Reviewed: August 8, 2010
Released: July 16, 2010
App Store Price: $4.99
Alchemy originated as the ancient practice of trying to turn base metals into gold and ultimately evolved into what we now know as Chemistry. For the purposes of Master of Alchemy we return to the origin of the term as we deal with the transmutation of matter between three known states, solid, liquid, and gas.|
The game itself is a classic puzzle game where you must guide matter particles through a maze, often so large you need to scroll the screen around to see it all. Along the way you will be required to change the particles into various states. If you destination is above you in the maze then you need the particles to be gaseous so they rise, but you may need to convert that solid into a liquid before you can turn it into a gas.
As you can see, the logistics are quite clever in theory but wait until you see how the wizards at DarkWave Games worked all these matter-changing puzzles into some of the most beautifully detailed levels Iíve seen in puzzle game in quite some time.
As with most puzzle games, you are required to solve these puzzles as fast as possible and Master of Alchemy rewards your speed with bonus points, rewards and achievements, all tracked on Crystal Leaderboards. The clock is constantly ticking and pop-ups will inform you when a potential reward has been lost. No one expects you to perfectly solve the 60+ levels in this game your first time, and the gameís embedded reward system will encourage you to replay them all until you have mastered them.
Each puzzle challenges you with new navigation paths where you can use any of up to 20 difference Alembics to guide and change the state of the original matter particles. A slide-out toolbox along the edge gives you access to the available mechanisms for that level. You drag them out onto the screen and can then rotate and position them precisely to manipulate the stream of particles to your next destination. As the game progresses, the paths get more complicated as do the matter-changing puzzles. There are also 10 interactive obstacles youíll need to overcome throughout the game such as collapsible walls, a hot air balloon, or gates.
Visually, the game is simple yet stunning with a definitive Steampunk vibe that only an Italian developer with true artistic vision could conjure up. Even the menus and scoring screens mirror this attention to detail. The music is limited to the opening splash screen and menus, but it is so magically fantastic and soothing I want to buy it on iTunes or find some way to listen to it outside the game. Once you get into the actual game you are left with a stress-inducing ticking clock and the pitter patter of tiny matter particles streaming through the levels.
Master of Alchemy is quite large with 60 challenges levels that get progressively more challenging the further down the list you go. Each new level builds on the experience and knowledge you have gained from previous ones, and as mentioned before, the rank and rewards system is a great incentive for trying these levels over and over again. You can create multiple profiles for multiple players and there are six character portraits to choose from when creating a new profile, each with their own background story.
I cannot recommend this game highly enough. At $5, Master of Alchemy will offer you upwards of 10-15 hours of solid entertainment and thatís not even counting all the replaying of levels you will undoubtedly be doing. The game is fun and addictive and looks amazing. The concepts are simple to understand so anyone with a logical mind can work things out no matter how young or old they are.
DarkWave Games may be true alchemists for they have done what no one else has been able to do since the art of alchemy was invented Ė they have turned a simple concept into solid gold.