Physicus is another in the series of games created by Heureka-Klett and brought to us by Tivola. Along with Chemicus and Bioscopia this is a group of edu-tainment games in the adventure category. Each game has its in-game reference material specific to the subject at hand for you to use or not as you wish, or as you need. I found Physicus to be the most enjoyable of the three, though I had never studied physics. Those who lack expertise in the sciences should not be put off by any of these games – since they are meant to be teaching tools as well as games, you will find no violence, you can’t die, and there are no puzzles so obscure you can’t solve them. That said – they are not games for just children, they are quite enjoyable for adults as well.
Physicus begins as a cut scene explaining that since the impact of a meteorite, the earth has stopped rotating. The scientist who is speaking to us implores us to continue his quest to put the earth back into its rotation by shooting off a large rock with sufficient energy. Our journey begins as we land at a dock, and begin to explore this small village. In the cut scene he has explained that all the inhabitants have left, yet inexplicably, we find in one of the first houses we enter, a kettle boiling water, and were unable to shut it off. He has left us a laptop of sorts with reference material in it for our use. We need to find and set three generators, so the combined force will be enough for our needs.
We will need to tap the various resources found in the village to obtain the items needed. We collect items in our inventory in an odd manner: we click on a usable item, and outlining boxes appear around it, and it teleports to our inventory. When we wish to use an item, we select it on the viewer, and it is projected out beside the viewer, allowing us to drag it to the place needed. This is somewhat unwieldy, but since the inventory is very small, it never becomes a tedious issue. We will utilize use of the “simple tools” of physics, such as the pulley, a touch of acoustics, some optics, and a lot of electrophysics. No nuclear or atomic physics are needed, so you can leave your quarks with charm at home. Any astrophysics needed has been done before we arrive.
Navigation is point and click, and mostly easy to manage, except perhaps getting across the village square, where you must travel to nodes, then progress. It is a 2D slideshow with a realistic environment, though somewhat fanciful in design. A first person perspective is used here, with no other human interaction whatever. The graphics are clear, and easily discerned. The music is used in a few places, and well executed. Sound effects are appropriate for the machinery, but few nature sounds are used.
Most of the village doors are locked with puzzles that need to be solved for entry, though a few doors need keys that must be found. Other puzzles are mostly concerned with getting various pieces of equipment to work. Clues are found all over, and not usually very hidden, except perhaps one key in a cellar. Although it is an “empty” environment, the puzzles are not as obscure or difficult as in Myst, for example. The most difficult part of the game is calculating the voltage required to send the projectile off. I found the amps, volts, ohms, and wire turns more than I could handle on my own, and turned to a walkthrough for assistance. Fortunately, there was a bare-bones walkthrough provided on the game disc itself.
I found this game to be fun, with lots to do and explore. While the theme of saving the world is a bit trite, the execution of this game was well designed. The game is short, less than 10 hours for an experienced gamer, but the calculations needed may take a while if you choose to go it alone without a walkthrough. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of games by Heureka-Klett and Tivola, and hope that the others may be translated to English, and imported to the USA.
Pentium PC 133 MHz
32 MB RAM
SVGA Graphics card
8 x speed CD-ROM drive
MAC Power PC
16 MB RAM
8 x speed CD-ROM drive
Many thanks to the wondrous team of Mystic Rainbow and Bacardi Jim for their editing prowess.
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