Backfirewall_ was revealed during the PC Gaming Show. It featured quite a goofy trailer. The game is developed by Navaren Games and is published by All in! Games. The game is scheduled for release in 2022.
The game is being called a “tragic comedy” by the developers of the game. The world of the game is set inside a smartphone where you, the player, are playing the role of an update assistant. The smartphone has received the update of OS10 and your task technically is to facilitate the update smoothly, but then you meet OS9.
OS9 is the main narrator or guide of the game for the player. He is the existing software on the smartphone. When you start the game, he greets you and fills you in on the basics of the game. The game comes under the puzzle genre and does offer some quite challenging puzzles.
There are different levels where you proceed after clearing the previous one. The puzzles are task and world-based based where you have to do a little bit of exploration on the levels to get to the right answer and complete the puzzles.
There is a demo available to play for the game on Steam. I tried the demo, and here’s my review of the game and what I expect from it on the full release:
A Familiar as well as Unique Concept
The concept of the game being a good old puzzle-solving game based in a different world where the player has to solve puzzles in levels in order to progress is quite old and repetitive, but Navaren Games have done a good job of breathing new life into this concept.
The sole idea of creating a world inside a smartphone is unique in itself and very challenging as well, because of all the technical terms that a person needs to know to properly understand the workings inside a smartphone. Navaren Games not only tackled this challenge, but they also did it gracefully.
After playing the game, I came to realise that even if I didn’t know the terminology of binary codes, file extensions, or different hardware and software units, I would have enjoyed the game.
The Visuals create a nostalgic feeling.
The visuals in the game aren’t super high-end, cutting-edge graphics or something like that found in the likes of Red Dead Redemption or Elden Ring. In fact, it can be considered quite childish and poor by many players, but those same childish visuals play an important role in setting the atmosphere of the game.
The game’s visuals give off that cartoonish vibe very similar to that of Disney Pixar’s Toy Story. Where you don’t care about the graphics or environmental detail, but just enjoy the story that is being told and let the child inside you enjoy the game the most. The graphics aren’t super bad, they are decent and compliment the story and aesthetics of the game quite well.
It’s Toy Story All Over Again!
As said before, the game gives out very strong Disney Pixar’s Toy Story energy and the story of the game and the change in the objective of the main character who the player plays in the game also support it.
You come into the game as an update assistant, but after meeting OS9, the existing software, and knowing that updating will erase, or in other words, kill him, you decide to stop the update and save him from erasure, and save yourself as well because the updating system will erase you as well.
The developers did say they wanted to make the players feel like they were in a Disney Pixar movie, and I have to say they really did succeed in making that happen. All the people who loved Toy Story or similar movies should surely give the game a try, as I am sure they will love it.
OS9 – The Perfect OS!
The OS9 is introduced to players as the existing software on the smartphone. He greets the players and explains to them about the smartphone world and how things work there. OS9 can be called the narrator for the game as well as the guide for the players. He is the one who assigns the players tasks on levels and guides them towards the exits leading to higher levels.
The most attractive features of OS9 are his sense of humour and characterisation. OS9 is portrayed as a comical yet a bit bossy character by the players. His jokes are laughable, and he does a really great job at landing them.
Adding humour to the character is a good decision as it creates a bond between the player and the NPC and after all, the game is all about saving this particular NPC’s life. The voice actor for OS9 did an amazing job of bringing life to the character.
The jokes come as a relief to the frustrated mind when the player is unable to solve a puzzle or is stuck in a level. It helps refresh the mind and to try again.
If the game scenario was true, I would never have updated my smartphone until it was bricked and dead because, after all, OS9 asks for a Data-Coffee! That is enough for me to keep an OS forever.
The Unexpected Twist
When you start the game, you are greeted by OS9 and everything goes smoothly. He explains to you about the world and fills you in on the basics, and urges you not to start the update as it would erase him. As a user of smartphones, we don’t care for the old OS and rush into the new update. Almost a majority of us do it.
OS9 tries to persuade you not to update, but then he starts the update protocol by accident. You then proceed through the update protocol, where you solve small and easy puzzles to clear the path and learn some technical knowledge about bytes, caches, and codes while clearing them.
After completing all the tasks, you reach the terminal window where you have to finalise the update. You have to do so. But after starting the finalization, you come to know that you’ll also be erased with OS9!
This twist was unexpected to me. I mean, I did expect some kinds of ways the developers would come up with the reason to save OS9, but I didn’t expect them to come up with a survival reason where you have to save yourself also. When he begins the update protocol, his body loses control, so he guides you with his voice and an eye icon, which is his signature mark.
The puzzle solving in the game requires you to complete tasks, which will be shown in a terminal window at the start of the stage. The window will be available for the entirety of the stage, but the tasks listed on it are not straightforward. They have a little riddle-like phrasing, which makes it a bit off to get the first time.
After understanding the tasks, you need to explore the levels in order to find the puzzles and solve them. The puzzles are hard. Not all of them, but some of them are hard and require multiple readings of the task riddles.
Luckily, there is a Rubber in each level which answers your queries or, in other words, gives you hints on how to solve the puzzles or find them in the first place. Overall, the puzzles are of intermediate difficulty, but finding them can be hard.
Great Music and a Small Drawback
The game has great music as well. The background music played in the levels is quite fun to listen to if ever OS9 stops talking and you can listen to it. The composers did a really good job of composing upbeat music that makes you a little excited about playing the next level.
No game is perfect, and that applies to this one too. Backfirewall has its own set of drawbacks. First, the developers did a good job of giving the information necessary to the players at the start of the game, but the game does require basic technical knowledge before playing it.
You can play the game without it, but having a basic understanding of bytes, terminal windows, and binary language will enhance your experience and, more importantly, will enable you to understand more jokes made by OS9.
Talking about the jokes, the second drawback would be the jokes and humour done by OS9. OS9 is the main narrator of the game and is very good at his job, but some of the jokes he makes can get past many players’ heads without getting a laugh, but then again, it’s an operating system making jokes, and that’s enough in itself.
Here is my review of the game Backfirewall, developed by Naraven Games. The demo of the game was overall very good and really enjoyable. I expect the full game to be more fun and full of even more surprises and jokes.
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