Review – Pharmakon – A Puzzler with a Dose of Strategy

Review – Pharmakon – A Puzzler with a Dose of Strategy
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Platforms:

Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Pharmakon

Publisher(s):

Visumeca Games

Developer(s):

Visumeca Games

Genre(s):

Strategy

Release Date:

July 20th, 2017

Pharmakon from Visumeca Games

Looking to kill some time with a fresh new puzzle game? Look no further, Pharmakon by Visumeca Games is as addicting as it is innovative.

More of a strategy/puzzle hybrid, Pharmakon takes place in a futuristic sci-fi setting. In rare form, this puzzle game unlocks a storyline bit by bit as levels are completed. With just a few lines of dialogue between each level, players are slowly introduced to a dark story full of mystery and intrigue.

A Deeper Meaning

One of the definitions of Pharmakon is the title of a certain philosophy. The word itself is derived from a Greek word sharing three meanings: remedy, poison and scapegoat. The storyline in Pharmakon perfectly uses each of these meanings to bring a curious sense of dread as each puzzle progresses.

The gameplay itself is involving but easy to learn. The idea is to use a drone to dispatch beasts that prevent the drone from going further. This is done by using elemental pieces shaped like Tetrominos (shapes made famous from Tetris) to attack enemies with opposing elemental attributes.

At the beginning of each stage, the player starts off with six pieces of the same element. With each level completed, new pieces with different elemental qualities are acquired. The player must choose which direction to attack the targeted beast. As if a result of impact, attacking from each side will move the enemy in the opposite direction attacked. This is where the strategy element comes into play. More damage is dealt to surrounding enemies if a monster is thrown into them or dies within their vicinity.

Elemental Strategy: Simple yet Enjoyable

Pharmakon gameplay isn’t as simple as just destroying monsters; they also fight back. In more of a turn-based style, monsters will return the attacks based on their elemental attribute. Once this happens, they can knock one or several of the pieces out of the grid-based drone, forcing the player to repair the area that was hit. A small square will have a repair symbol as well as a symbol for which element is needed to repair the damage.

This brings us to the section on the right of the drone, as shown in the screenshots. There are two columns for elemental attributes. The left column shows current elemental strengths of the drone. The second column is a little more interesting; Tetrominos can be broken down for use of repair. This destroys the piece, but it’s the only way to repair the drone and avoid an abrupt end to the level at the hands of enemies.

These simple mechanics come together to bring more of a robust offering than typical casual puzzle games. In addition to regular gameplay, a grid-based power-up tree is gradually unlocked. This allows the player to add a few advantages to their arsenal. The main storyline can be completed in a couple of hours, and an arcade mode is unlocked after completion to keep the gameplay going.

Pharmakon is a great puzzle/strategy game for those looking for something out of the ordinary or simply those seeking a new casual yet addicting challenge.

Pharmakon is available via Steam.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Watch the official trailer for Pharmakon below:

michael.duhacek

[Toronto, Canada] Michael Duhacek is an avid gamer who also works in the entertainment industry.

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