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Opus Magnum whirs out of Early Access

Marvellous machines

The age of machines has begun. I'm not talking about world conquering, human enslaving robots from the Matrix or what have you, nor the warped logic of paperclip-producing AIs. I'm talking about clunky factory lines producing wizard-viagra ('stamina' potions), and cobbled together contraptions that eventually churn out stain-removers. Now that I think about it, those were two unfortunate examples to use next to each other.

What I'm trying to say is that ace puzzler Opus Magnum left early access on Thursday, so you've got no excuse not to jump in and start building machines of your own.

As with previous Zachtronics games, Opus Magnum was more or less done when it launched into early access in October. Updates since then have mostly been bug fixes and quality of life improvements, though a whole new element and an additional mini-campaign were added last month.

There are more bug fixes on the way, along with "at least one or two" new issues to the Journal of Alechemical Engineering, which are super-hard puzzles that aren't part of the main campaign. My experience with them is limited to opening one of them, staring at it for 5 seconds then saying 'NOPE' out loud and hitting alt-f4, though maybe you'll fare better than me. I've mainly made it as far as I have in the campaign by adopting a brute force approach to the puzzles, as demonstrated with this mess of a stain-remover:

See how the 'main' arm has to awkwardly rotate half a dozen times to fit through that gap and collect the other atoms? There's probably a near-infinite number of elegant solutions that avoid that faff, but they're all beyond me. The joy of Opus Magnum is that even though I'm aware of that, I'm still (perhaps misguidedly) proud of my own wonky solutions.

It's something that lead dev Zach Barth touched on when he sat down for a chat with Brendy:

"The funny thing is that a lot of the GIFs are people playing the game in a very conventional way. And this is the thing that I think is so funny, is that there's a lot of people – like the subreddit is almost entirely just GIFs – and there's lots of people posting GIFs and, like, their solutions aren't that special but they're unique and they're theirs, right? And so I think that speaks to the power of these open-ended puzzles. Even people who aren't, like, fucking breaking the rules or pushing the limits are actually still immensely proud because they really have made something that is their solution to the puzzle. And they're showing it off. I think in the past people only tended to show off when they did crazy things, but we've made it so easy and so accessible that it becomes this thing that everybody can show what they're working on. So, from my perspective, most of what they're doing is actually kinda boring but they're just playing the game as intended, you know? But I think that's great ... and I love that people feel attached to their solutions, even when they're just kind of playing the game normally."

Opus Magnum is 10% off until December 14th on Steam and DRM-free on Humble for £13.94/$17.99/€17.99.

Unfortunately you can't get the game on GOG, for Questionable Reasons:

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Matt Cox avatar

Matt Cox

Former Staff Writer

Once the leader of Rock Paper Shotgun's Youth Contingent, Matt is an expert in multiplayer games, deckbuilders and battle royales. He occasionally pops back into the Treehouse to write some news for us from time to time, but he mostly spends his days teaching small children how to speak different languages in warmer climates.