Manic Mechanics – PS4 Review

Manic Mechanics is a co-op action party game from Scottish devs 4J Studios and it follows the tradition of other ‘work’ based games doing for car maintenance what Overcooked did for catering and what Moving Out did for furniture removals.

This game sees you working in a series of garages where cars come in and require replacement parts which arrive, mostly knackered, via a conveyor belt.  You control your mechanic, making them run between the conveyor belt and various repair stations where the parts can be fixed before you affix them to the car you’re working on.

The act of repairing parts is basically done via QTEs, once the bane of gamers everywhere but they work fine here.  When you start out you’ll only be concerned with three car parts.  Wheels are fixed by repeatedly pressing until done, doors have to be sprayed using the same button and the left stick and engines need you to hold down the button and release at the right time to hammer them into shape.  Once the part is fixed you just need to get it to the car but this process is made easier by you being able throw the part, using , at the car and as long as it gets near you should be alright which is a huge timesaver.

When the car is fully fixed, it disappears and a new one arrives in its place (although later levels have more than one car sometimes).  The amount of cars you fix adds to your score and at the end of the level you’ll get up to three medals based on how you did and then you’ll be thrown into the map screen where you drive around either exploring the area or just heading to the next level.

If you’ve played the games we mentioned at the start of the review, you’ll know what happens next.  Additional complexity is added.  Manic Mechanics does this by adding new parts to fix and more complicated level layouts.  The door painting station will be required to paint spoilers, a charging point will be used to recharge batteries for electric vehicles, radiator grills will need to be cleaned, circuits will need to be charged also.  And this is as levels add things such as teleporters, jump points, rotating floors, water hazards and so on.

That said, where the Overcooked got fiddly to the point of frustration, the difficulty curve here is a lot more gentle.   Even the ‘boss’ stages weren’t too bad.  Here you’ll get a rival mechanic trying to sabotage you by removing cars from play as you’re working on them or operating stage hazards to try to slow you down.  Thankfully, they aren’t too much of an annoyance and add a little bit of spice to the otherwise pretty straightforward game progression.

While the game is perfectly playable solo, you’ll want to draft in co-op buddies (either local or online) to delegate tasks too and, of course, that’s where the fun is.  That said, in this modern gaming age, getting three people on your sofa or getting them to pay the asking price (about £15) for it to play online could be tricky.  Which is a shame but, unfortunately, these games are pretty niche in terms of the appeal with the visuals appealing to kids, who’ll no doubt get bamboozled by the mechanics of the game under pressure, while probably having little appeal to adult gamers who might find it either too childish or just not compelling enough to play for the hours it takes to beat it.  When this eventually hits PS+ or PS Extra though, it’ll probably do great.

Thankfully though, if you can get some people to play it, the controls won’t let you down (although by default we found that player two had a different button config to player one, but whatever) and the fun, colourful visuals do a good job of keeping the action clear.  We especially appreciated the QTE prompts on each repair station which helped to keep us on track when things got chaotic.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of Manic Mechanics will likely depend on how your friends feel about playing this sort of game.  In 2008 this would have fitted right in back when we were all playing Bomberman and Worms on Xbox Live Arcade but in this post-pandemic world, it might be harder to get a session going.  But we liked it and the level of challenge was a nice change of pace compared to Overcooked and Moving Out.

Manic Mechanics
7 Overall
+ The core game mechanics were fun
+ The controls feel like they work with you, not against
+ Cheery, colourful visuals
+ Sings in multiplayer
+ Gentle difficulty curve avoids frustration
- Does get quite repetitive
- Solo play isn't all that appealing
Manic Mechanics is a fun, well-designed party game that eschews overly-complicated gameplay and puts the fun first.


About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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