|System: PC, iPhone||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Petri Purho||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Kloonigames||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 7, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Surprisingly, none of the puzzles put any limits on the player, and there are no special challenges wherein you can revisit a puzzle with new rules. We'd like to see puzzles where you can only use a certain number of pins, ropes, or objects. This would force players to use different methods to solve the problems. It would also be nice if some levels had different levels of gravity, or atmospheres that restricted movement in various ways, like in the planets from Meteos. Perhaps user-created levels can do these things; Purho could help by building more features into the level editor, but otherwise, simple directions like "use only two pins" would work.
The level-sharing community is in its infancy, but the ones we tried out were fairly promising. Purho should encourage the community by making the levels accessible directly through the game. As it is, you need to go to the website, download any levels you want to try to your desktop, and then drag them into the game's window.
It's the game's rampant glitches, however, that are the biggest problem. For the record, we ran it on a very normal Dell laptop (Inspiron E1405) with Windows XP. The computer's specs, while they fall short of "gaming PC" standards, are well above those the developer recommends.
At the extreme end, we managed to cause two crashes in our first play-through; we weren't intentionally pushing the game to the limit, we were just trying to solve the puzzles. When we made a rope that was too long, the entire program shut off, and when we put too many items on the screen, we received a message that "You broke my game!" and had to do the puzzle over from scratch. If there's a limit to how many items the physics engine can handle, as our onscreen admonishment stated, there ought to be an up-front limit to how many we can place, rather than just an ex post facto punishment of starting over.
To be fair, our strategies for solving those two puzzles were "Make a really, really, really long rope and keep attaching stuff to it" and "Keep stuffing items into this little bubble our pulley created," respectively. Then again, if the whole point of the game is to solve the puzzles in over-the-top ways, that shouldn't be a problem.
The more minor glitches are equally frustrating, and they usually involve the pulley system. When we draped ropes over items we'd created, they sometimes fell through the very end of the objects and didn't seem to transfer torque as well. Once, when testing a level we'd made in the editor, our rope repeatedly fell through the entire object when we went to drape it, as though the object didn't even exist. (We quit out of the editor and came back, and the problem disappeared.) It often takes multiple tries to attach an object to a rope as a weight, etc.
As of right now, Crayon Physics Deluxe is an example of innovative game design, but it's also an example of over-hype in the video game (and mainstream) media. Without the game's being talked up so much over a period of ten months, and without the overconfident price point all that talk probably inspired, this would be a terrific value and an inspiration to indie developers everywhere. As it is, the too-easy levels, the lack of any limitations to make the puzzles more difficult, and the serious technical issues make Crayon Physics Deluxe a bit of a disappointment. We've got our fingers crossed for some great user-created levels and for a few patches from the developer.
CCC Freelance Writer