Gadgeteer a fun physics puzzle game that lets your brain wander as you create solutions without the hassle of packing away all those loose pieces.
The act of knocking down a chain of dominos as a child was always fun and highly satisfying. So when I first saw Gadgeteer, a new physics puzzle game on the Oculus Quest, all those old memories came flooding back. Watching your carefully crafted creations (known as machines) topple within the virtual world, seeing each tile fall over and trigger the next is just as satisfying as it was when I was a child.
The aim of Gadgeteer is to complete a series of 60 puzzles that are placed around a series of apartment rooms that are full of random furniture and static objects. Daisy-chaining between each puzzle is a wire cable that lights up to confirm when each puzzle has been completed. Solving each puzzle in each of the rooms will powers up an elusive central contraption that connects each room of puzzles. Simply light everything up and you complete the game.
Each puzzle consists of creating a sequence of chained reaction events using the various objects given to you to get from one active switch to another. You first start out with a simple domino tile puzzle, where you place down some additional domino tiles to complete a tile toppling sequence. Once you press the start switch, a little rod pokes out from it that hits the first tile and begins toppling journey until the very last tile knocks into the end switch and completes the puzzle – very satisfying.
This is a simple puzzle to start off with, however as you journey through the 60 puzzles that lay around the apartment, each puzzle soon gets more complex. Each puzzle involves you climbing up and down stacks of books, shelves and other static objects with your toppling tiles. You also soon uncover new unique pieces for your toolset that you can use to help construct your machine to complete each puzzle.
Being physics-based, your journey through each puzzle can be completed in a variety of ways. There are no right or wrongs here. Basically, if an object can’t fall or interact with another object in your creation, it simply won’t complete the puzzle. You have to think about gravity, spacing, trigger points and also timing in each of your creations. This leads to a lot of trial and error, as you test out ways to get from A to B, assessing what objects you have available to reach the end switch. Some puzzles can take a minute or two to set up, whilst more elaborate puzzles can require a lot of time and many pieces to set up.
I like how this game’s world has been created. Having to arrange my pieces around normal everyday objects, such as books, cardboard boxes, metal buckets and shelves, and even toilets, baths and window ledges; it reminds me a lot of playing in a Micro Machines world. Seeing and interacting with everyday objects gels very well with the game’s physics nature of its puzzles, which makes the onboarding of the game very subtle yet easy to understand exactly what you have to do.
Another highly intuitive feature of the game is its creating tools. In each hand, you have everything you need to interact, place and move objects within the world to solve each puzzle. On the right hand, you have a tool that can have its functionality altered by moving the right analogue stick up and selecting between the grab, clone and remove tools.
On the left hand, you have your toolbox of the many different objects to choose from in order to complete the puzzle. It feels very similar to an artist’s paint palette, as you select your piece, grab it with your right tool and place it into the world. Its developers have done a great job with this. It is highly intuitive and it feels very natural. Thanks to the great Touch controllers and tracking of the Oculus Quest, all your tiny hand movements are tracked very well, which are crucial when placing objects very precisely within the world. One millimetre out, and your dominos could fail to topple or your rolling balls could stop or fall out of your creations.
The game’s graphics look great on the Quest. You rarely acknowledge the world that’s around you, yet the apartment space and its objects all feel part of the world you’re in. This game could have easily been visualised in a very minimal and artistic way, but I do like how you’re playing within a real-world environment. I think it works well. It adds personality to the game and it helps gel together with the game’s physics system, with real-world looking objects carrying the kind of weights to them that you would expect, all before you begin to see them topple or fall.
The sound in the game, although minimal, sounds great too. There aren’t any overdone sounds here, and there are some nice affirming, yet subtle, navigation sound effects that help you easily understand what you are currently doing with the objects; be it picking up, placing, freezing or sticking each object within the world, everything has a reassuring sound to them.
Once you’ve completed each of the 60 challenging puzzles, you can play in the game’s own sandbox mode. In this mode, you have the entire apartment available to you, and it is down to you to create anything you like from any of the tools available in each of the puzzles you faced earlier. It’s a nice way to lengthen the game’s retention, however, I think a better way would be to allow players to build and share puzzles with other players online.
Gadgeteer costs £10.99 from the Oculus Store, and you get a lot for your money. With its many puzzles to solve, you can spend many hours in the game whilst creating the various machines needed to complete each one. When I first saw this game, I honestly didn’t expect to have as much fun in this game as I have done. The nature of each physics puzzle in Gadgeteer feels like you are playing about in the real-world, all without the hassle of packing away the loose pieces or accidentally toppling the whole thing over before you’ve finished. If you’re looking for a puzzle game to get your teeth (as well as your brain) into, that also requires a sense of crafting to complete them, Gadgeteer comes thoroughly recommended.