Version Reviewed: 126.96.36.199
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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Principia is definitely not a “casual play” game for those looking for a quick fun fix. Rather, it is a challenging and fulfilling experience that requires the player to play the roll of engineer/creator to solve puzzles and build various devices and contraptions.
Principia begins by offering the player three options: Play, Discover, or Create. Choosing the Play option allows them to either complete an introductory level (highly recommended for new players) or dive into the game’s main puzzles (which are divided into more than 30 levels). Each puzzle challenges the player to move a robot around the playing area and accomplish some sort of task (or tasks). The player has the ability to move certain objects around on the screen to help accomplish the task but what sets Principia apart from many other building games is the complexity of the objects that can be manipulated, including mechanical, electrical, and robotic objects.
The second gaming option - Discover - connects the user with the Principia web site, where a large and growing collection of user-created machines, custom levels, and adventures may be downloaded and played with. Users may even upload their own creations to the community website for others to use and explore. The third option - Create - opens up a sandbox editor in which players can create and build to their heart’s content using a collection of more than 190 unique objects. Players are able to build a wide range of creations, from simple mechanical machines to advanced electronic devices.
Fans of other contraption-building games will quickly work through the included levels, and this is a great way to become familiar with many of the objects and tools in the Principia toolbox. The game really shines, however, when players begin exploring the large number of user-created objects and challenges or start building their own devices and puzzles. The replay value of this game is huge and will only get bigger as more players contribute to the community website.
Another great feature of the community website is the building contest. These contests give players a scenario and then challenge them to let their imaginations run free by creating a level or a contraption that fits within the scenario. Entries are judged and prizes are given to the best ones. The only knock against Principia is the steep learning curve when getting started with the game. A more thorough tutorial would certainly help players get up to speed with the objects and controls a lot faster.
In spite of the steep learning curve, players who enjoy tinkering and exploring will pick up on the objects and controls with a bit of practice and patience. In the end, Principia is a creatively challenging game that provides a great deal of satisfaction for a job well done!