If I got a dollar for every time I start a conversation with “I stumbled upon this on the internet today,” that would be a very good reminder to diversify my conversation starters.
Today I stumbled upon a horribly addictive game which kind-of has a scientific twist, but at the same time is not a very good tool for learning science. It is undeniably fun, though, and can get you thinking about chemistry, life, and logic.
It’s called Little Alchemy , and the gameplay is staggeringly simple – you combine two “elements” in order to create new things, which in turn allow for even more combinations. At the start all you have is air, water, fire, and earth. Combine fire and earth, and you get lava. Combine lava and water, and you get obsidian.
The logic of the combinations does not follow a linear path from simple to complex, for example, or from inorganic to organic. By messing around with the ingredients, I had a ‘plant’ way before I had ‘sun’, ‘oxygen’ or ‘life’, and I had a ‘garden’ before I had any ‘humans’. Applying ‘pressure’ to ‘coal’ does end up with ‘diamond’, but through other experiments I also managed to produce a ‘unicorn’, so there goes scientific credibility out the window.
Also, some combinations that you think should occur, don’t happen in the way you’d expect – rain and wind don’t combine into a storm or something like that. Meanwhile, you can get amusing surprises when you get frustrated and start trying to combine everything (you’ll never guess what ‘rock’ and ‘life’ produces).
As long as you don’t try to learn chemistry from this game, it’s excellent fun. If you have a few hours of your life to lose, it’s an entertaining way to flex both creativity and logic. Starting from four simple items you can build your way up to 480 combinations in total. I’ve currently unlocked 74, and I’m a little worried there will be no peace until I have all of them. This might be a very long night.
If you fall down the rabbit hole and start playing, do share your most unexpected combination in the comments! Pro tip: two of the same element can combine, too.