MythBusters: The Game – Crazy Experiments Simulator is a new Engineering Simulation game coming to Steam. It is advertised as a game that lets you experience being a MythBuster. Does the game succeed in putting the player in the MythBusters‘ shoes? Or does it fall flat as a cheap cash grab?
I’m going to start this preview by saying that I am not a huge MythBusters fan. I’ve seen some clips and reruns, but was never actively following the show. Even so I still found myself to be disappointed by how little this game felt like a MythBusters game. There is no voicework from MythBusters, there is no crew, there is nothing in game to discern this game as a MythBusters experience.
If you want to check out MythBusters: The Game there is a free demo on Steam. As of the writing of this article there is no solid release date for the full game. The full release was recently postponed and developers have yet to give a new release date.
Story: Where are the MythBusters?
The Story of the game is that you are a MythBuster just starting out and you have to rise in popularity by doing crazy stunts. The only thing in game that suggests this is a brief text box when you start the game. After that, all semblance of story is thrown to the side.
Yes, the myths in the game are based on myths from the show. However, none of the chosen myths feel particularly memorable. The first myth has you seeing how effective cover is against a grenade, the second myth has you flying a lawn chair tied with balloons and anchors, the third myth has you trying to curve bullets with metal pipes, the fourth myth has you testing salami as rocket fuel, and the final myth is attaching rockets to a car to see if it flies. Besides maybe the rocket car I can’t say these are the Myths I would’ve chosen to represent the franchise.
While these myths might be interesting in real life, they feel incredibly bland from a gameplay perspective. Especially so when they aren’t accompanied by any of the quips or interesting explanations that you would get from the show. When you prove a myth and there’s no fanfare or celebration. You just click “End Experiment” to start on the next one.
Gameplay: Repetitive Gameloop and Reused Content
MythBusters: The Game features 5 unique myths to bust. Each myth is revisited multiple times with nothing of substance added. For example, the myth “Curving the Bullet” is one where you have to set up curved pipes to redirect a bullet into a gel cube. To do this myth you need to craft the same curved pipe item a minimum of 6 times. The second version of this myth just adds a second gun and cube, which is mechanically uninteresting because nothing changes about the experiment, you just need to craft more curved pipes.
Every myth in the game suffers from this problem. Finish a myth, get a new version that just makes you craft more of the same item you had to craft the first time. More balloons for the chair, more rockets for the car, more fuel for the rocket, etc.
What makes it worse is that none of these myths are mechanically engaging to begin with. Here is a quick run through of what you have to do for every myth in the game.
The MythBusters Process Step 1: Blueprinting
Before you start a myth you first have to go through the blueprinting phase. Blueprinting makes you go through a handful of completely unrelated puzzles in order to unlock the myth. These puzzles range from bouncing a ball off specific objects, answering multiple choice questions, guiding a ball in a sliding puzzle, and filling up a shape to a specific percentage. To be completely honest, these were the most engaging part of the entire game, which doesn’t say much. Some of the puzzles made me have to think for more than 10 seconds which is more than I can say for the rest of the game.
The MythBusters Process Step 2: Gathering Materials
Once you complete your blueprint, you get access to the notebook for that myth. The notebook is essentially a laundry list that you can flip through to find exactly what you need to buy to build all the components of the myth. By pressing F on a specific page you can bring up a less intrusive list on the side of your screen for everything needed to craft that page.
The process of gathering materials consists of just running around the warehouse to find the item you need and then purchasing it. Money is not hard to come by in this game. So it’s never really a matter of managing a budget. You just run around and click on whatever you need.
You later unlock the ability to go to the dump to find materials for free. I never used this because the materials I found there were generally not what I needed, and since money is so easy to come by it never felt necessary to try to save up.
The MythBusters Process Step 3: Building
Building in this game is incredibly mundane. Building anything in the game is only a matter of having the right materials in your inventory and clicking or holding in the highlighted spot. So it doesn’t really matter if I’m building a rocket ship or a crash dummy, they both feel mechanically identical. After I’ve gathered the materials from the list, I just go to the correct crafting station and click where I’m told to click. There is no room for creativity, which feels odd in an engineering simulator.
Certain stations work a little different. The Foundry and the 3D Printer both have you just wait for an item to finish. While the Saw and the Soldering Table offer small little minigames. The Saw has you trying to time your cuts; the orange zone is a good cut that will give you one of that material, while the green zone is a perfect cut that will give you 2. It’s a simple minigame that is a little more engaging than just clicking where you want to cut. The Soldering Table brings up a circuit puzzle that you have to solve. These are pretty simple, and there is no penalty for just placing things until it works.
Overall, the engineering experience in this engineering simulator feels too simple, repetitive, and boring.
The MythBusters Process Step 4: Testing a Myth
To test a myth you take your MythBusters van to one of 3 different test sites: the shooting range, the launch site, and the airstrip. Usually before you can test a myth you need to set up a few things on site. Whether its arranging pipes to curve a bullet towards a gel cube, putting a bucket over a grenade, or attaching rockets to a car, the set up is never very interesting.
Actually testing each myth is a little more unique. Depending on the myth, you sometimes get to play some clunky minigames. The balloon lawn chair myth allows you to ride in the chair and let go of weight to rise and shoot balloons to lower in order to hit targets. The aiming in this minigame felt finnicky and unresponsive. The rocket car myth lets you drive the rocket car, but you only have to drive straight for like 10 seconds then use boost near the end.
The MythBusters Process Step 5: Editing Episodes
Completing myths and blueprints rewards you with cards. Cards allow you to create new episodes of MythBusters by putting 5 of them together. Each card can give you more money, more popularity, or more exp for your skill tree. To make a complete episode you need to assemble cards that run a timespan between 45-60 minutes.
By gaining popularity, you also gain money and receive emails. Emails will always contain one of 2 things: either a random fan giving you a vague bit of praise, or the Discovery Channel sending you a new experiment idea (which usually ends up being the one you just did with more items). The Emails never correlate to a specific episode you put out or the cards you used. Oftentimes different emails will reuse the same text.
Missing Features and Quality of Life
There were several aspects of this game that I felt could be improved to drastically improve game experience, here’s a list of minor gripes that I had.
There are 2 types of saw blades: a wood saw and a metal saw. However, there is only one saw in the workshop. This means that you have to disassemble the saw every time you want to switch from cutting wood to cutting metal. If you cut the wrong material with the wrong saw it will ruin the saw and force you to change it anyways. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s an unnecessary step when there easily could’ve been two saws, or at least a way to unlock a second saw.
It would’ve been nice to have more explanation for each of the myths. For every myth there is a small blurb about what it is, but not where it originates from. Furthermore after completing a myth, you get no explanation as to why it works. The myth just ends. I don’t feel like I learned anything from the engineering process which seems counter-intuitive to the engineering experience.
Whenever you drop anything on the ground it initiates a 30 second timer before the cleanup crew comes to take it. This is incredibly annoying as you can only leave completed objects in specified zones. A pretty common example is when using the saw it will drop the cut pieces into a bin, but when the bin overflows the pieces fall onto the floor which initiates the timer. While I understand the game already has trouble loading as is, it really wouldn’t be too hard to let the player leave things on the ground and then despawn them when they transition areas. This restriction seems silly when you are in a workshop: a place that is usually messy.
The Skill Tree
The experience points you earn by using experience cards in episodes can be used to fill out a skill tree. None of the skills on this tree are particularly interesting. Most of them consist of speeding up actions, reducing costs, or expanding your inventory. None of the skills add anything to the game, but rather speed up the tedium that shouldn’t be there to begin with.
Most of these skills just allow you to play the game less. One of them even lets you skip the entire blueprinting phase when unlocked. There aren’t any skills that feel exciting to unlock, nothing that actually mitigates the tedium. The skills only serve to make the flawed existing systems faster rather than better.
While the game certainly wants you to replay the same 5 myths over and over again, there really isn’t great incentive to do so. None of the revisits to old myths add anything of value. Furthermore, your only reward for completing them is more cards and a new version of that same myth.
Revisiting old myths doesn’t add any new variables that would make the outcome of the experiment any different. The problem with these experiments is that the outcome feels predetermined. You aren’t actually testing anything, you either do the myth correctly and move on or you don’t and have to retry.
The controls in this game are not great. Almost everything in the game is done with left click: purchasing, building, disassembling, interacting, picking items up etc. The keyboard is used for movement and opening up a bunch of different menus and UI. Left Shift Sprints, Q opens your notebook, X and C flip the pages left and right respectively, T marks a page in the notebook, F puts a list of needed materials to craft what’s on that page, I opens your inventory, and Z enters disassembly mode.
Disassembly mode allows you to take apart things by left clicking rather than assemble them. While it is nice to be able to disassemble mistakes, it is bizarre to not just have the action on right click. Right click is only used to throw big objects you are carrying, and it would be natural for the game to just have build and destroy on separate clicks for convenience; something like how it works in Minecraft. Entering and exiting disassembly mode feels clunky and slow in comparison.
The lack of a jump button felt strange. This is not to say that I expect a simulator game to play like a platformer, but rather that it would help moving around areas crammed with physics objects, like the back of the truck. I found especially when I had to load 12 curved pipes into the back of the truck that positioning the pipes would be much easier if I could jump over the ones already loaded.
Controller Support! Kind of…
I was surprised to find that plugging my Dualshock 4 into my laptop actually worked for this game. However, after messing around with the controls a bit I noticed there were a few things wrong. As far as I could tell, there is no way to access the notebook or the inventory menu on a controller. While you can access multiple items from your toolbelt, you can only access slots 1-4 out of 9; one for each direction on the D-Pad. Furthermore, actions like leaving a crafting station and disassembly mode seemed entirely inaccessible as well.
It’s weird because all of the face buttons are completely unused. If the game is going to be compatible with controllers at all, why are there features completely missing that make the game borderline unplayable?
Bugs Galore and an Overall lack of Polish
I found the myth testing to be one of the least enjoyable parts of the game mainly due to a lack of polish. Most of the first versions of the myths work fine, but I ran into a lot of technical problems on some of the later versions.
When I attempted the second version of the curving the bullet myth, I had multiple curved pipes disappear when trying to move them. This forced me to go back and craft more. This myth also did not bring up the end experiment screen by itself upon completion unlike every other myth.
When I attempted the second version of the balloon myth where I had to attach more than 10 balloons to the chair, it started to make my game lag. This lag persisted through the rest of my time playing the game even in different areas.
When I attempted the second version of the grenade cover myth, the game would not let me place the second explosive. There are supposed to be two spots to place explosives, and one of them just did not spawn upon loading the area. I had to reload the area multiple times to even start this myth.
Bugs like these were common and often added to the frustration of an already tedious game.
Graphics and Sound: Killing PCs and Ears
My experience with this games graphics and sound were similarly underwhelming. This game lacks a lot of visual and audio flair, as well as a lot of optimization.
Graphics: Looks fine, I guess
The game looks fine. If you’ve played a simulator game in the last 10 years the graphical style will look familiar to you. On highest settings the textures look good, albeit a bit simple. Most items look fine from a distance but generally look worse the closer you look. Particle effects and explosions are the parts of the game that look the absolute worst. But overall the graphics are generally inoffensive and work fine for an engineering simulator game. Again, there isn’t much that discerns this game visually as a MythBusters title.
Sound and Music: Busting Eardrums
The sound effects in this game are incredibly generic. I feel like I’ve heard every sound effect in this game before even playing it. I’m going to assume that most of the sound effects in this game come from a default library.
The soundtrack for this game boasts about 10 different songs that can be accessed at radios scattered around the different areas. Each song consists of a short repetitive guitar riff that loops forever. None of the songs stuck out as particularly memorable. Music only plays near the radios so if you happen to be in a spot where there is no radio nearby then the game will be completely and awkwardly silent.
As a quick aside, Music Volume and Radio Volume are 2 separate sliders in the audio settings menu. Music Volume only effects the title screen music, while radio volume effects all in game music. I don’t understand why there were 2 sliders for this, and it’s confusing for new players trying to save their eardrums from the extremely loud default volume, when they don’t know what the radio does yet.
Performance Issues: You have enough RAM – Myth Busted
I’m going to start this section by saying I don’t have the best PC. I play on a pretty decent gaming laptop. For reference, I’ve had little to no issues running more intensive games like Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Strive, or DNF Duel at high settings. But running MythBusters: The Game was proving to be increasingly demanding on my PC.
At first it was just regular frame drops. Especially when loading in a new area the game would sometimes chug a little bit. However, the more I played the game the worse it’s performance got. The logical reason for performance to get worse is that the game keeps all of its areas, and everything in them, loaded at all times. I noticed performance suffered significantly right after I did the second version of the balloon experiment.
At this point I decided to lower all of the graphics settings to low, but this only seemed to make the performance worse as the game had to now reload everything. When I checked my Task Manager I noticed that the game was using between 5-6GB of RAM and made my GPU incredibly hot. If I was playing a giant, graphically complex, game like Elden Ring I would blame it on my Laptop being underpowered. But MythBusters: The Game is graphically dull and very small. There is no excuse for a game this small to be so unoptimized. I’m still trying to bust the myth of if this game is using my PC to mine crypto. It got to the point where the game became pretty much unplayable 6 hours in.