Crayon Physics Deluxe

Finland

It’s safe to say that Stian managed to snag the real prize when it came to deciding which of the Finnish games was going to be reviewed by who. Naturally, a big game like Cities Skylines will be more exciting than the PC port of a small puzzle game for mobile, I won’t hold that against it. Still, even when judging Crayon Physics Deluxe by more appropriate standards, I’d still say it’s a game I struggle to recommend.

Doodlenauts

Crayon Physics Deluxe is a physics platformer based on drawing objects with your mouse or, preferably, a touchscreen device. It uses a Super Scribblenauts setup where you go from map to map, selecting various missions that eventually reward you with a star. Collecting enough of these stars then unlocks new maps, or rather islands, where even more levels can be completed.

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The central mechanic is that the player can draw anything and it comes to life. Or rather, players can draw any shape and it will just manifest. It’s not like Drawn to Life where you are invited to create your own tools to go adventuring with. At its most complex, drawing a tiny circle will prompt the game to create a bolt you can pin something else down with.

The mechanic is briefly entertaining, but doesn’t quite speak to the imagination or lend itself to a varied roster of puzzles. Most of the early worlds I could breeze through simply by drawing a straight line and then pushing the ball, which needs to touch a star to end the stage. The game does eventually spice up with more complex puzzles, but even towards the later islands I still found myself using the same solutions because the game’s only mechanic is so limited. Additionally, doodles tend to misbehave as you draw them, frequently turning out longer than intended or repositioning themselves against your will.

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And if it sounds like I am unfairly beating on a small and cute indie game, do keep in mind that this game goes for 18 euros. I like these kind of puzzle games where you work through increasingly hard levels, but 18 euros for a physics puzzle games you’ll beat in a handful of hours… that is stretching it. This is no Cut The Rope or Where’s My Water with a highly flexible, entertaining mechanic. Here you just draw lines.

Gameplay score: 3/10

Doodling to victory

The crayon art-style is one that the developer clearly had a lot of fun with. everything is presented with cute, thick lines of crayon and with the colorful background, it comes together nicely. Of course, the levels you’ll find yourself in already have obstacles in them, often the kind of stuff kids would draw like weird dinosaurs and castles. Still, just as many levels will just have some simple shapes and that’s it.

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A nice detail is that you can draw over the world map as you work through levels, customizing them to be unique to you. If you are skillful with the mouse or have some kind of tablet to draw on, then this can lend itself to some fun art projects. In fact, most of the posts on the Steam community are people sharing their screens. Great stuff.

Presentation score: 7/10

Verdict

Crayon Physics is the kind of game that sounds imaginative when hearing about it, only to reveal itself to be rather shallow and poorly thought-out when you start playing. The core mechanic of drawing stuff to solve puzzles is not fun and for that fatal flaw alone I am withholding our usual scoring. A fun art-style is cute and all, but I am not going to give an average score to a game I found utterly boring just because of that.

Give either Drawn to Life or Scribblenauts Unlimited a shot instead.

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