Words & Physics, And What Could Yet Be

Without graphics to complain about, how about we whine about the font?

Words & Physics is so close to being a brilliant game. The concept is amazing: each screen features the challenge of getting rid of the words “REMOVE ME”, and you do this by deleting and typing new words into the level. As the title suggests, physics comes into play, meaning you can type letters that push the REMOVE ME block over an edge, or delete words making up supporting platforms so things fall. And then it gets even more interesting, with certain words behaving according to their meaning – in one level typing in “WATER” causes the word that space takes up to be occupied by water. In another, “FIRE” sets things alight. The possibilities seem incredible!

And then it doesn’t use them. In fairness, this is a short Flash game, not a professionally developed long-term project, and as such it’s a collection of ideas rather than a coherent whole. In fact, it plays like a tech demo for what might be an incredible game.

The frustration is, typing “WATER” only works in a couple of levels. Try that idea elsewhere and you’ve just got the word sat there, looking stupid. “FIRE” similarly does nothing when it’s not pre-ordained. Which means you end up imagining the game that it could have been, a sort of literary Scribblenauts, where experimenting with words to find more and more behaviours, and your own way of solving puzzles, would be the most extraordinary fun. Instead, you end up frustrated by not understanding why “MOVEUP” no longer creates a platform that drifts upward, when it’s exactly what you want to approach a particular challenge. So you have to abandon all your previously learned techniques, and try to figure out which concept it’s demoing this time.

That doesn’t stop it from being a very interesting game to play. It constantly has new, novel ideas. But oh my goodness, do I want to play the game I’ve realised it could be. The one where I could type in “EXPLOSION” and watch it detonate something, or “SLIPPERY” and have a nice, slidey platform. “GROWING” could be a word that gradually takes up more of the screen, while “BALLOON” floats and bumps around. Quickly, someone find me a development team and I’ll design it!


  1. PleasingFungus says:

    “Quickly, someone find me a development team and I’ll design it!”

    John Walker, Ideas Guy.

    • Phantoon says:

      “I’m going to need 1.1 million dollars for my game idea, I’m an ideas man.”

      • Ahtaps says:

        Are you a millionaire Pizza Tycoon? I’d certainly invest in your venture if so.

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  2. NathanH says:

    RIght, we’ve got the basic game mechanics but we need a few more things. Obviously we need RPG elements, I’ll get to them later. But first we need a story. Here goes: Greek man travels to England to search for the love of his life, an English girl he met on holiday as a teenager, while at the same time earning enough money to send home and pay off the national debt.

    He starts off with only a rudimentary phrasebook, and so has few words available in the game, but as he levels up his English skills he unlocks more words. We need choice’n’consequence… uh… you get to choose which newspaper you read, which influences the sorts of words and word-powers you learn, and also affects how other characters in the story react to you. Final boss is the Daily Mail.

    DLC: Different language packs, e.g. Cockney, Geordie, Pirate, Forum Troll…

  3. S Jay says:

    So close.

  4. Dozer says:

    Stuck on level 16.

    It’s like a very very basic text adventure!

    • DuddBudda says:

      at level 15 I was fascinated to see how the mechanics would be developed
      after needing walkthroughs for level 16 (I must have tried every synonym for ‘shove’ and ‘explode’) I had lost interest
      and then it ended

      shoulda read the wit

      off topic

      ‘Today’s scotch egg consumption: 7147
      Hivemind Throbometer reading: 0.218%’

  5. vivlo says:

    Anyway this lacks a GLOVE/LOVE puzzle.

    edit : all i knew about that was from the Beatles. I swear.

  6. Lambchops says:

    Without actually playing it yet I’d suggest that letting learned techniques keep on working may not be the best way forward. It just leads to taking the path of least resistance (and often the least fun). That’s what Crayon Physics suffered from and what I heard that Scribblenauts suffered from.

    Still nice concept, might give it a shot at some point.

    • P7uen says:

      In Scribblenauts wasn’t perfect, but the onus of enjoying the game is on the player so you can’t really criticise it for not being fun if you choose the boring options. It’s like saying drawing is boring because I always draw a smiley face. In this case I suppose if the devs could design smart enough levels it might still be possible for it to work, but even as a sandbox it would be awesome.

      If you haven’t played Scribblenauts I would recommend it, the single most awe inspiring game I’ve played, and something every kid in the world would benefit from playing.

      • Oozo says:

        What P7uen says. God, a dragon and a jetpack can get you through almost everything. (And in the game!) But the fun is in coming up with the most creative and weird solution possible. If you can’t challenge yourself to it, try playing “Scribblenauts” as a multiplayer and/or drinking game: different people taking turns in trying their hands on the most obscure way to solve any given puzzle. Before you know it, you’ll have started lightning up trees with madly enamored ocelots, turning Scribblenauts into a veritable machinery of dadaist madness.
        It’s amazing, is what I’m trying to say.

      • Keymonk says:

        Where would one get Scribblenauts? Is it only for the DS? It has interested me for a while, but I have none.

        • drewski says:

          It’s only for DS.

          Biggest problem I had with it was when my perfectly valid solution didn’t work, either because things weren’t scripted to interact, or because they weren’t in the dictionary at all.

        • Oozo says:

          There is also a version for iOS, called “Scribblenauts Remix” (since it contains the most popular levels of both the first and the second game, and the adjectives that were introduced in the second one). The control scheme works fine with a touch screen, and the possibility to use a keyboard makes this version even better than the DS version, IMHO. (Plus: It’s much cheaper.)

          Too bad that it was never ported to PC, though… I can only imagine what the modding community could do with it (other than inserting “penis” as a legit word).

  7. InternetBatman says:

    It’s pretty cool. I think they should have had less hints and it could have been a bit more complex and longer. Also, I hate timed puzzles like the final one. Neat concept though.

  8. ekuurh says:

    Sounds like a great game. with the option to add text wherever, might be very hard to balance, but would be awesome if it worked.
    If you need a rookie developer for this, mail me at ka.tom4@gmail.com

  9. The Random One says:

    Damn you, Mr. Walker, for also making me want to play the game you want to play.

    That game is bad. Just bad. It’s the time-honored kind of bad that has haunted good and bad puzzle games since the dawn of time: the ‘can you guess what the guys who designed this part were thinking?’ kind of bad.