Explore the worlds of Californium, a first person exploration game where you are a writer trapped into shifting realities. Will you find what’s behind the simulacra ?
User reviews:
Mostly Positive (84 reviews) - 70% of the 84 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 17, 2016

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“This is a smart, gorgeously presented game, novel and peculiar.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

“An ode to Philip K.Dick and to the science fiction genre.”

About This Game

Explore the worlds of Californium, a first person exploration game where you are a writer trapped into shifting realities. Will you find what’s behind the simulacra ?

Berkeley, 1967. You are Elvin Green, a writer whose career is not better than his sentimental life. Besides, the day starts badly : your wife Thea left you a break up letter. As for Eddy, your editor, he summons you : "you are a writer who does not write" - you should find yourself another editor. Your world is falling apart. Too much acid and cheap booze ? Too many sleepless nights stuck to your typewriter, powerless to tackle your first novel ? Your poor mental health is collapsing. Luckily this nightmarish world is unstable, you can extract yourself from it and thus access another reality! You have nothing to lose!

System Requirements

Mac OS X
    • OS: Windows 7 or Higher
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 2.00 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DX9 (shader model 2.0)
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • OS: 10.8
    • Processor: Intel Core i3
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon 2400 or higher / NVIDIA 8600M or higher
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated Sept. 2016! Learn more
Mostly Positive (84 reviews)
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 8
Do you know most of PKDick's (A profanity filter censoring his name? How fitting.) work and some of his own biography? Play this.
Otherwise, you'll find yourself in a very strange world that is a collage of several of the worlds/drugs/chracacters from his books with no context. It's still very pretty and the story is still compelling, but you might end up dismissing it as just "weird".
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
105 of 136 people (77%) found this review helpful
11 people found this review funny
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
17 February 2016 - This game was released today, had no reviews, absolutely no information about it online, and was on a 10% sale, so I bought it on impulse, excited to get to something the world hadn't already gone made about.

First impressions: WHAT THE ****?

At first I am a writer, but then the illuminati begins to speak to me and it all goes down the rabbit hole.

A voice arrives and hints that this reality is not the only one. I find the anomilies of time and space, and steadily the world I know shifts into one I do not. The people are different, I am somebody else, and the story continues, reality flickering to remind me that there is more yet to change, more realities to see.

Do I have any idea what's going on? Not really, but I'm damn sure I'm creeped the hell out, weirded out, and enjoying every minute of it. This game is definitely worth a try and worth its price tag

EDIT: I just finished this game and damn... it's so simple yet it maintains the suspense right up to the end. I'm not even sure what the end WAS, even having achieved it, but I can definitely safely recommend this game. It's weird, it's unique, and those things together with excellent execution make for a damn good game!
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54 of 67 people (81%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
Californium is a weird game.
If this review is too long for you, I suggest you to only read the first paragraph about the game's content and the final verdict at the end.

What is happening in the game:
You are in Californium, where you are known as a writer, who doesn't really write a lot and has some issues with drugs and relations to his close ones. For some reason, the world you're located in is shifting between different realities. You have who and why is doing that, while exploring the world around you.

  • Visual Style | Is simply astonishing. The world is beautiful and it just looks perfect. You could just be making screenshots all the time and setting them as your desktop background. It's one of the most beautiful games this year so far for sure.
  • Game Mechanics | Are weird. I didn't quite understand what am I supposed to do at first, but I don't understand the game anyway. I mean, I kind of do, but not really. It's just a wonderful experience. You are on a hunt for theta-shaped symbols, which only appear when you look at them from certain angle or look away from them and then click them quickly. It's different. While doing that, you also walk around and talk to people.
  • Storyline | Is complicated. At first, you won't understand what's happening and that's fine. The whole thing kind of clears up as you proceed in the game, but it feels kind of surreal all the time. Since this is something I like, this game is certainly for me. If you prefer killing people and running around, go buy CS:GO.
  • Soundtrack | Is ... interesting? And it does good to my ears. It just fits the style of this game and, well, I liked listening to is.
  • Voice Acting | Is as good as it should be. Every word that is spoken in game is voice acted and it just gives the impression that the game is made by professionals.

  • Messed-up Controls | When I started the game, it visually instructed me to use WASD keys to walk. That didn't work. When opening up the settings, the default setup was the weirdest one ever. I don't quite remember what it was, but it was something like CHTD. Also, there is no controller support.
  • Stairs | This is a really minor problem, but still: if you walk up the stairs and stop before you get to the top, you will slowly slide down again. Weird.
  • Saving | This game really really doesn't save your progress often enough. Although I like playing games like this one, I find it difficult to play for one hour without a break and that's where I like to have my progress saved. So, when I closed the game hoping that it was saved, I had to start all over again. And that happened to me twice.
  • Performance Issues | This game is really demanding when it comes to system resources, which is weird, because other Unity games usually aren't that demanding. I'm afraid this may be a big problem for some players.
  • Linux Support | Well, there isn't one. Unity has native support for Linux, so I don't know why Californium doesn't support it. I know it still requires some work to make a Linux build, but it's not like it would need months of work.

The final verdict:
This is the definition of a strange game. That's because it's a game and it's freaking strange. Before buying it, please, please, do yourself a favour and watch a Youtube video or two about Californium. If you like this kind of atmosphere, you'll love it, but you really need to be into this kind of games. Otherwise, you might soon start hating it.
I recommend this game, I really do. But this game is not for everybody, so be cautious when buying it. The price is really good for a nice-looking game like this one so consider buying it.


Note that my copy of this game was obtained for free for reviewing purposes. However, this did not affect the quality and objectivity of this review.

No drama, Just Reviews.
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66 of 88 people (75%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 18
+ Nice 60-ish graphics
+ A lot of references to PKD work and bio

- Absolutely horrible idea for gameplay. It's hidden object, except instead of objects there are sigils, and they become visible only from certain points of the map. That is, you have to run around and wildly rotate your viewport.
I can't see how any amount of polish could save this concept.

I completed two sets of sigils, and stuck on finding last one in the cafe. Should I stand in this corner? No? Near this table? Try to stand by the door? Still nothing new? Step-by-step scan all walkable surfaces? Did I look in every direction?
What was I playing again? Oh, a psychedelic tribute to one of greatest sci-fi authors of 20th century. I completely forgot with all that DULL try-to-stand-everywhere gameplay (I don't think the word applies actually)

Old plain walking simulator would be way better, devs.
What a waste of great environments, effects and art.
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28 of 33 people (85%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
Interesting art style, beautiful graphics and a solid premise.

It is an atmospheric take on alternate realities as you play a writer in a sci-fi world. You explore beautiful levels and "solve" puzzles.

If you are someone who values art and design in a video game world I think you will like this too. My only complaint is that it doesn't save your progress within a chapter, so be careful when you exit.

Edit - Tired of getting stuck on something stupid because of this game's physics and having to restart an entire level I just spent 45 minutes on. Seriously? No way to save progress??

Edit - I can no longer recommend this game after experiencing too many game-breaking bugs and having to replay entire chapters each time. Do not buy this yet.
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14 of 16 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
The game takes inspiration from the incredible Philip K ♥♥♥♥. PKD fans will definitely find something interesting here.

The game is a little out there at times however this is personally something I look for and love in games. I like games that strive to be a little different, one reason I love indies so much. My playthrough took about 3.5 hours and the story moves along at a steady pace. The english voice acting is top notch and the visuals while simple really stand out with the great use of colours. The puzzles are simple in design and some take a little time to find, lucky for me the couple of times I was having troubles viewers were there to make suggestions.

I did run into a bug in the restuarant at the start of Chapter 2 and had to restart it, luckily for me we had a couple of devs in the twitch chat who explained the bug without us wasting to much time. The game has already had its 1st update which should have fixed this bug along with others.

This is a difficult game to recommend due to it being a little different. However fans of PKD or people that are into quirky games will likely get a kick out of it. I do suggest scanning the game on youtube / twitch to know what your getting into. I made a VOD fof my playthrough.

The game is definitely strange but I loved it.
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14 of 17 people (82%) found this review helpful
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
I'd say that I'm a little mixed on this one.

Obviously, I have a love of psychedelics. I love the Bay Area (live there), love the PDK inspiration, love the artstyle, love some of the sound(s) and love creativity & originality.

The reason I'm mixed is due to a little bugginess and honestly the game requiring a little too much patience on my part (I'm a pretty patient dude too). It almost feels at times like it is bordering along "ambient" gaming to solve the "puzzles". And by "puzzles" I mean the game relies heavily on one core mechanic: find the right spot for clicky, click, repeat. This becomes a bit tedious; even for a $10 game and not immersive. Which sucks because obviously this game has the right ingredients for being very immersive (or even only immersive without clicky click, aka Alien Isolation mod removing the Alien - aka spontaneous combustion exploration instead of clicky clicky) but the tedium of finding that one core mechanic puzzle to progress dampens the immersion & experience for me. This is where it becomes almost "ambient", the looping atmospheric effects and saying WTF is that little symbol to click, causing much retracing over an already limited (and by limited I mean small) map.

If you're in the right mood it could be hypnotic I suppose, but it can also be very, very grating. And by grating I mean it's like being stoned stuck in a loop trying to find that last nug you dropped somewhere over the course of a block, looking for that last clicky click, interdimensional pop in nug. And I don't know about you, but that isn't a place I like to be playing a game or in real life. But, alas, the characters in game usually have something to say. Which brings me to little details, voice acting is great and there are more than a few lines of interesting dialogue and good vibes, happy to see 2D sprite characters put to good use... but I also like the sound of a character's footsteps which is missing from this game - I'm not sure if it matters too much, I mean you slide down stairs which definitely makes sense in the more acidic parts, but seems missing in other areas.

Good effort though and would love to see more in this vein, tongue, nose, or GVG pipe with a little more magic, sugar & elf spice (err gameplay).
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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 10
This must be one of the strangest games I've played so far.

I didn't really understand what was going, I, um... You'll see once you play it for yourself, most things make zero sense.

But basically, from my impression, you play as a writer, you're addicted to drugs and suddenly you become able to travel through different dimensions or realities.

I mean there's not much more I want to say for spoiler reasons and it's just weird... the game is strange and I highly recommend you check it out.
This game is like a Prequel to Jazzpunk or something.

  • The art-style is great, really reminded me of Jazzpunk, it's a very beautiful game. I sure as hell took a lot of screenshots of the abstract-like world and the weird and cool looking characters you talk to.
  • The actual gameplay, the mechanics, what you do to progress in the game are pretty cool little puzzles. You're looking for symbols/marks around the world to progress, some are easy to find some are hard.
  • The voice acting.. oh my god the voice acting is amazing. All the voice actors are professional as hell at their job in my opinion, it helped so much with the vibe and atmosphere of the game. It was just amazing, great work. Bad voice acting in a game like this would probably destroy the game, so I'm happy that proper actors worked on this.
  • The story in the game is I mean, it's cool but you wont really understand the reasoning behind everything, you're kinda thrown into it all. It makes more and more sense as you progress, but yea it's strange, this game is strange. This game is the definition of strange.
  • The music in the game is great, it fits this sort of game, and I'm happy that there's a varied amount of music, not just the same 2 or 3 songs playing over and over driving you insane.

  • It was very demanding performance wise on my computer which was surprising to me. So if you have a weak computer be wary I guess.
  • The graphics options is not impressive, I hate when a game only has 1 over-all graphic slider, would be much better if we could change everything separately, maybe I want this type of AA or this type of texture quality etc...

I was pretty sure most of you are able to understand this but looking at the pathetic reviewers of this game I guess not, don't buy this if you don't understand what you're getting yourself into, if you don't already enjoy games like this then there's no point at all in buying it.
It's like walking simulators, you know, Dear Esther, Drizzlepath etc... you either love them or you hate them. There is no in-between with games like that, this game falls under that as well. If you hated Jazzpunk, Thirty Flights of Loving and games similar to that, then you will hate this as well.
If you loved them, however, you will most likely love this game as well.

But, if you can accept that, if you're new to this category and can accept the fact beforehand that you'll probably be disappointed but there's a chance you'll be amazed, there's a chance you'll love it and regret not getting into these weird games earlier, then give it a chance. The price is right on this game in my opinion but there's always sales as well, put it in your whishlist and maybe one day you'll want to try it.

8/10, absolutely great game for what it is.
A must buy for any Jazzpunk fan(and similar games).
Get ready to be weirded out.
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11 of 13 people (85%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
Bought the game solely because Philip K. ♥♥♥♥ was mentioned in the description and went in blind. Californium can be considered as a tribute to PKD's works -- A collection of weirdness familiar to readers of his books. In essence, Californium is a walking simulator where the sole gameplay element revolves around finding glitches in your reality: Items flickering in and out of existence, TV sets sending out secret, subversive messages only you can hear.

In ♥♥♥♥'s fiction, reality is always malleable, and such is the case also in Californium. Once you start peeling back the wool over your eyes, alternate realities begin to ooze into current ones. A sunny California baked in red turns into a grey, dystopian police state governed by the spirit of a long-gone president. Even you seem to change into a different person, but you still hear the omnipresent, self-aware narrator inside your head, and think the same thoughts you always did.

It doesn't stop there, though. The alternate realities keep on coming and the world gets progressively more out of joint. Californium is a very Dickian experience in the way that for most of the time, you have absolutely no idea what is going on. The game evokes paranoia and drug-induced delusion to the point where you cannot be certain about anything anymore.

In that way, the game probably nails a "true" PKD storyline better than any other game before it. I just wish the gameplay would be more interesting, because now the only thing you do is hunt for hotspots. Some of these are quite well hidden, and since you have to find them all to progress, frustration can occur if you get stuck. Diversity would have been more than welcome.

Aesthetically, Californium sits at a happy medium. People are represented as flat sprites in an otherwise 3D world; A decision that is probably budget-induced but which I actually found being a nice touch (it spares us from possibly cartoony 3D models). Some of the voice acting is definitely off, but isn't too distracting at the end of the day. I did also run into an unfortunate bug that forced me to replay an entire section, which is a shame.

Overall, Californium is a hard game to recommend, but after weighing all of the aspects of the game I'm going to do that anyway. It's a very short experience with annoying gameplay mechanics and a few technical difficulties, but it also stays true enough to PKD's work to be worth checking out if you have a chance. But I'm probably biased; After all, Ubik is my favorite book.
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15 of 21 people (71%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 20
Finally a new and fresh philosophical approach of digital art. Sure, it's not everybody s cup of tea! In my opinion, it covers the spirit of "Californication". The twisted story and monologues / narrations are just great. You have the possibility to manipulate reality. Don't expect amazing graphics and character design. Gameplay can be described as solving (sort of) environmental hidden object puzzles. There is no way to save your progress within a chapter. If you like the unconventional experience, I can just recommend this trip. ;-)
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Recently Posted
The Shark that Ate Esteban
4.9 hrs
Posted: October 28
This game is a literal acid trip. 420/10 recommend. But also hard to play with track pad. I love it I love it I love it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
0.3 hrs
Posted: October 24
Absolutly not obtimized for mac : even in low graphics the game is slow as hell...

Absolutly no clue of what you should do : I mean I'm stuck in this flat for 20min now and I still don't know what I have to do...

Absolutly no help : It's been 20min and nothing is here to help the player understand what he has to do. A twikling/flashing object or a voice guidance would be welcome but no, nothing at all...

Well I just quit the game with a huge disapointment...
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.7 hrs
Posted: October 22
the game is actualy good but because of the final chapter that was broken for me i never finished the game so i have to give it a negative for that but if you get the whole expirience its a good game i think..
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.1 hrs
Posted: September 27
A walking simulator with very cool graphics, good voice acting, funny dialogue. About 2 hours of gameplay, I wouldn't get it at full price, I got it very cheap.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.6 hrs
Posted: September 22
It was alright, nothing special. More of a bore to play, but the graphics and story were cool.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.7 hrs
Posted: September 9
Write patriotic novels about grizzly-riding Abe in the Glorious Californian Republic.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
9.6 hrs
Posted: September 6
It's a real shame that Steam doesn't have a 1-10 scale for rating games, instead of the current Pass/Fail system of recommendations. CALIFORNIUM has a lot going for it, and I enjoyed much of it, frankly. But, when you throw everything of the scales to see how it balances out, it tips to the negative - just barely, and sadly doesn't make the cut by my standards for game quality & enjoyment. 4/10

Artwork style - really nice - all the way from retro pieces to future bits
Game Mechanics - great twist on a Hidden Object type game (which I really like BTW)
Odd Background Music was interesting - and I'm a player who typically mutes BGM in options of most games, but this was nice and different.
PKD undercurrents, but a poor attempt.

Artwork messaging - so much of it comes across as tired, old, Soviet-era, anti-western propaganda to the max. This is supposed to be a game - give the blame politics a rest, already!
Overly difficult to get some objects to highlight (seemed more like it was measured in micrometers than millimeters)
Dialog with NPC dragged on and on and on... and well you get it. Oh, for the love of Mike, SPIT IT OUT! Be succinct!!!!!!
The MSRP price of $9.99 - is it worth $10, €9, £7.5, etc. Omigod NO.

Did you think the NPC's talked too much? That was NOTHING !!! The almost non-stop droning and blathering of the narrator throughout the game is inexcusable & unforgiveable!!! It added ZERO to game enjoyment; to game achievements; to Anything.

This game was included in a BundleStars package in JUN2016, so essentially I have very little invested in it other than my time. Cards would have been nice, but I did several run-throughs for the 100% achievements thing - ah the miracle of OCD ;-) Cheers All
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.0 hrs
Posted: September 3
7/10 - It's a little repetitive but still quite interesting. Would go on that trip again.

This is by far one of the trippiest games I've played in a long time. I guess you could consider it a mix between a walking simulator and exploration game. It's quite interesting to say the least. Honestly, I don't think there was a single moment during which I didn't wonder what in the world is going. You meet all sorts of strange people and everything around you becomes more and more surreal as you progress. It feels like you've been thrown into the head of someone who's given up on life and is drowning himself in alcohol and drugs and his mind is creating all these illusions or fantasies of a world that's better but no matter which world he creates it only gets worse and worse until he snaps back to reality and starts over again.

TL;DR - If you're looking for something that'll send you on a trip without actually taking drugs, this is it.

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Old Man Amerikaner
3.7 hrs
Posted: August 26
Another great example that games can be art. Great visuals and atmosphere. If you like games like Firewatch you will probably enjoy this.
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