Playing God has a bit of a poor reputation: the kind of reputation that leads to torch and pitchfork wielding villagers smoking you out of a burning windmill. However, Alxemy, the engaging new puzzler by Hyptod, reminds us that sometimes, creating life can feel more like playing with Lego blocks than a crime against nature.
Alxemy presents you with a barren wasteland, more than ready to be filled with your alxemical creations. Using the mouse, you drag two elements from the right onto the transmutation circle, and with a click, you set off a possible reaction. A successful one will add a new element to your categories and the world at large, while a unsuccessful one will flash red with failure. Off to the left, under the trash warp, is a scroll of elemental possibilities, and below the circle, your assistant offers helpful hints. There are 119 elements to create. (Sadly, you are required to click some of the on-screen links to get all the available elements, though you do not actually have to Facebook post or whatever to finish the game, just click the link itself.) Good luck, and be sure to tell the human not to take advice from the snake...
Analysis: It's impossible to discuss Alxemy without comparing it to Doodle God. The two games are so similar in their scope and mechanics that it would be disingenuous not to mention the clear inspiration, or at least influence. However, Alxemy has a charm all its own, and comes off less as leader-following than as a serious attempt to improve on the flaws of its counterpart. I think both will have their fans.
First, the good: Whereas Doodle God sometimes felt like it was reducing creation to smashing blocks together to make new blocks, Alxemy is much better at capturing the feeling of building a world from scratch. The updating view of the earth you are creating is quite a nice touch, and it is a delight to see it slowly filling with the various flora and fauna. What's more, the successful combinations feel logical, while at the same time rewarding lateral thinking... I don't know if I would have expected, for instance, fire + fox = red panda, but I cannot deny the power of the pun. The helpful hints delivered by your meganekko partner serve the dual purpose of offering a justification for the more esoteric equations, while also being quite informative: Alxemy isn't quite an edutainment game, but I certainly felt a little smarter than I did before.
On the downside, the interface has a bit of clunkiness to it, and is more crowded than I would like. There are so many buttons available to click, especially for a game based in such a simple idea. The crowdedness also extends to the mechanics: It's much easier to take elements out than to put them away (I kept trying to place them back from the category I had dragged them from). While this does give a nice "work-bench" feel to the game, it also means I often had more elements out than needed. Considering the aqua tint of both the background, the natural greens were lost against it. Also, I would have appreciated some alternate solutions: In my mind, mammal + bird = bat makes as much sense as shrew + air, so why only recognize the latter?
While the above might limit its crossover casual appeal, make no mistake: Alxemy is a great time and should keep many addicted until the final piece is combined. It's a fine evolutionary branch of the Alchemy concept started in DOS and revitalized by Doodle God. In any case, the fact you'll have fun is elemental-ly, my dear Watson.