The Codex of
The latest brilliant-yet-simple logic puzzle game to hit the Web goes by the intriguing title of The Codex of Alchemical Engineering. Called a "game for engineers" by its creator, your goal is to build machines out of mechanical arms that move and transform basic elements to create compounds required to pass each level. It's a cerebral puzzle game that tasks you with arranging and tweaking objects on both a small and grand scale, the final result of which is a burst of euphoric gaming bliss.
The interface is imposing in a minimalist sort of way, but once you know how to navigate you'll realize just how elegant the setup is. The grid to the right is where the action takes place. Here you can place mechanical arms to pull elements from generators (small circles), combine or change them using glyphs you place, then drop the element into the target zone (large circle at the top). The number in the goal represents how many times you must place the shown combination into the circle.
The left side of the screen is where you select and program mechanical arms and choose from a variety of transformative glyphs to place on the grid. The menu items at the top switch pages and send you to the programming screen where you set up the motions of individual arms. You'll spend most of your time here dragging and dropping commands to form a string of actions that get the job done. Move the icons around and play with the timing of each arm so it works in unison with the rest of your contraption.
The Codex of Alchemical Engineering doesn't give you much information to start with, so here's a basic run-down of how to play. First, take note of the generators and which elements they produce compared to the target compound. Start by placing a mechanical arm near one of the generators. Next, click to highlight the arm and access the "programming" item at the top of the menu. Each arrow and symbol represents a single movement (hold the cursor over any command and help text at the bottom of the screen will tell you its function). Drag and drop these onto the column in the order you need, then click "run" at the bottom of the screen to set things in motion. Watch what happens and stop and tweak things as necessary, fine-tuning your creation until it functions exactly as you want it to. You may need to adjust arm positions or arrange glyphs in more convenient locations, but trial and error is the key to success. It takes practice and lots of problem solving to achieve the desired result.
Analysis: Imposingly sparse, alarmingly scientific, confusingly simple. These were my first impressions of The Codex of Alchemical Engineering. With no explanation as to how things work, my first few minutes with the game were filled with confusion and frustration. But very soon, everything just "clicked", and suddenly The Codex of Alchemical Engineering was one of the most captivating logic puzzle experiences I've had in years. Don't let the "game for engineers" phrase scare you away, as it can be enjoyed by anyone who likes solving puzzles and is surprisingly casual in nature thanks to a handy system that lets you save and share solutions by copy/pasting a short text code.
The true beauty of the game is that not only do you have to figure out how to create and move the elements, but your machine must do it repeatedly and automatically. It's challenging to make things work one time through, but it's an entirely new level of puzzle solving to make it happen three, four, and five times in a row. This requires constant revision of your programming steps, trimming the excess fat to craft a truly efficient machine. When everything fits together, it's pure poetry, and you'll feel deservedly accomplished for composing the beautiful machine.
The game had a few awkward hiccups while I was playing, but it may have been a computer/internet issue not specific to the game itself. Either way, it shifted the timing of the mechanical arms, messing up my entire machine. A quick "stop" then "run" put everything back in working order. Also, some of the symbols can be difficult to read at a glance, as they're quite small and offer poor contrast to some of the elemental background colors. Not much of a drawback considering how thoroughly the game has me hooked.
Brainy, simple, challenging and surprisingly fun. The Codex of Alchemical Engineering may not be for everyone, but if it grabs your interest, it's not letting go for a very long time.
(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)
These are my solutions up to Level XII.
Level I - Aqua Vitae (6 Symbols, 28 Cycles):
Level II - Sal Ammoniac (18 Symbols, 31 Cycles):
Level III - Cinnabar (24 Symbols, 34 Cycles):
Level IV - Litharge (40 Symbols, 53 Cycles):
Level V - Oil of Vitrol (32 Symbols, 45 Cycles):
Level VI - Aqua Fortis (60 Symbols, 58 Cycles):
Level VII - Haematite (81 Symbols, 102 Cycles):
Level VIII - Brimstone (35 Symbols, 105 Cycles):
Level IX - Aqua Regia (80 Symbols, 60 Cycles):
Level X - Vertiginis (112 Symbols, 87 Cycles):
Level XI - Black Powder (136 Symbols, 93 Cycles):
Level XII - Gold (24 Symbols, 108 Cycles):
Posted by: Gafada | January 5, 2009 8:32 AM
Here is My Solution to Level XIII - Elixir of Life (208 Symbols, 176 Cycles, 14 Arms, 5 Glyphs):
Posted by: Gafada | January 5, 2009 5:56 PM
Level XV: ????????
This is an awesome game! Even my non-programmer wife got into it. She solved levels 1 and 2, and then helped me solve the last level (level 15).
P.S. Why is everyone posting their solutions to level 14, the Philosopher's Stone, and saying it is the "last level"? Level 15, ????????, is the last level.
Posted by: Jon Andersen | January 6, 2009 12:02 AM
My solution to Level XIV - Philosopher's Stone (288 Symbols, 188 Cycles):
Posted by: Gafada | January 6, 2009 11:46 AM