With the arrival of the latest Humble Indie Bundle, we had the arrival of some new games for the Linux platform and some that were available in the past but may escaped your attention.
This was the case with SpaceChem for me. When this game got released I didn’t have the time to play it and then after a while I forgot about it. Luckily, with the latest HIB, I got the chance to play this amazing puzzle game and decided to feature it for this week’s “Friday Game”!
SpaceChem gives you the role of a Reactor Engineer that must use raw materials and single elements to produce specific chemical molecules via a visual programmable assembly line. To do this you will have to use simple tools and specific functions that are available to you, and a LOT of deep thought and imagination.
Although the tutorial could be more comprehensive, it is good and linear enough to help you understand slowly what you must do each time. The game is divided on levels where you will have to produce different molecules to succeed. The story and tutorial go side by side by default, but you can always choose to override this and play what you want.
Every reactor map includes four fields of actions on a 8×10 grid. You can choose to put input/output functions, rotators, synchronizers, bonders/unbonders, grabers and dropers and many more. All these are used to manipulate the atoms, create the correct molecules and finally educe from the reactor successfully. This poses a great challenge as you must be careful of colliding elements and molecules, keeping the correct number of bonds between the elements and output everything on the right pipe.
SpaceChem is all about this kind of maps really as you will be given the chance to unfold your imagination and really invent a solution instead of discovering the solution. There isn’t really a “right way to do things” here and that is the magic and the difficulty of this game, as the trial and error method becomes the hunting of limitless possibilities.
And this can get really complicated and completely mind bending when reaching to more advanced stages…
Apart from the simple reactor-maps, you will also find larger maps with tanks that produce simple elements. You will have to connect these tanks to reactors using piping system and then take the output from the one reactor and use it as the input to the next one till you get the desirable result. These maps are again all about the reactors really and is like having many reactors maps at once, but they work great for the storyline and the greater picture of it that is usually the Achilles heel of all puzzle games.
There seems to be an emotional pattern to all puzzle games that starts with a “no way I can solve this” map, continues with frenetic trial and error approach that may last from one second to a lifetime, and finishes with the feeling of accomplishment when solving the map. SpaceChem will provide a pure high level puzzle gaming for all the aforementioned three stages.
I really loved playing this game, I had a great time and had some very exciting moments. Is this the best puzzle game I played this year? I am not sure about that, but SpaceChem is maybe the most rewarding and the most gray matter consuming puzzle game I played for a very long time. I absolutely recommend SpaceChem to everyone!