(Almost) Nothing Works!

Over the last couple of days I have been replaying SpaceChem which I bought off GOG.com some time ago. SpaceChem is a puzzle game where the player is tasked with assembling and dismantling molecules. The player does this by creating a system within a reactor which gathers the atom/molecule which needs processing, and then by creating a string of commands for a cursor to follow, the molecules/atoms can be assembled/dismantled through chemical bonding, and then shipped off to their next process.


The game is pretty fun, and also rather challenging, and you can sometimes find time whizzing by on one standard puzzle alone. It can be at times frustrating, but ‘if’ you are able to complete the task, it can also feel pretty rewarding. The reactor systems themselves can be fun just to watch, especially if you have a really complex one, which can make the creation of an atom look like the construction of an entire car. Plus, the music is pretty nice too. I played SpaceChem once many months ago, and got to a level on the third set (planet) of missions called ‘Nothing Works’. It was a pretty hard level, and at the time I was unable to complete it. Eventually I stopped trying and stopped playing altogether. Well, today I re-reached that level, and struggled once more. The level sounds pretty simple, you just need to dismantle several molecules, and then reassemble them somewhere else into brand new molecules. The real struggle of the level though comes in the form of a remainder.

One plant dismantles a molecule with 4 H atoms and 1 C atom on it (Methane). It dismantles it so that 3 H atoms are removed, and sent somewhere else. The H and still attached C are sent away to be turned into Hydrogen Cyanide. The 3 H’s meanwhile are now sent to another plant to be turned into Hydrogen, which consists of 2 H’s. But three have been sent, so what happens to the other H?


It’s a difficult task as it can be a real headscratcher. For this occasion though I looked into some walkthroughs on YouTube for help, and I sort of understood what I needed to do, but for the extra assist, I copied the final reactor process in one of the videos to give me an idea of what I was looking to do. It looked pretty all tight and done, but then there were problems with the reactor, ones I could not solve off the top of my head. So, to try and get the level over and done with, I followed the diagrams in another video for each of the reactors to the very detail, and to begin with they sort of worked, but then got problems.┬áSo, I went back to the first video, and copied it’s details to the very detail including length and direction of pipes between reactors; and it partially worked, but not enough to complete the level as problems began to emerge. The issue with both of these walkthrough’s; was that the reactor processes worked whilst the process was flowing, but they didn’t work at the start of the process when kicked-off.


At this stage I had pretty much reached my tether after spending quite possibly hours on this one level! I decided to give it one more go. I found another walkthrough video (from TRDGame), and did the same as what the video suggested. I followed everything to the letter with the finest of tooth combs. I was though rather surprised at how simple the solution was for the final reactor. I immediately exclaimed to myself saying ‘Just That!’ like a character once said in an episode of Mongrels. After I completed the layout’s and everything, I set all the reactors off, and they worked so perfectly, and I completed the level.


So that’s why I titled this post “(Almost) Nothing Works; as I found a way that the level could be completed. If that had not been the case, I’d probably have titled the post ‘Nothing Works (Seriously)!’

Anyway, now I can move on to the next level.

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