reviews Crayon Physics Deluxe for the PC.
Crayon Physics Deluxe, according to the official website, is a 2D physics puzzle / sandbox game where you get to experience what it would be like if your drawings would be magically transformed into real physical objects.
More accurately, the game could be described as a sandbox-with-limitations game, whose a mission mode which tasks the player to bounce, roll, push, and lead a ball to collect a (, or several,) star(s) in order to complete the mission. Each mission has a fairly finite number of plausible solutions. Sadly, a majority of the game's most interesting mechanics rarely appear more than once or twice.
Art of simplicity.
Part of the charm of Crayon Physics is the simplicity through which the game is executed. The easiest way to solve a puzzle is also often the most obvious. In a way, it appeals in the same way that a child with a crayon does, especially in the early stages of the game. The later stages, on the other hand, often seem to suffer from a lack of direction. While half of the fun of a sandbox, the very goal-centric nature of the gameplay can feel like it's trying too hard to be open-ended about your choices while providing a lack of precious freedom. Even if that feeling never pervades, sometimes the seemingly nonsensical nature of the mission frustrates to a point of disliking the game for a time. Despite that, it's still a fun romp in the physics-sandbox that is Crayon Physics.
Poetry in complication.
Though, the best part of Crayon Physics is the sandbox elements of it. Because there is no real concrete method of going from point A to point B, the player can really get as absurd or simplistic with their solutions to levels or challenges. I've found joy in creating the most bizarre of simple machines or Rube Goldberg contraption whose entire purpose it to poke the ball a few centimeters.
Though, while I'm on the subject, it's very easy to get ahead of oneself while creating a very elaborate setup. This can often cause a mess on-screen, which makes for a lot of trouble while having to clean up the ensuing mess. Though like stacking dominos, even this part of the process can be charming in its own way.
The graphics themselves are also simple, but conveys it's own simplicity with the same panache that the gameplay can achieve as well. While not incredibly complex, or artful, it is still very appealing in a simplistic way that goes beyond just how high the resolution is. Though the game is still feeling like it's missing something. Subtle creases and folds appear in the paper background, which shows attention to detail, but doesn't feel like it's a part of the world. Having everything seem so withdrawn, even with the attention to the details, make the game feel less like it's a part of the process, and instead just added to give the illusion of depth.
Sometimes it's a little too simple.
Musically, the game is nothing outstanding. The non-immersive atmosphere joined with a scant triplicate of audio tracks does more to turn the game into a simple desktop time-waster far more effectively than any lack of meritorious gameplay. The songs and sounds themselves are very minimalistic, and fade seamlessly into the background. If this is your thing, then it's certainly no demerits on the game, but if you are the type to enjoy a game musically as well as the other facets, you'll find this part of Crayon Physics Deluxe to be a miss.
Once you've exhausted much of the game's built-in levels, the level editor provides an expansive and joyous frolic with the game in a full-sandbox sort of way. It's easy to re-imagine any level you felt could have seen improvement, or create your own completely unique level. The layout and concepts are artfully done, but occasionally a little too picky for their own good, and can create frustrations quite as often as they can unique design capabilities.
Most notably, one of the most desirable tools for any 2D level editor is missing, that tool being a straight-edge. As well as that, the maps are restricted in size, so you can't make particularly large maps. But aside from lacking a conventional tool and size options, the level editor is robust, and let's the player explore the world of crayon physics in the same way that one could with a pencil and paper.
Footnote: Though the game includes a form of online play called Playground, which consists of up and downloading levels edited and rated by other Crayon Physicists, it's not integrated into the program yet.
Bottom Line: It's difficult to dislike a game that gives you so much play value, open-ended conflict solution, and creative distance while still maintaining a good focus. Although it isn't perfect for gamers looking for something a bit less casual.
Recommendation: Buy it. It's not very often you get a game's value back in the first five minutes of playing, though I suggest bringing your own soundtrack and creativity for the later hours of play.