Although it’s a frustrating wreck of a game, SimplePhysics is based on an interesting concept. Each level presents you with a flimsy structure that’s put under harsh conditions that are certain to cause it to collapse. Your job is to draw support beams to keep the structure standing, despite the wind, snow, or gravity it needs to withstand. The catch is that you have a limited budget, so you can only draw a certain number of beams.
In the first level you’re asked to brace the floor of a tree house so it can support the weight of four kids without breaking. After a little experimentation, you’ll probably find this puzzle pretty easy to solve, even if you’re unfamiliar with the fascinating world of building code. After that, however, the game falls apart like the shoddy construct it is.
Hope you have insurance.
The first problem is that the tutorial does nothing at all to teach you which beam formations are effective to keep a structure from collapsing. Take the second level, for instance. You have to keep an arched roof from giving way under heavy snowfall. Since we’ve never built anything more complicated than a sandwich in real life, we randomly doodled in some vertical supports and crossbeams, and then pressed the play button. A few seconds after the snow started piling up, the roof collapsed.
So we flipped to the “pressure view,” which shows what beams are bearing the most weight and are likely to collapse first. Once we found out, we added extra reinforcement to that area and pressed play again. Once again, the roof buckled. When we tried to add even more beams, we went over budget. So we scrapped everything and started over, this time drawing a completely different set of beams. Again, when the snow started falling, the roof caved in.
A storm’s a-coming.
After trying vastly different approaches for the next 15 minutes, with no success and– more importantly– receiving no hints suggesting how a person might design support beams for a roof, we gave up and tried the two other levels. Still no luck: The Ferris wheel and the windy building proved just as fragile.
To be clear, we have no problem with difficult games. Overcoming challenge is what makes games worth playing. But there are two distinct kinds of challenge. There’s the fun kind, which is designed to make you learn from your mistakes, and encourages you to apply that knowledge the next time you play. And then there’s the frustrating kind, which feels like a slap in the face. SimplePhysics offers the face-slapping kind. Making matters worse, the game’s physics engine seems quirky at best.
SimplePhysics could be vastly improved if they added a hint system or a proper tutorial or– better yet– a big batch of new levels that guide players through the process of building sound structures. But with nothing of the sort, and with a severe shortage of levels (really, guys, you could only come up with four?), the best thing you can do about SimplePhysics is to stay far away from it.