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.