Particulars: is bound together by the Tension Force - Games Weekly

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Particulars: is bound together by the Tension Force

When I first played a few levels of Particulars just prior to PAX in 2013 I though it was an exceptional game. At the time there was no plot to speak of and no real progression just a number of deliciously short and challenging puzzles in which the the charge of a particle was used to either attract or repel other particles to varying ends. Some levels required me to carefully lead a particle into a drop zone while others were geared towards elemental destruction, flinging opposite charged particles at each other to blow them up.


Those handful of levels had me hooked on the concept, but now I've finally had a chance to play the finished version it’s even more satisfying thanks to the inclusion of a story so intimately intertwined with the basic concepts of particle physics that having a narrative for a game predicated on variations of guiding a small ball around a screen seems like the most natural thing in the world. It’s a story or love, loss and science conspiracy, with a young, brilliant but antisocial scientist who has trouble forming relationships and dealing with people. It’s a game about attraction and repulsion, forming and breaking bonds.
a wonderfully odd, addictive and melancholy game with, dare we say it, an educational twist
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Although the game is playable with the keyboard, the best way to play Particulars is with a controller, which makes it easier to perform the precise movements required to solve many of the puzzles. Without going into too much actual particle physics detail, particles are roughly broken into two types those that are attracted and those that are repulsed. When attached to a weak force particle, the player can attract and form chains with other similarly charged particles. When two particles with opposite charges meet they are annihilated, leaving behind a small pick-up that grants the main particle a brief shield. The links between attached particles are weak, so to avoid breaking the links slow, steady movement is required. The press of a button can expel all attached particles, sending them flying across the screen. On paper it all sounds very complicated and in practise it’s quite tricky, but the guys at SeeThrough Studios have done a great job at explaining the nature of each puzzle and giving visual indicators of how the forces are interacting so it’s actually quite easy to pick up and play.

There are some problems with Particulars it’s all too easy to build up too much momentum and send your particle careening out of control, and sometimes it’s extremely difficult to keep track of your particle when the screen is full of other white blobs, but even so, SeeThrough Studios have created a wonderfully odd, addictive and melancholy game with, dare we say it, an educational twist.

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