...and chemistry becomes an adventure
Genre: Edutainment adventure
Suitable for ages 12 and up
A review by Gini 11th January 2002
A young man, Richard, reads a letter from a friend, whose role you will later take over. The chemistry enthusiast Richard discovered a world, which is completely based on chemistry and he wants to explore it now. The friend asks to wait for him, but Richard does not have time. But before he could do something, some strangers appear and kidnap him to their world, which seems is slowly going down. The other ones accuse Richard of stealing their "transmitter molecule", which is essential for their world to stay alive.
Click on the picture to magnify
The mysterious amulet, that opens the door to Chemicus
Your task is to save your friend Richard and manufacture the missing molecule. To do that, you must first find a way into the other world, find your way there and then try to reach the tower, which represents the central unit.
In the first minutes of the game you find a device that beside the menu, the inventory and other useful things also contains a communicator that helps connecting you with Richard. He either announces in irregular intervals, if you could enter a new location or have solved an important task. It's not possible to lead a real conversation with Richard, because he's only talking in monologues, in which he partly asks for assistance and hurry, partly gives you significant information concerning the final goal (production of the transmitter molecule).
Chemicus' world is arranged into individual locations, which are connected by an underground tubing system which can be used by means of a tube-vehicle moving therein. The control area is suitably represented by the periodic system, in which some items are missing, that you have to find and arrange in the right places. By clicking the elements you can travel to the respective area (e.g. into the "Ti" - or "H"-area). The game is played from the view of the friend, whom you will never face, however.
Learning sections and info-chips
The learning-section corresponds in approximately Bioscopia's "BigBrain" with the differences that first, one can access it always and everywhere and secondly, that one can't read all of the texts of the section from the beginning. You will receive these texts only in the form of info-chips. When starting the game you thus won't have access to all information, but only to the general and basic informations ("Chemistry - World of Substances", "Substances and their Characteristics" etc.) and such information of course, which you need for the starting puzzles.
In the course of the game you'll find the info-chips already mentioned, which are first displayed in the inventory and when next calling the learning section are automatically loaded together with the other sections.
This is a little disadvantage, because once, the info-chip has disappeared from the inventory, no more reconstruction could be done, which one was found where and when or which information was stored in a particular chip.
So I recommend to write down, where you've found which chip. Also very tricky is the fact that one info-chip contains indeed one section (e.g. "Electro-Chemistry", "Redox Reactions", etc.), but this information not exactly corresponds to information in the learning-sections. Thus for example the learning-chip "Process Engineering" provides access to several individual and scattered sub-chapters that can't be recognized as ONE chapter under the main topic. The learning-section itself is designed more complex and also more unclear than Bioscopia's "BigBrain". In comparison with "Bioscopia" it also contains a lot of pictures, but however no animations and in "Chemicus" there is also no narrator available. The very texts are actually halfway understandable (at the latest after reading them for a second time). They are filled with numerous links to other texts, since many topics are overlapping and can be hardly separated.
The main sections (e.g. "Acids & their Characteristics" or "Organic Chemistry") are divided into sub-chapters. Within these one can page by arrow. But if one changes the section, which has to be done often via the numerous linkages, it is often complicated to find the way back again to the original topic.
Though there is a button, which displays the last called topics, it seems to follow its own rules, because for me it was partly almost impossible to return at first attempt back to the original section. A simple "back-button" (similar to the "back-button" of your internet browser) would have been helpful here.
Besides numerous other links, there is also a possibility to access a glossary that proved as a very helpful feature. Altogether however I liked Bioscopia's "BigBrain" much more, whereby one must declare in favour of "Chemicus" that chemistry might perhaps be a 'tiny bit' more complex.
The puzzles are quite varied, naturally they have all together to do with chemistry. For example, the still quite easy decalcifying of a tap by citric acid, the manufacturing of glass or representing the structural formula of a molecule by colored glass beads. I noticed on the positive side that the level of difficulty rises during the course of the game. So in the beginning your school knowledge from your chemistry class will do perhaps, as for instance with the production and use of an indicator, later on however the average chemically talented humans among us will surely have to visit the learning-sections, where all necessary information is stored - or do you know by heart, which substances must be added to produce a sparkler?
In contrast to its "sister" Bioscopia the puzzles in "Chemicus" are still more interwoven with the environment. In Bioscopia your theoretical knowledge was sufficient many times, for example when testing it with a multiple choice question system. In "Chemicus" you'll apply the just learned stuff more directly, you are not only asked for the procedure of the pig-iron production, but you have to manufacture it yourself.
I would classify the puzzles, particularly those, the gamer meets in the later process of the game, as rather difficult. There are however some hints, which help finding the solution in a logical way. There are for example the descriptions of the objects, which show up when moving the mouse across: So it is not difficult to guess, what must be manufactured in a container, that is called "a reactor with gypsum remainders".
An approximate suggestion with whatever items you'll have to deal with in a certain part of the game, is given by the control board of the vehicle in form of the periodic system and by the info-chips received in the respective parts of the story. Thus in the Sn-Pb-area for example a lead-tin-mixture is needed and you get an info-chip in the smell-laboratory about esters. The largest and most important help provider is of course the learning-section. I wouldn't have made it through the game without it.
In "Chemicus" you are most of the time concerned with the manufacturing of most diverse materials. How these are to be produced can be found on the one hand in the different recordings, as for example in the repair log or laboratory journal, on the other hand in the learning-part. Here especially the glossary is a great assistance to get the necessary information fast. You'll also meet a lot of formulas. It is advisable to note down everything because one never knows, where it will come in handy.
The puzzles are quite complex, so adjustments, made in one place could have quite important effects on another place. These connections very often concern the power supply and are, although due to most diverse hints (texts, graphs ...) actually obvious, but they are usually difficult to over-look and only after long walkings back and forth (or a view into the solution) halfway show their logic.
You cannot solve the puzzles without visiting other locations first, so you should go to each and every place, before concentrating on one puzzle. In order to give you an impression of the puzzles, here some examples: To make the power mains functional you need knowledge about the electrical conductivity of materials. To get the ingredients of a parfum you must make a fractionated distillation. A liquid has to be coloured by a self-created red cabbage indicator. Which bases and acids are necessary? Knowledge of photography and behavior of silver-bromid is needed when producing a door code-card with a special picture.
How can I increase the CO2 content in a greenhouse to open it at last? Which colour do glass balls have to have to represent certain items and with which can I at all color glass?
The main task is particularly tricky: You have to find out the exact structure of an unknown material to create a 3D-model, because this "transmitter molecule" is urgently needed by the inhabitants, to save their world and free Richard.
Controls and inventory
"Chemicus" is controlled completely by mouse. At the bottom of the screen are different buttons, to access the menu, learning-part and inventory. In the course of time the inventory is filling with enormous amounts at objects, liquids, etc.. It is located at the right lower corner and comes up. Its enormous capacity has the disadvantage that, if you are not quite sure or want to try out some objects, you have to scroll to the desired item each time from the start, what can be rather annoying. It would have been substantially more practical, if the inventory would remain open, until one presses e.g. the inventory button.
One can examine the chemical compounds and items in the inventory with an analyzer for the more exact composition. It is located at the lefthand side and can be pulled over the objects. This is often very helpful, since the markings do not correspond necessarily to their chemical names. Behind the name soda Na2CO3 is hiding, needed for the production of glass, and potash means K2CO3.
Depending upon possibility the cursor changes from an eye-icon into arrows to the left, right and forward. You can look upwards and downwards or turn around and thus you should go through all possibilities at each location, not to overlook anything. If you move your mouse over a hotspot (areas where you can do something), the cursor transforms into a hand.
Graphics, sound and options
The graphics are actually very beautiful. There are only very rare transitions between the individual screens, but they are very detailed and beautiful drawn. The starting and ending sequences are still a tick better. Here also some characters appear, who are rather rare during the rest of the game. Here and there you will watch the inhabitants of the world walking along, dressed with a white cowl - this is the only sign of life in the chemical world. The sound consists of some effects, like the splashing of water, the squeaking of a door or the clicking of a button. Neither great nor real disturbing. The volume of the effects is adjustable via the option menu. Moreover you can also switch off the display of object texts (which I would not recommend) as well as the hardly noticeable transitions of one screen to the other.
I have to criticize that "Chemicus" has really misery-long saving and loading times. At the start, when after a short playing time, they are still normal but will increase with further exploring ever more so that you can comfortably get a cup of tea in between or fetch the letters from the mail-box. In brief: It simply takes too long. Possible, that this is a computer specific problem, nevertheless it is extreme exerting!
- Fastidious, varied puzzles
- The puzzles are well integrated into the game and the convincing complex world
- Partial somewhat unclear learning-part
- Extremely long saving and loading times
A good, graphically beautiful designed game, with well integrated chemical puzzles. Apart from the nerving loading times a really enjoyable game.
My rating: 84%
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
System requirements: Played on: PC MAC Windows 98/NT/ME/2000 233 MHz PowerPC ab G3 Windows 98 64 MB RAM System 8.1 or higher AMD Athlon (tm) Processor 233 Mhz Pentium II 64 MB RAM 1400Mhz Windows compatible sound card 50 MB on hard disk 256 MB RAM CD: 8x (better:12-x) or DVD Graphic card: 32 bit with 800x600 LITEON CD-ROM LTN362 Graphic card: 32 bit with 800x600 CD: 8x (better:12x) or DVD CMI8738/C3DX PCI Audio Device 50 MB free space on hard disk