Opus Magnum’s most monstrous machines

'opeless Magnum

Opus Magnum is Zachtronics’ best game and you’ll have to extricate me from an impossible web of metal talons if you want to argue otherwise. It’s both understandable and open-ended. I spent almost ten hours on a single puzzle last week, not because I couldn’t decipher a solution but because I wanted a better solution. In the end, the stain remover I invented was a terrible, hacky mess. But I was proud of it. Like all of nature’s most wondrous creations, it had 17 arms.

But this is nothing. I’ve infiltrated a den of wicked alchemists (the Opus Magnum subreddit) and have seen some truly beautiful monstrosities. Let’s take a look.

Some of these are focused on speed, using a forest of arms to carry and cut elemental molecules to bits, like LPFR52’s grabby alcohol separator.

Others purify gold in a slow cascade, like Money_Fish’s hypnotic un-pyramid.

This snaking cluster of salt and metal should not even be possible. The user, biggiemac42, has used an exploit to avoid collision. It seems to transmute the metal of each “nugget” without ever dissecting it. Bugs and exploits are dark forms of alchemy and we at Rock Paper Shotgun only semi-approve of such methods.

Some machines are just pleasant to watch.

Some are willies.

And many are just ordinary machines.

But below is the smartest I’ve found. It’s an unassuming gold purifier by peanlocket, and it takes a whopping 1000+ cycles, making it the slowest alchemical contraption I’ve seen. But it is all squeezed within a mere 9 hexes – and it works. This is like minting pound coins inside the barrel of a revolver. It is scarily impressive.

A recent update to Opus Magnum brought another element, quintessence, to the game, along with a fresh bit of story to introduce it. The solitaire game has also been updated to include this element. I’m keen to see if I can improve on my gorgeous mechanical terrors without resorting to the shadowy tricks of the “output bug exploit”. I’m loving this game and, judging by some of these machines, you should be too.


  1. GrumpyCatFace says:

    Every time I see one of these articles, I completely lose track of work. Fantastic game, this is. :)

  2. TrenchFoot says:

    Well I will step back and admire this game but not purchase it as I’ve learned my mind doesn’t work in the way needed. My wife the programmer though would probably like it.

  3. Excors says:

    Pfft, only 1009 cycles? My 10-area attempt at a gold purifier took 2631 cycles, and I comfort myself by believing bigger numbers are better.

    (In programming terms it’s a basic recursion problem – to create gold you first create two silver then combine them, and to create each silver you first create two copper, and each copper needs two iron, etc, so it’s just a lot of repetition plus some stack space to store the intermediate products. But Opus Magnum’s programming language has no real control flow, so you have to manually expand the recursion into a linear sequence of hundreds of instructions, which gets a little tedious.)

    Still nowhere near as crazy as the Prime Detector problem in TIS-100 – my first working solution to that took about 300,000 cycles.

  4. ThTa says:

    “Opus Magnum is Zachtronics’ best game”

    Wanna know how I know you haven’t played Infinifactory?

    (Actually, I do struggle to decide which I prefer.)

    Zachtronics’ games are utter gems, and adding the ability to record looping videos in the more recent games was a stroke of genius. (Both as a way for players to brag/joke about their contraptions, and as very effective advertising.)

    • MajorLag says:

      And I personally disagree with both choices. Infinifactory (while still great mind you) is my least favorite Zachtronics Zachlike. Opus Magnum is really good, but I still put TIS-100 over it.

      • ThTa says:

        To each their own, eh?

        I’ve spent a lot of time with MIPS assembly and VHDL in the past, so you’d expect TIS-100 to be right up my alley (or perhaps be strongly averse to it)… But I just couldn’t get into it.

        I had a bit of fun with it, but it never really had me addicted like so many other Zachtronics games. If I couldn’t get past something, there was much less of a barrier to just call it quits and do something else.

        Which reminds me, I still haven’t started Shenzhen I/O. I’ll get right to that one.

      • Flavorfish says:

        I haven’t played Opus Magnum yet but for me my favorite was Spacechem. I think it was the coupling of 3 elements:
        1) The intense spatial constraints and overlap required a different kind of lateral thinking than TIS or Shenzen
        2) The difficulty curve was unrelenting!
        3) The multi-reactor solutions were amazing to watch and made the satisfaction of completion so much more intense.

        I was dissapointed by Shenzhen, I couldn’t play it without feeling my time would be better served actually programming. I just want bite sized ultra hard spatial twists on the prorgramming game. It looks like I’ll really enjoy Opus Magnum.

        • MajorLag says:

          I ad a similar feeling with Shenzen, it felt too much like work for me, which is probably why I stopped playing shortly after getting to Avalon.