The way we interact with games continues to evolve, with changes occurring around the interface, input devices and within the games themselves. The advent of physics-based game engines in recent years has ushered in a new chapter in the gaming continuum where virtual worlds take on physical qualities closely mirroring the rules governing ours. To put it another way, physics aren’t just for First Person Shooter games. And, in appropriate fashion, this trend has duly seeped its way out to the independent gaming community – where we also happen to find many freeware titles.
One game in particular stands as a testament to the way physics engines can, and ought to be, integrated with otherwise conventional games. I can’t say it was one of the first to adopt this design approach, but Crayon Physics has a kind of simple appeal that’s practically undeniable. Petri Purho’s use of crayon renderings coupled with soft paper textures presents a feeling that we all might remember from the past. Except in this case those scribblings become blocks & lines of various shapes & sizes used to solve simple to moderate puzzles. The stated goal of the game is to coax the red ball to the little yellow star on each level. You do this by drawing shapes with the mouse cursor that can fall onto or otherwise manipulate the red ball. Other than that there are no other rules. A level can be played or solved however you like with any number of possible solutions. And that’s really the beauty of games like this, the freedom inherent in having a game world pre-governed by rudimentary laws of physics.
It has to be said that one of the most endearing features of the game is the accompanying track by artist “ghost Lullaby,” which sets a distinct feeling and tone. For non-gamers or those who shy away from action oriented titles this is definitely one game worth checking out. And despite the fact that it is technically a ‘puzzle’ game, Crayon Physics is actually very relaxing to play. There is no time or other pressure to beat a level. Nothing has been built in to hinder or dictate the pacing other than your own creativity and experimentation. Should the red ball fall out of bounds it merely returns to where it started. Or, you can press the space bar to reset the level. By the way, the Escape key brings up the menu if you prefer to jump around or try another level.
By most standards Crayon Physics is a short game. All eight levels could easily be finished in 20-30 minutes by most players. There are several reasons for this, most notable being that Crayon Physics ended up becoming a predecessor to the recently released Crayon Physics Deluxe ($19.95). If you found the freeware version enjoyable, and don’t mind supporting an independent developer, this commercial release offers 70+ levels and a slew of new shapes and other features. I haven’t had a chance to play it myself yet, but this one’s definitely on my wish list…
Designer: Petri Purho
Format: Compression Pack
File Size: 5.6 MB
Control Scheme: Mouse
Version Played: 1.0
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