Master of Alchemy HD for iPad Review
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Master of Alchemy HD for iPad Review

Our Review by Chris Kirby on August 31st, 2010
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: AN UNBALANCED EQUATION
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In Master of Alchemy, you can change water into gas, gas into solids, and vice versa, but can you turn a beautiful-looking game into something beyond the humdrum?

Developer: CHILLINGO
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Master of Alchemy HD for the iPad does a lot of things right. Graphically, it's impressive - not from the amount of pixels or polygons it pushes, but from the creative graphic design of the game. The game design is clever, if derivative, and the challenges are deep. Why is it, then, that the game seems only marginally entertaining?

The setting for Master of Alchemy HD is, of course, the Middle Ages, and you are an apprentice to a master alchemist. You get to choose your character and backstory at the beginning of the game, but this really doesn't impact the gameplay and seems more like window dressing than anything else. The character designs, however, are beautifully drawn and presented. Your chosen character's goal is to learn the secrets of transmuting solids into liquids, liquids into gases, gases into solids, and so on and so on. To accomplish this task, you are given several tools and the ability to place them pretty much anywhere on the screen. After a brief and effective tutorial, the game begins.

And this is the point where you figure out that Master of Alchemy HD is like any number of puzzle games that have come before it. You know the type: guide X creatures/items to Y location within a certain time limit. It's an old mechanic; at least as old as Lemmings. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but I was hoping for more than a simple retread of an old idea. Instead, Master of Alchemy is a puzzle game where, yes, you do transmute matter to an extent, but only in service of getting that matter to a predetermined goal point on the "map."

So, I return to the strong visuals, and especially strong audio, in the game. If you are already predisposed to like puzzle games of this type, you will no doubt be delighted with Master of Alchemy on your iPad, as it executes its puzzles quite well in a remarkable visual and auditory style. In fact, I would argue that it's one of the best-looking and sounding games in its class. If, however, you are looking for something new and different, something that takes its theme and really uses it to fuel an original concept, this is not the game for you. After all, you can't get blood from a stone, can you? Even the alchemists couldn't do that.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Master of Alchemy HD screenshot 1 Master of Alchemy HD screenshot 2 Master of Alchemy HD screenshot 3 Master of Alchemy HD screenshot 4 Master of Alchemy HD screenshot 5
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