Human Resource Machine for Nintendo Switch

Human Resource Machine is an indie puzzle game from the developers of Little Inferno and World of Goo. It was originally released for Windows/OSX in 2015 and has been ported to mobile, Linux and WiiU.

This is one of the Switch games that can only be played on the touchscreen, which I didn't realise when I bought it. It's not a dealbreaker, but I paid AUD$13 for it when I could have bought it for my tablet for AUD$7. So it would have been cheaper, played identically and been on a bigger screen. I'm not too upset about this, as I'm happy to show developers that the Switch is a console that's making sales, but it does feel like I got a raw deal (though $13 isn't too expensive for the game!).

For the puzzles, you're given an inbox, an outbox, a set of commands that you can queue and some spaces on the floor where you can dump tiles. I'm a little over halfway through the game at this point and I'm not finding it particularly challenging, but I'm also a programmer and this is essentially a programming game. The difficulty ramps up pretty quickly and I imagine that it could be fairly difficult for someone without a programming background, especially as there is no hint system in the game. I did notice at one point that the game encouraged me to search online for some things. While that's definitely true to the experience of programming, I'm not sure that it should be the case for a game. This is also the kind of game where you could complete the game in 10 minutes or so by copying solutions from others - theres a fine line between telling someone to search for help and having the answer 'spoiled' for them.

The programming in the game is very low level. There isn't, for example, a multiplier command and the only 'if' comparisons you're given are 0 and negative comparison. This means that to multiply, you put both tiles on the floor, subtract from one of the tiles and add the other to your result for each subtraction that you're doing. This means that for code that multiplies two numbers, you end up with 15+ commands.

In all I'm enjoying the game, but just over half-way in, I have a bit of a feeling of "ugh now what?" when I start a level rather than wanting to actually do it. This is probably just because it feels like I'm at work, which is admittedly why I didn't try the game out when it first came out.