Friday, July 22, 2005


Title: Enigma
Author: Daniel Heck
License: GNU General Public License

Way back in 1992, I fell in love with a game called oxyd. It had a captivating combination of logic and careful mouse movements. It was original, and the physics model was so believable. And for what it is worth, oxyd had the best sound for a game using only the PC speaker. The black marble follows your mouse movements through each landscape (aka level). The goal of each landscape is to match up the similarly colored oxyd stones. The color of a oxyd stone is revealed when touched by the marble or a laser. The fun part of each landscape is figuring out how to gain access to the oxyd stones. There are a vast array of special stones to push around and items to pick up and use. Over the next couple of years, several add-on packs and new versions were released to keep us oxyd freaks happy.

Now fast forward to a few years ago. Another oxyd fan, Daniel Heck, decided to make a very faithful recreation of oxyd, called enigma. This game is the topic of this week's entry. Daniel and a small team of other oxyd fanatics have created something wonderful in enigma. If you have played oxyd in the past, you probably stopped reading this already and download enigma. If you haven't played oxyd, you owe it to yourself to play this one.

Enigma comes with 742 landscapes. There are 14 tutorial levels, 368 levels which are new to enigma, 120 which are based on oxyd landscapes, 91 are based on an older game called esprit, and 149 are based on sokoban levels. The quality of landscapes varies greatly. Here is where enigma falls down a little. Many of landscapes do not require any logic, just careful, insanely careful in some cases, mouse control. There are however some gems in here, and you have access to all the levels. So, when I realize that a landscape is a twitch mouse level, I just move on. I think someone could do a real service by going through the enigma landscapes and picking out the 100 or 150 best for us logic fans.

If you still have any of the old oxyd games, enigma can read their data files and allow you to play these old landscapes. It is not perfect, but 80 to 90 percent of the landscapes are playable. This adds another 500 or so landscape to conquer. I have enjoyed replaying these landscapes more than the ones that come enigma itself. The level design is better.

If after downloading enigma and solving those landscapes which fit your personality, you still want more, here are a few links for you. There is a good level edit for enigma available here. There an abandonware version of the first oxyd game here. It runs fine under Windows XP. Although the sound is not as good as I remember. Lastly, there is a commercial effort to write Oxyd 2.0. It is in beta testing right now. I will keep you informed.


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