Adventure Game Reviews
Computer Games for Kids
The Non-Boring Physicus Walkthrough
Physicus is one of the most linear games I ever played. There are no optional actions that can be taken (unless you count puzzles that aren't
technically necessary to solve because it's possible to guess their solutions through trial and error; this did happen to me once when
I played). Unlike the Myst
series that inspired it, there are no interesting details to be noticed. There certainly aren't multiple ways to solve any
of the puzzles, and there's not much of a plot. There's no chance at all, basically, of your missing anything in this game. If you finish it, you'll have
seen everything. So Physicus is not a game in need of my "travel guide" series of low-spoiler walkthroughs (which focus mostly on broadening
players' enjoyment of games by pointing them towards interesting things they might not have thought of doing themselves).
But there's another kind of walkthrough that might be of great use to you, especially if you're playing with your kids. Physicus is so linear
that, with only two minor exceptions, you must solve all the puzzles in the game in the exact same order. If you don't solve the puzzle in area A,
you will be unable to solve any of the puzzles in areas B, C, D, or E. This can be very frustrating as you repeatedly travel back and forth between
all five puzzles trying to figure out which is the one you're supposed to solve next and which are the four that will be unsolveable till a later point in time!
There are also a few useless locations and red herrings, though not very many compared to other graphic adventure games.
Anyway, it's my opinion that games shouldn't waste their players' limited time doing things like walking back and forth over and over again,
performing useless tasks, trying to read the game designer's mind and guess which puzzle to attempt next, and waiting for something to happen.
In the final count we all play games for escapism, not realism; I can wait in line at my own grocery store, and have less than no desire
to simulate the experience in a game. So here's my Non-Boring Guide to Physicus, in which I tell you exactly where all the interesting parts
of this game are and in which order to do them to maintain the highest fun-to-tedium ratio. There are no puzzle spoilers in this walkthrough.
I tell you where the puzzles are and whether it's possible to solve them yet, but not how to go about it. If you're looking for the solution to a particular
Physicus puzzle, I recommend the excellent UHS site--you
can only see one hint at a time there, so you can get the answer to one puzzle without ruining all the others for yourself. My walkthrough, bare-boned
by design, is meant to help lead you past those sticking points that are the fault of the interface, bad writing in the game, or just your own uncertainty
about what you're supposed to be doing next. Feel free to print it out and use it to help lend some added direction to your travels through Physicus.
If you want even fewer spoilers--you're considering whether or not to buy the game, for example, and
just want to know whether there's anything you're going to hate in it--please try my
Physicus Review page
to find all the pertinent information in one convenient spoiler-free package.
The Non-Boring Physicus Walkthrough
General Gameplay Tips: Don't worry about making a mistake or using any machine incorrectly. All puzzles in this game can be
repeated as many times as you like until you get the right answer, even those that may seem at first blush to have permanent effects. Every time an
object cannot be picked back up, it means you will never need it again. There is no way to lose this game (besides quitting). In fact, you needn't
even bother with multiple savegames: one backup savegame to guard against technical difficulties or something is plenty. You can't paint yourself
into any corners, and if you don't follow this walkthrough exactly, the worst that will ever happen to you is you will waste some time.
1) Watch the intro. It doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense, to be honest with you, and it doesn't matter much. All you need to take away is "planet
in danger, must activate science-fiction machine to save planet!" The plot will not affect the course of the game more than this; there
is nothing you need to remember.
2) Go into the first house you see. You won't be able to go anywhere else till you're done in here anyway. There are no puzzles, but you need to
pick up the laptop (which incidentally doubles as a very nice interactive study aid for anyone taking a physics or general science class) and listen
to a message on the recorder. Nothing else in this room can be activated (the odd TV-looking device, for instance, is just decorative).
3) Go down the path leading away from the house. It will take a few clicks, but you'll reach a pair of houses (just before going under a stone arch, to
your left). There's a butterfly in this area that you can touch. This doesn't affect anything and I suppose it must be meant as a tip of the hat to
though I'm left scratching my head over why butterflies are flitting about in a climate that is now too hot for human habitation. No matter really.
The first building has a big machine in it and an upstairs level with a furnace. You can get this machine working right now using nothing
but your physics know-how and your common sense, but you won't be able to use it to make anything until later (the little red line that flickers over
the top part of the furnace shows you that there's an object or objects you're going to need to place there before anything else can happen;
this is true throughout the game). There is also one object in this building that you can put into your inventory to use later.
4) In the second house just nearby, there is an important clue and two objects you can put in your inventory, but no puzzles to solve. You can open
and close the trash can, but it doesn't affect anything and there's nothing inside. The pot left boiling on the stove is purely decorative (in real
life, of course, the water would have long since boiled off, unless the evacuation happened within the past few hours.)
5) Passing through the stone arch and continuing on the path, you will pass two areas where you cannot do anything yet: a control panel
by a landing pad, and a locked house. Examine both for clues (don't neglect to go behind the house), but you won't be able to solve anything yet.
There's also a wooden pathway between the control panel and the house that you can't travel on yet. If you look carefully you'll see
that this is because the drawbridge is up. You can't pass that way until you lower the drawbridge. There is only one possible way you can proceed
from here, and that's across the rope bridge.
6) The sun face on the bridge pops open, but what is inside is not a puzzle. It is actually a rather obtuse clue to a much later puzzle.
You don't need to do anything with it. Just cross the bridge to the strange structure on the other side (it appears
to be a broken ship; tribute to Myst, perhaps?)
7) On the door to this shiplike structure is the first solveable puzzle of the game. Use a clue you've already found, an object you've already found, and
your physics knowledge to solve it and get the door to open.
8) Inside, there are two levels to explore. You will be able to explore both at this time, but you will need to go upstairs first because the downstairs
is too dark to explore (this happens several times in this game, if you can't do anything in a darkened room, always find a light source).
There are three objects for you to put into your inventory on the two levels combined.
You won't be able to focus the telescope well enough to see through it until later in the game.
9) Now you can return to the control panel and solve the puzzle there, using a new item and new information you'll have found. This will give you
access to the windmill area.
10) In the windmill area there are two houses. The first is locked and you need a key. The second contains one of the three generators you need to
win the game, but you can't turn it on yet. There's also a magnetically clamped door leading to the next important area, but it is powered by the generator,
which you can't turn on yet. Basically, your objective now is to get that door open, and you'll need to go back and forth between the two houses up here
and the locked house down below a few times and solve a few puzzles in order to make that happen (including using one of the machines you left for
later in one of the other locations). Don't worry about the settings on the generator at this point (the colors, shapes, how many coils you use for the
electromagnet, or whether the millstone is spinning or not). None of that is important till the endgame. All you can do at this time is get the door open.
11) Once you follow the path down from the door you will find yourself in a new area, a deserted town. You can now open the drawbridge, which saves
you a lot of travel time from now on (though it is not strictly necessary to do this). This is the most frustrating part of the game, because there are dozens
of new locations you can enter from here, but you must do them in the proper order and if you enter a location at the wrong time, it will be useless and
just waste your time. At first, you can cruise the town to
get your bearings, but will be unable to do anything except collect two objects (one from the alley, one from the lensmaker's shop) until
you go through the door with the big red button and use the machine on the other side.
12) Then you can solve a puzzle in the well.
13) Then you can use an object to get into the police station.
14) Then you can read two clues in the police station's office, pick up a useful item, and solve a puzzle to learn a code in the darkroom. (The locked
drawer on the desk and broken drawer on the desk are useless; you will never be able to do anything with them. There's an easter egg in the
police station that will show you mug shots of the programmers if you click on the black dot on the spine of one of the police files.) A partial spoiler for
the frustrated: it is the PICTURE doodled on the case file that you are trying to match to something in your laptop, not the "code" at the bottom
of the page, which is just a red herring intended to throw you off and annoy you.
15) Now you can enter the house with the locked door on the alley, pick up a useful item in there, and solve a puzzle inside the house to acquire another item. (The
cabinet door that partially opens to reveal an odd-looking contraption is useless, unfortunately; you cannot examine it more closely or manipulate it.)
There is a note on the desk with a little reference to the plot, the only one in the game as far as I can tell.
16) Now you can go back to use one of your new items on one of the machines you weren't able to do anything with earlier. This will give
you the last clue you need to open the code-locked gate on the other side of the town.
17) Once you open that gate you will reach a new area. There is a second generator there, but if you try pulling the lever you'll see that it is broken.
You'll be able to turn it on later--like the other two generators, its settings are not important till the endgame. There is a paper with a clue on it hidden
in this side of town. All the houses are locked but one. In fact, frustratingly, two of these houses will stay locked throughout the game (there is no key,
nor any other way into them; they are just distractions). A third house can't even be approached and you can't click on the door, it's purely decorative.
18) So go into the one house which is unlocked, and solve the puzzle there. Be careful with that one--you can tell it's solved properly when the sun
design has turned but the marbles are still in position. If the sun design didn't turn, the marbles aren't in the right place. If it turned but you pressed the
button and the marbles rolled back to you, you'll have to do it again. When it's done properly, one of the other houses will unlock.
19) Go into the newly unlocked house to find an item you can pick up.
20) Now you can go back to an old area and solve a puzzle you weren't able to before and get another item.
21) Now you can finally solve the puzzle in the submarine-looking device by the beach and turn that generator on. (Like the other two generators,
its settings are not important till the endgame.) You can also get a new item here, which you can use to...
22) ...turn on the generator by the water-wheel. All right! Now all three are turned on.
23) Go up to the observatory. (You should have the passcode already... don't get flustered by the comma, this is a German game and commas are used
the way decimal points are in English, so the first few digits of pi, for example, would be written 3,14159 in German.)
Walking around the observatory room, you can see a map with some electronic notations on it pinned to the wall. That will give you
the rest of the information you need to solve the endgame puzzle. Look at the console, then look up to see the machine you are going to activate.
Now you have to solve the equation and
go back to the three working generators and set each of them to the proper voltage. (Which colors you assign to each generator is
actually irrelevant as long as you are consistent about it, the colors on the wall map are just a frustrating red herring.)
24) And now you've won the game! Congratulations. The planet-saving projectile launcher is rather implausible and the endgame movie is kind of weird
(the people are returning home on sailing ships? I thought they had to evacuate the entire planet?) But nonetheless, this has been an interesting game and
well worth the modest investment of time it takes to play. If you enjoyed this game and are looking for more of the same, you can try its sequel,
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