CRAYON PHYSICS DELUXE / Kloonigames / PC
 
 
Crayon Physics Deluxe is what frustrates me about indie games in a nutshell. You've got one neat gameplay idea that the whole experience is based around, but the actual game turns out to be kind of tedious to play, and all that hard work by the author ends up equating to maybe a semi-interested hour or so of gameplay on your end, followed by perma-deletion from the hard drive.

This happens for different reasons with different games, but here the problem is similar to what turned me off to semi-similar titles Gish and World of Goo; the whole game centers around realistic physics, yet in certain situations the physics either become inconsistent with established/expected rules or just a flat matter of guesswork as to what arbitrary way the game is going to interpret them. In the end you end up with something more like Crayon Trollphysics in a lot of situations, really.

Crayon Physics is essentially a more limited version of Scribblenauts. Instead of drawing stuff and having the game interpret what it is and make it come to life, you simply get one go to draw a basic shape, with the goal always being to force a ball to roll to a star somewhere else on the screen. Aside from basically making shapes fall from the sky Meteo style, your other major thing is being able to draw small circles that can act as hinges, and then boxes around said hinges that can rotate to putt the ball and push other objects and such.

The game is cute and has a nice soundtrack and everything, and I really wished it worked better on the whole, but it just doesn't. A slew of small problems eventually adds up to just getting tired of the whole affair and shutting it off. One is that you don't really have a good gauge of the actual mass/weight of either your little ball or the things you draw, so solutions involving using gravity to shift momentum from falling large objects often have unpredictable and sometimes bizarre results. And I really hope you have a fetish for building hinge/rope/pulley and cantilever systems because it seems like 90% of the levels require some variant of that for the solution. With such an open-ended system it's a little disappointing that so many levels have the same conditions and restrictions. And maybe this is better when playing on a tablet, but with a mouse it sometimes feels like you're tediously doing a freehand Photoshop more than playing a game.

The game is also pretty easy to craft simple and brute-force solutions to the puzzles. I've seen it said in online discussions is that the "point" is to ignore the obvious solution and go batshit crafting some crazy Rube Goldberg alternate solution to see if it works. That's a very hit-or-miss proposition for the audience. For me it's a big Miss - I just don't care for creating needless complexity in my leisure time. I love to explore open-ended games, but not so much when all there is to do is build ever more elaborate hinge and pulley systems. Maybe if I was an engineering student or something? I dunno. I'm also not a fan of Terraria/Minecraft, so take that for whatever it's worth. I'll go back to my Budweiser and watching tits explode or whatever now.

Anyway, interesting little toy to play with for a little while, and the original release (called simply Crayon Physics) is freeware. Asking $20 for Crayon Physics Deluxe seems asking a little much. Won't eat up much time (or any money) to try the freeware version first though, I guess.
 
 
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