting a wisecrack or two. 

Reserved into thinking I was going to hate it, about… 20 minutes in, I realised that I liked Kelvin after all. Stephen Barlow (Kelvin) reminded me a little of Ben Schwarz in Sonic the Hedgehog. I wasn’t keen on the latter either at first, but it soon became clear that they were the star. Well, kicking Jim Carey off his pedestal for a second.

Anyhoo, Kelvin and the Infamous Machine is quite a short game but follows the rulebooks on quality, not quantity. For each chapter, you have to undo the mischief that Lupin has caused, and while Kelvin’s best intentions are to return everything to normal, he alters history in some subtle yet amusing ways.

Kelvin and the Infamous Machine Review - Ed-20-Lightyear
Ed-20-Lightyear. Source: Screen capture

Because the areas in the game are pretty contained, it’s a bit more noticeable with the amount of backtracking you have to do. Granted, there’s no need for fast travel between a handful of scenes, but there’s a fair amount of going back and forth to either solve a puzzle in sequence or perhaps that pixel hunting point and clicks are famous for.

The artwork is a treat. On first impressions, Kelvin and the Infamous Machine doesn’t stand out as much as the upcoming Slender Threads. Still, under a microscope (i.e. playing the game), you start to notice some lovely nuances like dust particles in the light. But perhaps the real standout is the character animation, notably the faces they pull. Blyts know how to develop characters.

There’s no accurate measurement of difficulty with a game as it’s all subjective. I wouldn’t say this is easy or hard, but it did have some illogical puzzles that I guessed at. As much as I love the genre, I do have a habit of going through all the inventory, using all manner of combinations. I blame Police Quest for that. Regardless, the puzzles are good and almost always funny.

The humour in the game is non-stop but never seems to try too hard, or overdo it. That said, the first 20 minutes were the adjustment phase of knowing what to expect. By the way, if you’re expecting something historically accurate, focus your energy elsewhere. Considering one chapter features Robin Hood, Isaac Newton and a lumberjack all occupying the same day, you know that we have another play on history in the mould of Day of the Tentacle. And that game wasn’t all that bad, if you remember…

Despite the length (I think I finished it in one sitting), there are achievements to go through, but just admiring the comedy and artwork make this worthwhile. Kelvin and the Infamous Machine wasn’t in a sale, nor is it at the time of writing, but it’s well worth the price, in my opinion. If you haven’t tried it, give it a look-see, or ask someone more reputable. I like.