DaVinci’s Secret Machines plays on the idea that Leonardo DaVinci was a master inventor by allowing you the pleasure of using simple items like wooden planks, conveyor belts, and balls to accomplish goals like moving a ball into a basket or lighting a candle.
The game functions something like a digital erector set. You are given a set number of items at the onset of a level, along with a stated goal, then you’re left to your own devices. You can finish the task however you like, just as long as you accomplish your goal in the required time limit. Luckily, the time limit doesn’t begin until you activate your creation, meaning you have all day to figure out what you want to do, so long as your machine doesn’t take very long to accomplish its goal.
Visually, Secret Machines aspires to DaVinci’s time period, which makes the whole affair a drab exercise in browns and sepia yellows. The mood lighting doesn’t really add anything to the game, but I suppose if you want to feel like you’re really in the time of DaVinci, it doesn’t hurt, either.
Secret Machines is brought down mostly by easy puzzles and a tendency to crash. Before each puzzle, you’re given your directive, and within the directive is often a clue that gives the whole puzzle away. While it might seem cruel to give users a few conveyor belts and let them figure out the rest, telling a player specifically “you’ll need to watch out for the gravity of the conveyor belts” almost feels like playing with a strategy guide in hand.
As for the crashing, that seems to happen randomly and frequently. It’s not such a bother if it happens after you just finished a level, but if you are painstakingly laying out your machine and you crash while doing so, it can be very irritating.
DaVinci’s Secret Machines is by no means a killer app, but if you’re looking for a bit of a time waster and enjoy solving puzzles, it might be worth a look.