Reality check: Middle school was an uphill climb especially when it came to the life sciences and basics of chemistry. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed the books about plants and animals, but that came much later on, right after the study of cells, which is essentially Biology 101. It’s something you HAD to go through to move on to the more interesting stuff.
Fast forward: more than 20 years later, Cellcraft is born. It’s one of the more complex flash based games I’ve seen that really takes you through the first few chapters of your Life Science book, explaining what cells are, how they function and what their purpose is in the whole scheme of things.
The Excitement: Finally, a game that could actually help explain the main differences between mitochondria, proteins, fatty acids, adenosine triphosphate, ribosomes, and all these other terms that were retained overnight just in time for the next day’s exam, and then conveniently forgotten till the quarter finals. Finally, a game that could make learning about cells so much fun and interactive, it’s like I’m “really there.” Finally, I’ll be able to understand science like a boss.
The Reality: Goddamnit. I’m not understanding anything. Cellcraft is one of the simplest yet hardest to understand point and click games ever made. I do admire how the programmers managed to make a story out of this. From what I could tell from playing the first 40 minutes of the game, you belong to a race of humanoid Platypus facing the dire threat of extinction from a deadly planetary impact. To save your species, the Platypus biologists take a parcel of platypus DNA and shoot it out into another planet, preserving their genetic footprint.
This far in and we stil haven’t discussed gameplay. Cellcraft is a top view point and click game set inside a petri dish. As a single cell, you have to work your way up to gaining new body parts (“organelles”) by slothing around, producing essential “stuff” that helps produce more organelles that have specific functions. Everything that you do takes up ATP, which is in colloquial terms, Time Units. ATP recharges whenever you digest more and more … stuff. Between producing ATP, combatting viruses and making sure you don’t poison yourself with your mitochondria’s poop, there’s a lot of pointing and clicking. I got lost after the third stage, trying to remember what organelle does which and completely abandoned the game after the fifth mission.
My hopes and dreams to finally understand cellular biology has gone up in smoke. From a gameplay perspective it seems quite polished with a very relaxing soundtrack I’d just leave on in the background while I go about contemplating life. But this game isn’t for me. It is again, too much science and too much point and clicking.