Forget “In the beginning of there was the word...”: the makers of Alchemy Classic HD know that in point of fact in the beginning there were four basic building blocks from which all living organisms, mineral compounds, meteorologic elements, etc. were formed.
If you enjoy puzzle and logic games of a special kind be sure to read on for our review of Alchemy Classic HD, an Android game that is rapidly become a crowd favourite thanks to its unusual gameplay.
Features & Use
Tested on: Samsung Galaxy Tab
The app is just over 20 MB; depending on your bandwith it will take up to a few minutes to install.
Earth, Wind & Fire may be a musical sensation, but earth, wind, fire and water are, in fact, the building blocks of the Alchemy Classic HD world.
When you first start out you may want to check out the in-game instructions (the English language version of which is riddled with grammar errors), although I must admit that even though I read through them (twice), I found the only way to “get” the game was to start playing.
The objective is to create new elements by combining at least two of the already existing ones. You start off with the basics (i.e. earth, wind, fire and water, as mentioned) which you combine (for instance, Air + Fire = Lightning) and pretty soon you'll find that you've amassed a good amount of slightly more complex basics. By continuously combining elements successfully you effectively create your own little world or nature palette that includes metals, chemicals, living organisms (starting with amino acids, then come bacteria, viruses, fungi, and so on) and eventually even buildings, means of transportation, human inventions (ranging from Dutch clogs to musical instruments), etc. There are a number of groups of elements which expand as you create the elements needed to create further elements.
As for figuring out which elements to combine in order to create new ones:
Some of the combos are both simple and logical (e.g. Metal + Water = Rust), others make sense intuitively (for instance, I had a feeling that creating Cells would require a double portion of something already living; after unsuccessfully trying to combine two strands of amino acids, the building blocks of all living things, I tried two strands of Bacteria, which proved to be the correct combo).
Other combos, however, are somewhat unexpected, but it's all good fun, and for the most part the composition of elements is more or less true to how things really work in nature, so there's somewhat of an educational edge to this game.
I made good use of the “i” symbol located in the top bar. By pressing this symbol a table shows all of the elements that haven't yet been created but can be created by using what you already have. The hints don't automatically tell you what to do (i.e. a hint will look something like this: Fern = ? + ?), but they do tell you how many elements are needed to create a new one. This same information is also shown when you click on any of the elements in the inventory table on the left of the display.
By clicking on the elemental equation you can use the points you've made so far by successfully making new elements to either uncover the exact elements needed, or to discover which groups the required elements belong to. Exact element info costs 100 points and group info costs 35 points.
Alchemy Classic HD is a very unusual puzzle game, and according to the reports I've heard it gets most gamers hooked within minutes. Also, its fans span a wide range of ages. One of my colleagues tells me her 11 and 16 year old sons enjoy playing the game just as much as she does. Furthermore, she tells me she most enjoys playing when she's hanging out at home rather than when she's got a few minutes here and there, waiting for a bus for instance—it's that addictive!
Screen & Controls
While the Alchemy Classic HD text windows are not exactly design-eye-candy, the element symbols are nicely done and the overall look is fun.
Controls are good overall, though I found that the selected elements on the right hand side of the display could also be shifted beneath the inventory area located on the left. This only happened at the very beginning of my test run when I was still figuring out how to play the game, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless so that you can try and avoid the same hiccup.
Speed & Stability
No complaints in this department: Alchemy Classic HD runs smoothly and doesn't lag when new elements are created.
Alchemy Classic HD is free and available from Google Play. A small ad banner is displayed at the bottom of the screen which was not a bother in the least (we tested on the Samsung Galaxy Tab).
There are numerous options for unlocking additional elements, all of which are explained in-game.
Samsung Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note users take note: the Alchemy devs have teamed up with Samsung and are offering a special summer bonus (still valid) allowing Samsung device users to download the full version with all available elements for free from Samsung apps.