A frustrating, limited exploration game as well as a delirious exploration of one of sci-fi's greats, Californium is a fascinating oddity.
Starts strongly, but soon fades into a slog through samey puzzles and ever-weaker environments.
It steps on The Stanley Parable's toes a little too often, and doesn't have the chops to withstand that comparison – it would have been a lot more sensible to have avoided the seemingly deliberate comparisons altogether. But it remains wonderful just to look at, the rest a bonus treat.
Californium can't get past writer's block
Exploration through stylish worlds with a dash of subtle, paranoia-inducing surrealism makes this a strong—if somewhat tedious—walk-em-up, but for a game building off the memory of a literary legend, the actual narrative leaves a lot to be desired.
[Californium] did get challenging at times, and I would be lying if I said I didn't rage quit once or twice, but in the end the reward for finishing was worth it.
Californium is a labour of love that didn't even try to do a fine job at using the thing it loves the most. It makes promises of offering a plot-heavy adventure that is heavily inspired by Philip K. Dick, when it's just marginally influenced by it, and, even worse, gameplay-wise, it is a frustrating hidden object game, which becomes less so due to its gorgeous, wallpaper-worthy visuals.
Californium is first and foremost a delight for the eyes and the ears. Then, it’s an analysis on the effects of Elvin’s writing upon him, done in a quasi-interactive manner. Its simplistic, tedious gameplay drastically reduces the amount of players Californium can hope to appeal to.