Chemicus: Journey to the Other Side

Review by Orb
October 2002

Chemicus is the latest release in the Quest for Knowledge series published by Tivola. Two titles previously released in the North American market, Physicus and Bioscopia, were not only excellent titles for kids, but delights as straight-for-fun adventure games. Similarly to its predecessors, Chemicus has an elegant and charming, old-world air that acclimates the player to science concepts and interactions via a first-person, point-and-click interface intertwined with an entertaining fantasy story.

Chemicus begins with a young scientist's discovery of an ancient amulet that unlocks the entrance to Chemicus, a strange city that is the repository of all chemical knowledge from the beginning of time. The scientist is kidnapped by mysterious men who claim he has interrupted the balance between his world and the world of Chemicus. You as the player find yourself with the task of journeying to this strange land to uncover its secrets and save the kidnapped scientist.

With lushly rendered graphics, Chemicus has the feel of a classic children's storybook. Machines and buildings are flavored with the uneasy appearance of being quasi-creatures with vivid facial expressions. The designers cleverly bestowing subtle humanity on the equipment in the surroundings not only gives the game a whimsical air, but makes it more kid-friendly. In this same vein, the cursor is entertainingly designed as an eyeball.

The game features slideshow-style graphics, some really knockout 3D movies, and film-quality music and sound effects. The graphics themselves are really well-drawn, and it is obvious a lot of time went into creating a singular look for the world of Chemicus that gives the place an otherworldly feel. This design flair, coupled with the detail in rendering, brings to the game immersive eye candy that can hold its own with the best of any of the top adventure games published in recent years.

As in all of the titles of this science adventure series, you constantly are given new areas to explore and puzzle through. There is quite a bit of back-and-forth in the game, as inventory found in any given area will be, almost without exception, used in an entirely different area. Additionally, with a good portion of the puzzles, quite a bit of inventory must be gathered before the puzzle can be completed.

Speaking of which, Chemicus has a really nice inventory system—old items disappear once a new area is begun, and the player scrolls through items by placing the cursor over one end or another of the dock holding the items. It's a really nice, clean design touch.

Although there is obviously a scientific aspect to the game, as regards chemistry, the designers have kept any other elements decidedly unconfusing with inventory and puzzles built in such a way that unforgivable mistakes cannot be made.

The game includes an encyclopedia called the "Brain Center" that teaches chemistry in a simple-to-understand format while giving clues needed to solve puzzles. Throughout gameplay, "knowledge chips" are discovered that, when added to the Brain Center, increase the amount of accessible information and clues for the player. Subjects in the encyclopedia run the gamut of basics in the field, including such things as organic chemistry and electrochemistry. One does not have to be a studied chemist to be a successful player, but I can't imagine that it does any harm to have had a class or two in one's life. The really great thing about how this is presented is that you are not stuck dealing with any slow-moving materials or equations; instead you increase your knowledge of the science through application of principles. Like any of the titles in this series, the science is not meted out in an unconfrontable manner, but rather in puzzles that are germane and fit within the environment.

Saves are unlimited; each one is separate and named as a time slot. I wasn't particularly fond of this, but it really posed no problems in overall gameplay. There is, unfortunately, a bit of CD swapping, but it's not entirely unmanageable. There were virtually no bugs in the game, and it ran as smooth as glass on a 466 MHz iBook running OS 9.1.

Chemicus, like the earlier games in this series, is highly recommended as a learning tool for kids studying chemistry, to increase understanding and the ability to see concepts in a way that they can be more easily grasped. It is also a very satisfying game for adventure game players of all kinds, as long as they bring their brains to the party. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Heureka-Klett and Ruske & Puhretmaier Multimedia
Publisher: Tivola
Release Date: October 2002

Available for: Macintosh Windows

Four Fat Chicks Links

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Screenshots

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System Requirements

PC:
Win 95/98/NT/ME/200/XP
Pentium II
233 MHz
64 MB RAM
50 MB free hard disk space
SVGS graphics card (32-bit)
Sound card
8X CD-ROM drive
Quicktime 5 (included)

Mac:
OS 8.1 or higher
233 MHz
Power PC/G3
64 MB RAM
50 MB free hard disk space
Thousands of colors
Sound card
8X CD-ROM drive
Quicktime 5 (included)

Where to Find It


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