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Cart #molecules-3 | 2020-04-11 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | No License


A 3D puzzle game by Matthias Falk.

It's the year 5038. Mankind has gone to space in search for extraterrestrial life.

After endless travels a sequence of 32 molecules is found.

Can you uncover their secrets?



Up = go up
Down = go down
Left = go left
Right = go right
(o) (C on keyboard) = go forward
(x) (X on keyboard) = go backward
Enter = In-game menu

Touch and gamepad controls also available (see itch).


On itch.io you can find the official page of the game including several downloads (native apps, wallpaper sets etc.).


'molecules' is an experimental puzzle game set in space, where you need to find the right path along a chain of atoms in order to clear a level.

Inspired by several 3D tutorials I aimed to create a full 3D game for the very limited hardware of the PICO-8 fantasy console and thus push the console to its very limits. The game features 3D graphics and 3D controls (movement along all 3 axes is possible and needed to clear the levels) and dynamic sound effects.

I have tried to create a unique experience for PICO-8, both in terms of presentation and gameplay and invested quite some time in the game's feeling and atmosphere.

I would love to hear what you think and include your feedback into the game.

Cheers, Matt

P#56475 2018-09-10 03:40 ( Edited 2021-11-27 19:27)

Great puzzle game. Excellent UI and presentation. I picked up the controls fairly quickly (O and X for forward and backward took me a minute) Thanks for your great work.

P#56479 2018-09-10 11:51 ( Edited 2018-09-10 15:51)

Really quite tricky. Was wondering if you would use 2-more buttons for slight rotation. Sometimes it's difficult to see the playboard when further pieces of the board are covered by bigger pieces.

P#56483 2018-09-10 12:34 ( Edited 2018-09-10 16:34)

This was definitely very polished and well-presented! The sounds and visuals were quite nice.
After the first few levels it definitely gets a lot more interesting, but in some ways it also becomes a memorization game as it can be difficult to determine the exact arrangement of nodes after the level intro ends and the rotation freezes.

A few notes:

  • I do find myself sometimes momentarily forgetting which direction (O) and (X) moved in, but it wasn't so often that I couldn't complete it. But since you do have them written right below the cart that's mostly my fault.
  • I also wish there was another way to reset (ex. holding (O) and (X) at the same time), since you can't always back yourself into a corner quickly and I'm always paranoid I'm going to accidentally hit the Reset Cart pause menu option by accident (which I did do once).
  • While the later levels do get a lot trickier, I felt like the difficulty may have actually ramped up too slowly in the beginning, as it wasn't until about halfway through that navigating the molecule consistently felt like a spacial puzzle and not just following an obvious path.
  • When a node changes size (either from being reached or from the final one becoming unlocked) it becomes much harder to judge its position relative to the others (And sometimes makes it harder to see what's behind it). Color changes and/or smaller size changes might be less problematic.
  • Since it can be hard to tell the arrangement of nodes on some levels, having an opportunity to see the level rotating as it does at the start when you reset or fail would be nice since it helps you visualize the positions better.
  • Maybe you could add a feature to track how long you play on each level and display the overall time at the end? That or track how many times you reset/fail.
P#56511 2018-09-11 00:42 ( Edited 2018-09-11 04:42)

This is really good! However a lot of the levels felt less like puzzles are more like linear tracks.

P#56526 2018-09-11 13:01 ( Edited 2018-09-11 17:01)

A very enjoyable puzzle game! The UI is clear, the 3D play area is well presented, and isn't confusing at all.

I have only got two complaints:

  • I am not sure what counts as a Perfect score. I think it means
    when you leave no circles untouched, but sometimes it just said
    Completed, other times it did count it. But I'm sure I'm the one
    who doesn't get something.

  • As other people said, the levels are like linear tracks, with
    very little twists that make puzzles interesting and fun.
P#56743 2018-09-16 15:17 ( Edited 2018-09-16 19:17)

Thanks for all the feedback. I received so many inputs both in technical terms as well as the gameplay. The PICO-8 community is just an incredible family. (^_^)

Regarding some common points:

  • I deliberately made the first 7-8 levels very easy / linear tracks to get accustomed with the game's controls (I was afraid that the 6 buttons could be a bit much at the beginning and some space to learn the controls would be good).
  • I experimented with adding even more buttons to be able to rotate the levels, but this felt like total overkill for a PICO-8 game (also restricting being able to play the game on non-PC devices) and in the end this added to the levels' challenges.
  • How do I get a 'perfect'? You will get perfect if you complete a level without an error (denoted by an error sound), i.e. without making a move that is not allowed (going in a direction that is not possible or blocked by prior moves --> no "wrong" button presses).
  • Reset: You can always reset via the in-game menu (enter key), also in case you have a made an error and want to achieve a 'perfect' in a level. I will publish an update soon that will communicate this better since not many people seem to use PICO-8 in-game menu regularly. I will also allow o+x to trigger a reset all the time.

Will update the game soon with some changes - thanks again for all the warm messages and feedback :)

P#56776 2018-09-17 05:02 ( Edited 2018-09-17 09:02)

I have made a video with 100% game completion. Enjoy.


P#57083 2018-09-25 11:40 ( Edited 2018-09-25 15:45)

I am so thoroughly impressed by this game. The fact that you were able to make this game both enjoyable to play and 3D on a Pico-8 format is stunning to me. This is truly a masterpiece!

P#111932 2022-05-17 15:02

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