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Firmament – Review

Cyan Ventures have built up an excellent reputation as a creator of puzzle-adventure games. Usually mixing in FMV (although not this time), you’ll explore fascinating worlds in the first person perspective to solve puzzles and complete a story. Firmament was designed to be played as both VR and desktop and promised to be one of the longer games Cyan has created. That might be the case but it certainly feels like it could have used another 3 months in the oven.

This magical plug socket gets you out of all kinds of puzzles. It does feel a little samey at times.

Firmament sees you play as a character awoken from a deep sleep by a ghost. She is determined to get you to follow in her footsteps to continue keeping the world around you afloat and active. Everyone else has vanished and its up to you to sort them out. The vibe is similar to Everyone’s Gone To The Rapture initially although the story is somewhat different. What this means for you is that you’ll be moving between three realms with distinct settings, weather and puzzle styles through a central hub that becomes its own level too. It also means you’ll get the abjunct – the key to all your puzzle needs.

Every puzzle or interaction is done through the adjunct. It works like an electrical key that tethers to machine ports, door locks and contraptions to bring up a contextual menu. You’ll be able turn things on and off or move them and plenty of devices have multiple modes to switch between. This means every puzzle is solved this way and that has a plus and a minus. Firstly, you are never too far away from plugging into something so you aren’t too far away from a step towards a solution. The problem is that by ensuring every puzzle is solved using the same move, it makes things feel stale faster. Yes, you are toggling switching to do different things in each puzzle, but you are still pressing the exact same buttons. This trade of repetition for ease of use I felt became more apparent as I got more annoyed at watching the same animation again and again – especially opening doors. I felt like it slowed down the gameplay like a flash animation on an old school website homepage.

Firmament looks absolutely stunning in some locations – especially The Swan, your central hub.

On the positive – puzzles did feel largely intuitive and their solutions were not so point n click obtuse that you’d have to try everything and hope for the best. It’s clear the team have years of experience with this and that translates across the environments. They are absolutely gorgeous and the way Firmament provides vistas to show you where you are in each realm really provides immersion and progress satisfaction. I did find myself just enjoying being in the world, no matter how non-interaction everything outside a few books or notes are. It felt dead but steeped in mystery and Cyan does that exceptionally well.

Here comes the big ‘but’. My playthrough of Firmament was riddled with bugs. To Cyan’s credit, many have been fixed but many still persist. Save states corrupt, the game soft and hard locks. The adjunct gets confused and stuck. Transitions between worlds sometimes get stuck and you have reload saves. I got stuck in environments. Music and voice acting didn’t trigger at all, causing me to miss entire chunks of plot. I felt like I had to wrestle Firmament to the ground to play it and that was not a nice experience. In the end I stopped playing. I have since gone back and each time a patch rolls out, the game is much improved. I just feel like a 3 month delay and some bug testing would have prevented such a rough launch.

The world building is excellent, showing lots of routes or ways to branch off to puzzle solve without hemming you in too much.

Ultimately, I’d recommend picking up Firmament if you are a puzzle-adventure gamer from September 2023 onwards. By then I’d imagine most bugs will be well and truly fixed. Whilst I enjoyed the world building and the fact the puzzles made you think without being silly, I must admit that I prefer Obduction. That felt more cohesive and certainly more polished on launch.

PC version tested and provided by publisher for review.

Final Thoughts
A decent puzzle-adventure game that brings 90's styled first person brain scratchers but adds in very 2023 styled rush release bugs too. Pick it up in a few months time.
Excellent world building and atmosphere.
Puzzles feel satisfying and not too obtuse.
Story is a slow burn but will work for those who want a slowly unravelling mystery.
Desktop and VR available, although the VR is quite rudimentary.
Absolutely riddled with bugs and issues that hamper your progress.
Having the same tool to solve every puzzle starts to make you wish for a change up and also a shorter animation sequence for it.

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