Opus Magnum: a new puzzler from Infinifactory creator

Hubble, bubble, toil and puzzle

Is there any joy like the humble Zachlike? Don’t answer that. Zach Barth, creator of head-scratchers like Spacechem and SHENZHEN I/O, continues his slow march towards filling the planet earth with intricately complex puzzle games. His development studio has just announced Opus Magnum [official site] a game of dark machinery and darker alchemy in which you must use a “transmutation engine” to create “vital remedies, precious gemstones, deadly weapons, and more”. You will be pleased to learn that it too has a built-in solitaire game.

Yup, looks like a Zachlike! As usual, there’s a story to go with all the complicated mechanisms. This time you’re an alchemist working for the old and wealthy House Van Tassen, where “dangers lurk behind the family’s opulent facade”. If it feels like you’ve Zached this before somewhere, that might be because it’s based on something that came long ago.

“If you’re familiar with my older works,” says Barth, “you’ll notice that it looks a lot like The Codex of Alchemical Engineering (the Flash game that essentially started the Zachtronics-style puzzle genre), but with the benefit of 10 years spent honing our design sensibilities on games like Infinifactory and SHENZHEN I/O.”

Players of the latter will remember a baked-in solitaire game that eventually became a game in its own right , and which Zachtronics even ported to MS-DOS on floppy disk, for seemingly no other reason than to see if they could. The best reason to do anything.

Opus Magnum itself is out on Steam early access on Thursday. I still haven’t finished my electrical engineering job in industrial China but I did have a great time tinkering with circuit boards. I’ll probably take a swing at inventing some poison.


  1. shinkshank says:

    Oh god, it’s hexagonal SpaceChem.


  2. Malcolm says:

    I love Zachtronics games, I played Spacechem quite a bit and Shenzen I/O a little. But they exercise the same parts of my mind as the day job (Software Development) so firing them up in the evening feels a bit like work :(

    Maybe one for the Christmas break.

  3. syndrome says:


    For those who lived under the rock, the name is based on Magnum Opus Challenge, a sequel to The Codex of Alchemical Engineering — one of the best puzzles ever, and probably the first programmatic puzzle that, along with Ruckingenur, launched Zach to his current heights, deservingly.

    I still have all of my solutions somewhere (save game in the linked game is sort of human-readable text that you copy & paste in a local text file).

    I very much enjoyed the ballet this game is letting you choreograph. It’s beautiful, and very hardcore technical at the same time (esp. for those who understand various styles that usually relate to the way code flows in an assembly).

  4. Carra says:

    Reminds me that I have to continue Shenzhen one day.

    One of those games where you feel smart making a machine that returns the correct amount of change money. Only to marvel at how inefficient it is five minutes later.

    • syndrome says:

      git gud

      • Alberto says:

        I’ve spent hours staring TIS 100 in impotent rage, trying to wrap my mind on the mid puzzles.

        And still I love it.

        But this one scared me for good.

        • blur says:

          Honestly, I’ve bought and loved all Zachtronics games, but it’s TIS 100 that I just couldn’t wrap my head around (and infinifactory, to an extent. I just felt that having to move my character around in 3D detracted from actually getting the puzzle done). Shenzhen I/O feels a much more…complete game? Much friendlier, with better human-machine interaction.

          • LW says:

            Yeah, TIS is too sterile. It’s just you and the code; Shenzhen gives you something to hang all those numbers off of, and much neater visuals of how it’s all moving around.

  5. Scrofa says:

    If ever there was a company which constantly makes games worthy of day-1 purchase it would be Zachtronics. Absolutely shameless hype!

  6. hughie522 says:

    I really want to like these games but I have neither the brains nor the patience to enjoy them, lol.

  7. bonuswavepilot says:

    Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! New Zach-things!

    Progress in TIS-100, Spacechem and Shenzhen I/O is about to get a bit slower. One day I’ll finish one of them and speed up the progress of the others…

  8. je says:

    I really love how he keeps improving on his earlier games and makes them bigger and better and way more complex. Can we have a new KOHCTPYKTOP or Ruckingenur next please?