Take this review with a GRAIN OF SALT, and please READ AT LEAST the TL;DR at the bottom or watch the full video to understand the problems of Particulars.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE4GXdja_AM
So let us take Particulars apart and thus delve into the subatomic world of quarks, bosons and the like. As always, I’ll talk about the aesthetics
first, which are particularly brilliant. Especially noteworthy is the minimalistic interface. Every particle has its own icon and shading, the goal and timing of a level are indicated in the central area with a circular bar and while all of this might need a couple of minutes of getting used to, it looks amazing. I cannot say the same for the art of the cutscenes however, as I feel this drawn comic style is out of place in an environment of minimalistic vector aesthetics.
The overall sound design
is very good as well. There is a crackling indicator when you are getting too close to a particle than would annihilate you and in general every sound effect is unique and very recognisable in terms of its effect. Overall, the creative choices blend very well to create a surreal subatomic world, excluding the cutscenes.
As for the gameplay
, I feel I need to fragment this review into two parts, just as I felt game significantly alters in its gameplay after the fifth chapter. The first part
of the game is mostly about carrying particles from A to B, destroying other particles or plainly surviving for a set period of time. This feels a lot like an action arcade game with barely any puzzling involved. In the majority of the levels, speed is of the essence, which led to a bunch of frustration for me. Controlling fast paced particles into their target area, with other anti-particles flying about the place, which obviously are also attracted to their counterpart and kill it instantly on contact, felt like I had little chance of actually impacting the outcome. Thus many levels, even after completion, seemed as if I relied heavily on random chance instead of personal skill and overall Particulars feels rather unrewarding. This critique almost ended up being a pure ranting on fast paced twitch-heavy gameplay with a sluggish player particle. Luckily most of the game’s levels are skippable, however for some reason excluding the last level of each chapter.
Once you completed chapter five, you’ll delve into what feels like a completely different game with the same skin on top. Your particle now receives the ability to change
, essentially switching the family and spewing out a W with the respective charge of the originating particle. Sounds complicated? Well, I do consider my physics knowledge to be as weak as a biochemist’s knowledge about physics can be, which is essentially non-existent and suffice to say, I have a really hard time understanding what is going on. Particulars tries to remedy the complication a bit by providing a pause menu, which gives you all details about subatomic particle transformation. After working through this encyclopaedia for a couple of times, you can get at least a slight grasp of what is going on. Nonetheless, compared to the action oriented gameplay beforehand, the game now plays essentially like a puzzle game, that requires you to think something through first and afterwards additionally asks you to execute the presumed solution in a rather complicated environment, meaning that even if you understand what you are supposed to be doing, it is not given that you will succeed in the first, second or even third try. Therein lies my main gripe with Particulars. As mentioned previously, I either like playing fast-paced platformers with a very tight control scheme along the lines of Super Meat Boy or Spelunky or very deep, mechanical puzzle games like SpaceChem. Particulars tries to mix the action, twitch-paced gameplay with a bunch of thinking and while the subatomic puzzling is difficult and satisfying when understood, working towards the solution can be frustrating, especially if you know exactly what to do, but fail to execute it properly. In terms of controls, I found the keyboard controls to be okay, however due to the only eight directional digital movement, some levels are harder than they need to be. Therefore I recommend a controller for playing, which however also has the downside that when inspecting particles in the pause menu, using the right analog stick to move around is painfully slow.TL;DR
My conclusion of Particulars is, that this game is just not for me, even as a scientist. While the physics in Particulars seem solid and you can surely learn more than a thing or two during the gaming experience, I personally do not like the combination of fast-paced, sluggish movements with puzzling as I get frustrated when I figured out the solution but fail to execute it. Similarly to my earlier critique of Luna’s Wandering Stars, games like these are just not for me. If you are amongst the people to enjoy these kinds of games however, you should definitely check Particulars out, as it is a very insightful exploratory experience into the world of subatomic particles.