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Better Living Through Chemistry: SpaceChem

Behold! I have made my pipe dream a reality.

Indie puzzler SpaceChem saw a quiet release on the 1st of this month, and in the two hours this morning that I spent playing it I’m not sure I stopped smiling. I’ll be getting Wot I Think up asap, so for now I’ll be brief: this game is incredible. I think we might have just received one of the year’s best indie games in the first week of 2011.

As you might gather from the trailer below, SpaceChem is about creating circuits for chemicals to travel down, aligning them in certain ways or shunting them through machinery to create the molecules you need. Wait- that sounds terribly dry. Let me try again.

SpaceChem is a game where you build fabulous contraptions. It’s about getting stuck into a massive puzzle, laughing at the optimism of what’s expected of you, and then finally applying what might be the finishing touch to your engine and cheering as it works. There’s even a strange element of not simply feeling like a gamer, but a scientist. You’re constantly having these little ‘Eureka!’ moments and folding them into a level to make for a more efficient machine. But this game isn’t just innovative and clever, it also (perhaps surprisingly for a game so very much about SCIENCE!) has an abundance of heart. Why is that so common in the best indie games? I do wonder.

But yes, this is some of the finest puzzling I’ve ever encountered. Here’s a demo, and you can buy the game for $20 from that same link. Get this game.

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Quintin Smith

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