By Scott C.
Heads up video game puzzle enthusiasts, there is a new deep space sci-fi game to check out that will challenge you to no end. Filament, a single-player, top-view indie PC game is set on a spaceship called The Alabaster, will blast you off to another galaxy with over 300 puzzles to solve. This game, which was developed by Beard Envy and published by Kasedo Games, will test a player’s problem-solving skills, thanks to its challenging puzzles. Yet should a non-puzzle enthusiast play this game?
Before answering that one question, the game itself is about you, the gamer, controlling an in-game astronaut-like character tasked with the mission of solving the mystery of ‘what the heck happened’ on The Alabaster. Once onboard, players will notice that the spaceship is a total ghost town, and the crew is nowhere to be found, until you randomly hear a female voice calling you through a communicator out of nowhere. This person is stuck in the ship’s cockpit. The voice has a name and it is Juniper, who will be your tour guide throughout Filament. She needs you to access a number of terminals on the spaceship, which allows access to the game’s puzzle mechanics. The game does not take long to figure out: you simply press a few buttons to get going. Gamers control a small robot inside every control panel, with a lighted rope connected to it, to help solve puzzles.
The lighted rope must come into contact with a pillar to light it up, and once a puzzle is solved, a door opens up. At first, the puzzle rooms are quite easy to beat as the game wants you to get familiar with the puzzle mechanics. After that, the difficulty goes up, way up!
That’s due to the game’s added layers of puzzle difficulty. For example, gamers will encounter black pillars in a room (which will turn off your rope), as well as colored ones, with a variety of other obstructions that will hinder your progression. I believe this is a positive, as it keeps the game fresh. Do note that this will lead to more playing time when solving a puzzle, although solving one feels so satisfying, and there are no hints to help you solve a puzzle. It would have been nice to have some small hints to get you going. Regardless, I do not recommend looking for online guides, as that will defeat the purpose of having fun and feeling satisfied after solving a hard puzzle. The game’s overall goal is to get your brain going, and with so many people under stay-at-home orders lately to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, this game will help keep the brain sharp and combat boredom.
I did, however, have some problems with my lighted rope not properly turning on a pillar a few times, even though both were in contact with each other, before rewinding my progress. The load times for key cards to pop up on the screen is too sluggish for my liking, which can make the game feel somewhat clunky at those particular moments. Luckily, none of these minor issues prevented me from enjoying the game, but they were somewhat annoying, enough that I hope that these problems get fixed soon in a patch, if they have not already.
The game itself does not have a ‘failed’ screen if a puzzle is too difficult to solve. When a player needs to go back on a puzzle, they can simply hit a button to ‘rewind’ their progression or to ‘reset’ the level itself. Players won’t lose their progress, which I appreciate. Lastly, if players want to explore The Alabaster, they can do so by moving through the spaceship before tackling any puzzle. The game actually encourages players to do so, in order to learn more about the spaceship’s past.
The game’s colorful and cartoonish graphics are delightful, which makes the environments so enjoyable to look at during gaming sessions. Speaking of the graphics, Filament is not a demanding game from a graphics perspective, so simply having an adequate gaming PC is enough for it to play without issues.
The soundtrack is also lovely, but know that the game only has so many songs in it, which means the soundtrack repeats itself a lot. Players might get tired of it rather quickly because of that, but I certainly did not. The in-game story is fine, as well as the voice work, yet it is the game’s challenging puzzles that grabbed my attention most, rather than the plot, which I won’t totally spoil here. Regardless, the game would sometimes remind me of Valve’s Portal video game series, which I still enjoy to this day, during particular moments or with a few in-game designs.
Overall, problem-solving in Filament was tremendously fun, which means that, I do believe that non-puzzle fans can play and enjoy the game. The puzzles are terrific and challenging, but the game itself is easy to pick up thanks to its simplistic system. Players will need to invest many hours to truly become a puzzle-solving master, the puzzles will test your patience, so plan accordingly to fully enjoy the ride. My experience with Filament was a favorable one, so I think that many others will enjoy solving its many puzzles.
Filament is available on PC and Linux via Steam for $16.99. The Marmalade Edition (which includes the game, the soundtrack, and a deluxe edition exclusive artbook called the Marmalade’s Sketchbook) is $19.99.
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