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Science, Web / Download

Transmission by Loju

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This smart looking game takes players on a journey from the humble telegraph through to cellphones and satellites in a series of increasingly fiendish puzzles based on a simple click and drag mechanic. The aim is to transmit packets of data between specific points based on the quirks of each method of communication. Easily digestible learning tidbits are sequenced between levels and while you may not remember it all, the basics of data transmission will stay with you. Superb sound design adds depth to the pared back visuals and the in-game feedback is also top notch.

Why we love it:

  • A distinct, highly polished look and feel.
  • Easy to start playing but plenty of depth for the pros.
  • Gorgeous responsive sound design.

Get it for iOS or Android or Online

The Sandbox by Pixowl

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The Sandbox is a free-to-play physics simulator. Players are given access to an array of materials and encouraged to experiment with them. Each material has a unique property and will react to other materials placed nearby. This allows the player to build simple machines, electrical circuits and a variety chemistry based experiments. Whilst the tutorial gently guides you through a variety of in-game possibilities it is the free play mode that offers the player long term fulfilment. The control system makes the most of the iOS touchscreen and offers a simple and intuitive interface which is perfect for experimentation.

Why we love it:

  • Learn about a variety of materials and their properties.
  • Build circuits, conduct experiments and create structures virtually.
  • Save, share and rate your best creations in the online gallery.

Play it online or get it for iOS or Android

Untrusted by Alex Nisnevich

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Untrusted is a lo-fi adventure game which challenges you to escape from a series of increasingly cryptic puzzle rooms by editing the very code that is running the game in your web browser.

With its atmospheric electronic soundtrack and authentic ASCII-art aesthetic, Untrusted evokes the feel of classic cyberpunk literature and hacker culture, while also helping players improve their programming skills. There has been a wave of games exploring programming concepts recently, but what makes Untrusted stand out is its focus on getting players to really think like a programmer. With a strong emphasis on reading unfamiliar code and modifying it through the creative use of a limited set of commands, the game helps budding coders to develop the core problem solving skills that are transferable to any programming language.

Why we love it:

  • Retro aesthetic gives the game an authentic hacker feel.
  • Open-ended design means there are many solutions.
  • Modifying code makes you think like a programmer.
  • The game’s code is open source and downloadable.

Play it online

Ouch by Thought Den

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Ouch is a simple yet effective micro game built by Thought Den for the Science Museum. Based on the Arcade classic Missile Command, it explores how patients can manage their pain using a variety of methods. An unwitting central character becomes the focal point for a succession of pain impulses that could easily tip them over the edge. Your job is to intercept the pain impulses before they reach the brain.

A positive mood can help make your task a little easier, represented by cute smiling faces that can be used to take the edge off, but you will still need some quick-click skills to place your placebos. When the stakes increase you can use painkillers, but an over-reliance on these will see them become less and less effective. More outlandish solutions include the impulse-blocking spider venom and the reliable smart bomb general anaesthetic.

Why we love it:

  • Simple and appealing art style
  • Classic arcade gameplay, with room for replays
  • Clearly conveys the learning messages

Kerbal Space Program by Squad

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Kerbal Space Program is a game where players of all ages create their own space program. The aim is to help the Kerbals to conquer space by building and flying rockets. NASA has partnered with the game on a special downloadable mission pack and KerbalEdu, a cooperative, school-friendly version of space exploration sim Kerbal Space Program, was launched late last year. KSP is still under development, but we can’t wait to see what the team come up with!

Why we love it:

  • Cute characters backed by hard science.
  • Open sandbox promotes learning through experimentation.
  • The demo version is free, and will remain so forever.

Try or buy it here

Fraxinus by Team Cooper & The Sainsbury Laboratory

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In the UK Ash trees are being attacked by a serious disease leaving some of the country’s few remaining ancient woodlands in serious danger. Fraxinus is a Facebook game that uses the tree’s real genetic data, and challenges the player to manipulate patterns to match sequences. The game capitalises on human’s capacity for pattern recognition and gives scientists a helping hand sorting the genome of the Ash tree in pursuit of a cure for the disease.

Why we love it:

  • Strong social network integration.
  • Very accessible version of this type of game.
  • Moreish and meaningful.

Play it on Facebook

Sokobond by Alan Hazelden and Harry Lee

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Sokobond is a block-pushing puzzler about chemistry. Rather than being a direct simulation, it inspires further exploration of a sometimes daunting subject. A tutorial-free introduction immerses the player in experimentation as they try to figure out how different atoms bond to make molecules, without being prescriptive or dull. The visual design is beautiful, clear and refined, distilling the essence of the gameplay and learning into a triumph of simplicity. Critically acclaimed for good reason!

Why we love it:

  • A worthy tribute to Japanese classic Sokoban.
  • Clean art style.
  • Gradual and organic learning.

Download it for Mac, Windows & Linux