The Great Work
Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren
Released January 28, 2013
Genre Adventure, Platformer
Platform(s) Apple OS X, Linux, Microsoft Windows
Input Keyboard
Distribution Free
Download Full game

The Great Work is a freeware 2D platform-adventure game, developed by Nicklas Nygren for a documentary based on an IT-salesman who had taken one year off from his job to become an alchemist. The name comes from the alchemical term "Magnum opus" and refers to the the process of creating the philosopher's stone.

The Great Work has been commended for soothing visuals, beautiful ambient music, and "plenty of opportunities to get lost in passageways as you attempt to circle your way back...perfect for an afternoon or two of exploration."[1]

Gameplay Edit

The graphics and game mechanics are similar to Nifflas' previous title, Knytt Underground, in which the player traverses a mostly-subterranean world and advances through the story by completing a series of quests, although the order in which those quests may be taken is fairly linear in The Great Work.

Like Underground, the player has the ability to scale walls, and falling from heights does no damage. Work also introduces new features such as the ability to grab onto cave ceilings.


One of the aboveground locations, inaccessible until the player has found the proper equipment.

However, unlike Underground, the abilities are not intrinsic to the character and must be gained by acquiring various items and equipping them via the inventory. There are also no "warp points" and after quitting a sesison the player resumes the game at the location of the last character spoken to.

Items may be traded with other characters or put into various containers that may perform different operations on them, such as translating a diagram or smelting some ore.

Plot Edit


The Dew Mines near the beginning of the game, with the player swimming under the Dew Altar.

The player begins as an apprentice to Fulcanelli, who believes he has managed to produce the philosopher's stone and tasks the player with seeing if it can be used to create gold.

At the beginning the player has no other items besides the philosopher's stone and must find various tracts which describe how different elements may be combined. The game involves undertaking quests for various characters and trading with them until the player has obtained some lead as well as all the tools necessary for a transmutation.

Development Edit

The Great Work was made for a documentary film by Fredrik Oskarsson and Oskar Östergren (known as Oskar & Oskarsson) for Bautafilm, titled Alkemistens År. The story is based on Christer Böke who took one year off from his well-paid job as an IT-salesman to become a full-time alchemist. During that year he moved to the island of Gotland in the Swedish countryside, where he built a laboratory in his late grandfather's garage. He lived three months in France as well, studying the language and exchanging ideas with French alchemists.[2]

Development was underway as far back as November 22, 2010, during which progress on "Wadfknytt" was halted until The Great Work could be finished.[3] On January 28th, 2013, Nifflas announced on the release on the official forums.[4]

Nifflas stated a "strong personal interest"[3] in making the game. In a discussion regarding alchemy versus science, Nifflas stated that the point of the documentary was that it's about "an interesting person, devoting his life to something that makes no sense in most people's eyes."[5] "We're not living in a world where you have to be right for your choices to take you somewhere interesting. Think microwave oven, the post-it note, Västerbottensost, or anything else that was originally created partially by accident. I mean, hypothetically - devote your life to studying alchemy and you might end up having knowledge enough to teach history at an university. That's a win to me."

Music Edit

Besides Nifflas' own soundtrack, The Great Work features music by Knaster, a Swedish band that makes what they describe as "organic electronica."[2] The two songs featured in the game, titled Kingdom and Lisa, are part of their album No. 3.

World Edit

The Great Work contains five regions, mostly set underground, each with an in-game map to be found separately:


Standing at the Moon Altar, with the interaction indicator visible.

  • Desert - The location of Fulcanelli's house, where the game begins. Mostly inaccessible until later in the game.
  • Mountains - Above the desert and largely inaccessible until the player has acquired certain equipment.
  • Dew Mines - The first area of the game proper, directly below the starting point.
  • Sun Cave
  • Moon Cave

Like all other Nifflas games there are also some secret screens which exist "off the map." Hazards exist in the form of spikes and a few hostile creatures which simply cause the player to respawn at an earlier point upon contact.

Characters Edit

The game world is an anachronistic setting where several scientists and alchemists from different eras of real-world history exist together, including:


Trading items with Newton

The player can trade with them for items needed to complete quests or equipment used for accessing different areas of the world.

Guides Edit

References Edit

  1. The Great Work - Walkthrough, Guide, Review - Jay is Games, February 2, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Great Work in-game credits.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Great Work (the game) - Trailer" on the official support forums. November 22, 2010
  4. "The Great Work is released!" on the official support forums. January 28, 2013
  5. "Alchemy vs Sciences" on the official support forums. March 16, 2011

External links Edit