Monday, January 24, 2011

DEMO: SpaceChem (PC, Mac, Linux) UPDATE

SpaceChem for PC, Mac, and Linux

Genre: Puzzle/Strategy
Full Game Price: $20.00
No. of Players: 1

UPDATE: I looked for system requirements on the SpaceChem website and could not find any. I was able to contact Zach, the creator of SpaceChem, and here's what he had to say: "The only spec I recommend having is a video card that supports FBOs (Frame Buffer Objects), as that enables a lot of our neat rendering features (previews, video upload, and "quick alt-tab" fullscreen)." Thanks, Zach!

In 5 Words: Crazy, Challenging, Rewarding, Cerebral, Engrossing

I saw a link to this game on a game comic website, so I checked it out. I watched the youtube video and downloaded the free demo. Then I started playing SpaceChem. I've had a hard time thinking about playing anything else since (yes, even Fluidity).

In SpaceChem, you play as a chemical engineer designing and executing chemical reactions in order to meet company objectives. Does that sound fun to you? Are you an engineer, a chemist, or programmer? If so, please, by all means go and get the demo. If that doesn't sound fun to you, well, I would encourage you to take the time to download the demo and try it out for 5-10 minutes. If it hasn't hooked you by then, move on. If it has, well...buckle up.

SpaceChem is a fascinating blend of logic, timing, and micromanagement. The puzzles start easy, but become challenging very quickly. The graphics are simple and fun, and the orchestral soundtrack helps you keep your composure during difficult puzzles. SpaceChem also allows you to record your solutions and post them to youtube, and for the statistically minded, it also provides bar graphs comparing you against other players.  These graphs often show that I am not the most efficient chemical engineer, but just finishing some of the more complex levels feels like a grand accomplishment. It feels like my brain is growing every time I play SpaceChem.

In SpaceChem, you start by designing a set of paths and instructions for red and blue "waldos" that manipulate atoms and molecules inside of a chemical reactor, as seen above. In later levels, you have to manage multiple reactors in a worldview, as seen below. These two game modes are what you will see most in the demo, but there are others, including a defense mode where you have to protect your base.

SpaceChem is not for everyone, that is certain, but it has been great fun for me. The demo is very replayable unless you are much better than me. I plan to go back to each level in the demo and see how I can make my designs better. The full game is only $20 and it will soon be taking up a lot of my time.

Demo Gamer's Stats:
Age range: 12 and up
Demo length: 1-4 hours
Demo worth playing? Take a few minutes to find out for yourself.
Full game worth buying? You bet!

Have you played SpaceChem yet? Did you feel your cranium swell? Sound off in the comments!

--Demo Gamer

(System used to play SpaceChem: 1.6 GHz Mobile Core2Duo, 4 GB RAM, NVidia 8400M, ~175 MB of hard drive space required)

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