Particulars is a game based around the command of sub-atomic particles. Through their various states and polarity, you control a single quark as it completes puzzle objectives in a single-hub level. The game is still in Alpha so I got a chance to play around with its Early Access version to figure out if this game could compellingly sell me on molecular science through the video game medium.
After playing the game at its current state, I can tell you that it’s a bit heady. To be perfectly honest with you, science never really interested me in school and doesn’t particularly do much for me today. Still, science is what this game tries to explain, and Particulars is a smart game with some unique game mechanics that act as unique methods of presenting its lofty ideas.
Controlling a single quark, you utilize your ionic charge to fulfill certain requirements that are presented to you at the beginning of each level. Some objectives include surviving implosions brought on by anti-quarks (something about their charge causing an annihilation if it comes into contact with your own) to causing these atoms to collide. All of this is framed as occurring in a machine discovered by the human narrator who reveals snippets of her troubled life at the start of each new level.
While the game does its best to explain the science behind the gameplay mechanics, it’s hard to relate to rapidly moving sub-atomic particles than you’d imagine. That is why the inclusion of the female narrator is welcome if a bit frustrating at first. She reveals information about herself at the start of each new level in the form of quotes about her, or relating to her, from various people within her life, as well as famous quotes from movies, literature, etc. To be honest, the portrait painted is not quite flattering though I suppose that’s in an effort to construct a complex character.
With so little revealed from her perspective initially, all one can judge our narrator by is some harsh words from those around her delivered in the narrator’s sarcastic tone of voice that offers no explanation or context to the circumstances. It’s a strange narrative device that somehow places the player at odds with her. It’s not off putting per se, but it creates the feeling of having an unreliable narrator even though I don’t think that’s what the game was quite gunning for.
Particulars is still early in development and while our site recently posted on the negative effects of Early Access games, when I encounter a scene that is literally a slide telling me the real scene (that will add narrative context) will be added later, I begin to wonder whether or not it’s even worth it to play a game so early in development.
On the other hand, the gameplay is solid here and the (literally) physics-based puzzle mechanics are something that, once you get used to them, are wholly novel in concept and practice. If science is your passion, this game has plenty of it, delivered in an original puzzle game.
[Particulars is currently on Steam]