Crayon Physics Deluxe Review

Screenshot from Crayon Physics Deluxe
You can come up with some wacky solutions to the puzzles you come across

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Kloonigames
  • Publisher: Kloonigames
  • Release Date: 7 Jan 2009
  • Time played: 3 hours (INCOMPLETE)

What is it

Petri Purho used to work at Swedish developer Frozenbyte (most famous for the Trine series) but eventually struck out on his own and gained a reputation for rapidly developing experimental games since 2006. His work as an indie developer culminated in Crayon Physics which was nominated for a Seamus McNally Grand Prize from the Independent Games Festival (IGF) in December 2007 and won this category at the 2008 IGF Awards.

In Crayon Physics you're given several puzzles to solve which involve moving a ball towards a star. You achieve this by drawing objects on the screen that guide the ball towards its objective such as ramps, swinging arms, pulleys, etc. The rewards for each level (i.e. the stars) also act as the game's currency for unlocking more levels.

The original game was coded in 5 days and it wasn't until 2009 that the "deluxe" version was released which was built on a modified game engine that allowed for player drawings to be preserved instead of just turning them all into generic rectangles. Crayon Physics Deluxe also added a level editor.

Purho is now working with a small indie development team called Nolla Games. They're currently developing a roguelite action-adventure called Noita which was released on Steam as an Early Access title in September last year. The game has already received praise, receiving three nominations at the 2019 IGF and being nominated for "Best Technology" at the 20th Game Developers Choice Awards.

How I got it

I actually received a key for Crayon Physics Deluxe in July last year so I can only assume I got it from one of my generous friends I made on Whirlpool (most likely Mix-Master). So thanks again for donating the game!

While I'm not as big a fan of puzzle games as my wife, I do like to dabble with them every so often, especially when they are novel ones which try to do new things (in this case, allow you to draw the objects you're using to solve the puzzles).

I also wanted to give a go at more family friendly games to see if there were any that would appeal to my kids.

Screenshot from Crayon Physics Deluxe
The game comes with its own level editor so you can create your own puzzles and share them online

What I like:

Simple to pick-up gameplay

The basics of the game are pretty easy to pick up and the goal is always the same: you have to make a ball travel across a screen towards a star. However, each level will have different obstacles and terrain your ball has to navigate through, and all you have at your disposal is the ability to draw bridges, ropes, mallets and rocks. The first few levels in the game act as a sort of tutorial and the solutions are pretty simple, but it's not long before things start to get a bit trickier (more on that later).

Ability to be creative with your solutions

There are multiple ways that you can solve puzzles in this game, especially on the first few levels. The game also encourages you to be creative by awarding you extra stars on a level if you can achieve certain requirements (e.g. complete the level without giving the ball a nudge by clicking on it or complete the level by only drawing one object).

Chilled music

The game has a chilled soundtrack that fits the game's meditative style to a T thanks to the contributions of Alec Holowka, Stian Stark and Jarogniew Slotala.

Level editor

The game comes with a built-in level editor which means you can create your own levels to share with others. It also means any other owners of the game can create their own levels too which you can download, increasing the game's replay value.

Family friendly

No sex, no violence and no profanities means this game is family friendly.

Screenshot from Crayon Physics Deluxe
You'll require 120 stars to get to the centre island

What I dislike:

Lulls you into a false sense of competency

Unfortunately, since the first few levels of the game are quite easy to solve there are actually many ways to make it through. You're probably thinking that's a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. It's good since you can be as creative as you want but it also means if you happen to pick cheesy, brute force solutions to the puzzles, you're going to be ill prepared to take on the more difficult puzzles down the track. This leads to another problem...

Gated content

There are multiple islands you can visit in the game and each one has several puzzles. However, in order to access the islands you need a requisite number of stars to unlock them. Each time you complete one level you receive one star but acquiring only one star per level won't be enough if you want to gain access to the final island in the centre of the map (which requires 120 stars). In order to get extra stars, you need to be able to come up with more efficient solutions to the puzzles presented to you so if you either lack the patience or mental prowess to gain those extra stars, you're going to eventually get stuck.

No Steam Achievements or Trading Cards

The game doesn't have any Steam Achievements or Trading Cards, but considering it was released in 2009, it's understandable.

Score – 7/10 (Not Bad)

Crayon Physics Deluxe would've been quite the revolutionary game more than a decade ago and it still holds up now as a fun, family-friendly, physics-based puzzle game where you're able to draw the objects that you use to solve each level. However, if you're either a novice at puzzle games or you're thinking of introducing the game to your kids, you may want to reconsider, since the game becomes difficult within a relatively short period of time and since the content is gated, it means you're locked out of trying any more puzzles… unless you download some fan-made creations, of course!

Is the game worth $28.95 AUD?: No, but only because due to the gated content this means if you're not good at puzzle games, you could easily find only a couple of hours of gameplay for about $30. If you're a novice at puzzle games or want something for the kids to play around with, you're probably better off waiting for this to go on sale. However, if you're really into these kinds of games, then the asking price is worth it, especially when you consider the fact you're able to download creations from other players as well as create your own.

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[ LINK: Crayon Physics Deluxe Official Webpage ]