SpaceChem is a very addictive puzzle game from Zachtronics Industries. The game revolves around atoms and molecules. You have a reactor with 2 inputs and two outputs and a grid between them. The aim is to take the inputs and do whatever needs done to make the output(s). You can perform various actions on the elements including bonding them to other elements to make more complex molcules or removing the bonds to retrieve individual atoms from a molecule. The molecules can also be turned if they are required to be in a specific shape.
Each reactor has a pair of “waldos”, one red and on blue, these waldos are the things which perform the various actions on the molecules to get them from the input to the output. You can create a path for the waldos to move along and lay down a sequence of actions for the waldos to perform at various points along the path. The first level has you request the input, pick up the molecule, drop the molecule at the output and send the molecule out. From there it gets complicated, fast.
The tutorial levels hold your hand through the first few levels while it introduces you to the various concepts of moving, droping, adding and removing bonds. After that it leaves you alone to discover your own solutions to each puzzle. There are many different solutions to each puzzle and once you have completed a level you get a run down of how well your solution works compared to others who have played the game. This gives you an incentive to revisit earlier levels and try to refine your solution.
Eventually the game introduces the concept of multiple reactors, you are given some inputs and a desired input. The idea is to use as few reactors as possible to produce the output. You may be given three inputs which would mean using at least 2 reactors to create the output, chaining the reactors together so the output from one is the input to another.
The storyline in SpaceChem is incidental to the game. You can chose not to read any of the story text and not really lose anything from the game play. The story centres around a new recruit to SpaceChem a company which provides “chemical necessities to human colonies on a universal scale”. You are sent to train on a planet called Sernimir II but from there on the story has little bearing on what you are actually doing in each level.
SpaceChem is a fun addictive puzzle game that will suck up hours of your life and leave you wanting more. It exercises the grey matter and you will find yourself staring at a mess of paths and instructions unsure of what exactly will happen when you start the reactor. The feeling of joy is quite overwhelming when your carefully thought out plan actually works.
9 brain melting solutions out of 10