firmament-evaluation
NEED TO KNOW

What’s it? A primary-person puzzle journey from the makers of Myst.
Anticipate to pay TBC
Developer Cyan Worlds Inc
Writer In-house
Reviewed on Nvidia 2080 Ti, Intel i9-9900k @ 4.9ghz, 32gb RAM
Multiplayer No
Steam Deck Verified
Hyperlink Official site

My mind has by no means fairly agreed with how Cyan Worlds design their journey video games, primarily the long-lasting Myst sequence. A lot as I’ve loved exploring their unusual puzzle-filled alien worlds, I nonetheless have flashbacks to fumbling round Teledhan in Uru: Ages Past Myst, losing hours poking unusual machines that have been clearly doing one thing I couldn’t intuit. It was with some trepidation that I dove into Firmament, however what I bought was an easy-going, graphically gorgeous journey that might truly stand to be just a little more durable.

Firmament is a straightforward place for Cyan newbies to start out. Whereas thematically just like the Myst sequence (a lonely puzzle journey by means of a sequence of otherworldly environments), Firmament has its personal setting and canon, though you’ll be left at nighttime on the specifics till its remaining sequences. You’ve woken up in a luxurious steampunk sarcophagus, and a wistful-sounding French ghost girl says you’re a “Keeper of the Realms”.

Seems like a number of stress, nevertheless it’s truly a fairly chill job. Le ghost says you’ll want to search out your method round with the assistance of the Adjunct, a chunky extendable gauntlet that acts as almost your sole methodology of interacting with the worlds as you wander.

They’re attractive worlds at that. As with Myst, it set me free on a central hub space and three miniature “realms”: Curievale and its colossal ice quarry; Juleston and its lake-sized acid batteries fueled by sulfur mines; and my private favourite, the plush, overgrown St. Andrew. Every surroundings seems like a single art-deco/steampunk megastructure nestled into nature, full of machines all working in the direction of a single finish aim. They’re gorgeous and evocative, metallic monuments to erudition and business.

As is my expertise of Cyan’s adventures, my ghostly mentor wasn’t a lot assistance on the puzzle-solving entrance, however she sometimes chipped in with commentary on the environments and her private laments whereas fastidiously avoiding express exposition. A superb voice efficiency made me glad to have her alongside for the trip. Firmament is a game carried extra by vibes than narrative, and it’s straightforward to deal with these as her narration was nearly the one human voice heard in the entire journey. The wind, thundering equipment, and brooding, ominous synth soundtrack are your solely different companions.

(Picture credit score: Cyan Worlds Inc)

It’s by no means a thriller as to when it is puzzle time: there’s no stock administration or pixel looking in Firmament, simply manipulating large steampunk machines with the Adjunct gauntlet. Level it in the direction of something interactive (clockwork sockets highlighted with blue paint) to tether your extending laser-cable to it, then begin fiddling. Every machine is managed just by twisting your Adjunct left or right (bodily in VR, or Q & E on desktop) to regulate one linear operate, whether or not it’s a door opening and shutting, elevator rising or falling or one thing extra esoteric.

Extra advanced machines allow you to decide extra interactions with the mousewheel. The interface on an enormous quarry crane allows you to cycle between three modes; moving the arm ahead/again, up/down, and increasing/retracting the grabber, all carried out with simply two buttons and the mousewheel. Easy and intuitive, difficult solely by a few unlockable skills given on the midpoint of every of the three realms. One extends the vary of the Adjunct, one allows you to bounce your interface to targets out of direct attain, and one unlocks a handful of professional quality locks discovered afterward.

(Picture credit score: Cyan Worlds Inc)

I puzzled my method by means of the complete journey in just a little beneath 10 hours with solely a pair snags. Certainly one of Cyan’s acknowledged targets with Firmament was to create a grounded, coherent setting, and it succeeded perhaps too effectively. Each machine feels prefer it may very well be an actual system and has a logical objective tying into the overarching quest. Intuitive, however limiting for puzzles.

The Witness by no means needed to give believable mechanical context to its line-drawing challenges, and Resident Evil’s weird puzzle mechanisms are handwaved as being the work of eccentric architects and mad scientists. Firmament has no such excuse to fall again on. For the primary time ever, I wanted {that a} point-and-click journey’s puzzles had been extra difficult and obtuse. A pair have been real brain-teasers (like one involving connecting circuit terminals in a large acid-bath battery meeting, and one other involving navigating a multi-car prepare by means of horizontal and vertical house), however a number of felt perfunctory, simply utilizing my Adjunct to chain collectively the precise contact factors inside a single room. The puzzles I loved least have been three-dimensional scavenger hunts where the answer was easy, however required wiggling round to get the precise line-of-sight to the following interplay level in some awkward spot.

(Picture credit score: Cyan Worlds Inc)

These puzzles really feel just a little extra intuitive in VR mode, one other space where Firmament’s laudable ambitions fall just a little wanting their potential. Even at decrease graphics settings, Firmament’s realms are attractive to behold and discover, and the sheer scale of the constructions turns into all of the clearer in VR. The Adjunct additionally feels just a little extra pure as a VR management methodology, pointing and clicking on distant units and interacting with a single button press or a twist of the wrist, with out requiring an excessive amount of precision.

Firmament’s VR-friendly design additionally makes it deathly nonetheless. The one bodily moveable objects I discovered have been a handful of books (which might clip by means of tables simply in VR), making it really feel like a pre-rendered backdrop at instances. It suits the lineage, however not a lot the gauntlet that exists purely to work together with the world.

(Picture credit score: Cyan Worlds Inc)

I generally got here to a jarring cease whereas strolling round, trying right down to discover a hole of simply an inch or two stopping my progress. Different instances my character would simply step throughout the same crack. Some puzzles let me connect my Adjunct by means of strong partitions, and the acid-battery puzzle permits its rotating bridges to clip by means of one another in significantly ugly vogue. I solely point out these blemishes as a result of they’re distracting flaws in an in any other case stellar presentation. Firmament’s Realms are picturesque and eminently screenshot-friendly.

I loved my time with Firmament, maybe extra as a piece of otherworldly tourism than a difficult puzzle game. Between a thinly unfold story and solely a handful of genuinely juicy puzzles, it relied on its environments and environment to carry my consideration, and it completely did. However outdoors of the imagery and scope of its megalithic sci-fi constructions, I don’t assume Firmament leaves a lot of an impression. It is a good stroll, however nobody’s going to be making a sequel to Pyst off the again of it.