The Longest Journey
Low-Spoiler Guide to Physicus
Welcome to my Physicus hints page. (-: If you're new to this series of low-spoiler computer game walkthroughs, the idea behind them is to point gamers
towards things they might not have tried in each game rather than giving step-by-step instructions or divulging puzzle solutions. There's not much
point in playing a puzzle game if you know the solutions in advance, after all. So these pages are as close to spoiler-free as possible while still providing
some valuable Physicus hints and tips. If you are looking for
the solution to a particular puzzle, I recommend the UHS site--due to the way their pages are
set up you can only see one hint at a time, so you can get the answer to one pesky puzzle without ruining all the others for yourself. My site, meanwhile,
focuses on exactly the things UHS and other traditional walkthroughs don't: the non-critical parts of the game, extra details you might miss, and,
most pertinantly for Physicus in particular, extra annoyances that can be eliminated to get the maximum enjoyment out of the game. If you want even
fewer spoilers--you're considering whether or not to buy the game, for example--please try my
Physicus Review page to find all the pertinant information in one convenient spoiler-free package.
Now, on with the game!
Physicus Hints and Tips
The Non-Boring Physicus Walkthrough
Physicus Cheats and Links
The Backseat Game Designer: Physicus Critique
In terms of its game mechanics, Physicus (spelled "Physikus" in its original German release) is an entirely standard Myst clone. If you've ever played Myst or
any of its sequels, or if you've ever played any first-person puzzle adventure game in the past ten years, you'll already be completely familiar with
this interface and could probably play it in your sleep. If you haven't, though, and you just happened to buy this game because of its educational merits or
your own love of science, then you may need a few gameplay hints to help you get started. And even if you're a Myst virtuoso, Physicus does have a few quirks
all its own that it would have been nice to know about beforehand. So here, without any spoilers, are my suggestions for getting the most out of Physicus:
Movement: The movement controls in Physicus are very inconsistent and often unintuitive--sometimes it is hard to see an exit to your
left, right, or beneath you, because the cursor does not shift to show that you can go that way unless it is resting in the precisely correct location (which is not
always to the far margin of the screen where you'd expect it). Worse, it isn't always possible to exit a screen in a direction you should be able to. At one point you
may wish to turn down a path to the left, but be unable to until you have stepped forward, turned around, and stepped back, thus allowing you to take a right turn
onto the path you wanted in the first place. This can get very aggravating, especially since you will need to wander back and forth across the same scenery several
times--since the game is so linear, you can't do anything in most of the areas until you have solved a puzzle in the area intended to be next in the sequence.
If you like, I have written a walkthrough for Physicus which, while still not spoiling any of the
puzzles, informs you which is the proper location to explore next. This can cut back on some of the frustrated pixel-hunting for nonexistent exits you
think you might not have noticed yet.
Inventory: Unlike many Mystlike games, Physicus allows you to pick up items to carry with you and use in a different location.
For some unintelligible reason this maneuver is very awkward, playing a slow and pointless video animation each time you pick up or put down an object
and requiring you to cycle through your inventory, click, and drag the object to the place you'd like to use it. It's an unusual system but not too hard to
get used to. More important, though, is how you can activate this routine on-screen. When you move your cursor over an
object you can put into inventory, a little green line will appear. The manual calls this a "scanner," confusingly, but it really means you can pick the object up,
When you move your cursor over a location where an inventory object can be used, a little red line will appear, and that is the place you will need to click and
drag your inventory item to. If you miss the location, it simply won't work and you'll have to try again. So pay close attention to the area marked by the red line.
Inventory will never get very full, every object you can pick up is potentially useful in one and only one location, and there are no carrying capacity issues.
Interface: Your only method of interacting with the gameworld is by clicking on it. Sometimes the game will alert you to the possibility of clicking
on something by changing the cursor to a "hand" icon, but other times you'll just have to use trial and error. On some occasions you will need to click
something and then pull it in the appropriate direction, but this is usually intuitive (pulling a lever down or dragging something to one side).
Savegames: Physicus has the odd and very annoying feature of not allowing you to exit the game until you have
first saved. I kept an extra file named "quit" so that I could save to that name whenever I wanted to quit without saving. It turned out, though, that
this maneuver was unnecessary--it's impossible to make a permanent mistake in this game and there are no alternate paths you can take, so you really
do not need more than one backup savegame in case of disaster, and there's never actually any need to quit without saving.
Time Management: Time does not pass in Physicus, and you can take as long as you like exploring any part of it you choose.
Problem Spots: Physicus is about as close to a problem-free game as it's possible to get. There are no dead ends, no corners you can inadvertantly paint
yourself into, and no way to lose the game. I encountered no bugs at all. There is one puzzle with a very slight realtime element (a lock with rotating images on it), but the time allotted is
very generous and you can try the puzzle as many times as you like without negative consequences. There is no captioning and one clue is auditory in nature,
but neither the voiceovers nor that clue is really necessary to solve the game. The only potential sticking point I can imagine is that several of the puzzles rely on math.
If you can't do multiplication and division in your head, you'd be well-advised to keep a calculator handy.
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