Faraday Protocol Review (PS4)
Well, guess I live here now.
In Faraday Protocol, you step into the shoes of an archaeologist named Raug who was sent to a mysterious planet. He was sent here by his employer to investigate a signal that they were picking up. Of course, it looks like they didn’t really take it that seriously as they only sent you and not a team (well, unless they . Luckily, the arrival scan didn’t pick up any sentient beings, so at least you won’t have to worry about getting attacked. As you get off your spaceship and explore, you come across a couple of structures as well as an AI that scans you before letting you proceed. While most of these strange buildings, which seem to be modeled after Egyptian design (with a futuristic spin), there is one that you can enter. And well, when you do you find yourself solving a whole bunch of puzzles.
The puzzles are very much the focus here, so you get sprinklings of story here and there by Raug’s audio logs that he records every so often and when the AI running Opis talks to you. Don’t worry though as there is enough here to make you wonder what exactly Opis was used for, why it was built, why it’s now abandoned, and why it was calling out for someone to come along and investigate.
This is a puzzle platformer, so you’ll be doing a lot of puzzles witht he platforming being light. The levels here aren’t set up in a way that each one is just one puzzle, but it’s more set up like a group of puzzles wrapped together, and often related to each other, as a test. This is due to you learning that Opis was used to test people, what for you don’t exactly know yet but Raug is curious enough to find out. Each “Test” is essentially one of those situations where one step in a recipe is in reality around seven steps.
There are basically three base puzzle types linking to the mechanics, which is built up upon as you progress through the game. The first is the platforming, which is pretty light here, as every so often the game will call for you to jump between platforms that will drop after a couple seconds to reach other platforms that you need to go to or buttons that you need to press. One of the more common puzzles you’ll find, though, is one where there are four symbols on this wheel and you have to spin it to match the symbols on doors or on the wall to open up, well, the wall or the door. At first, you start with one symbol wheel that will open doors linked to the different symbols, but it soon evolves to having multiple ones to deal with (having to set multiple wheels to match what’s on the wall) and soon have these wheels linked so moving one will move another, and having the symbols put on the wall puzzle area (having the wheel as a way to transfer them to the wall displays) and having to switch them around the spots to match what’s on the wall.
And lastly, the other main puzzle you’ll come across is in relation to the energy transfer gun you find early on called the Bia-Tool. There are two different energy types you’ll come across, red energy that seems to be a power source and blue energy that is used as a link between the powered idols (as there are idols that you can store the red and blue energies). It starts with just you absorbing the red energy with the Bia-Tool, showing you that you can only hold one at a time, and transferring it to do things like opening doors, activating stairs, and activating the moving platforms. But as you continue, these become more tricky and you’re soon introduced to blue energy so you can link circuits, energy fields that will block you if you have the corresponding energy, linked red and blue idols that will convert the energy if needed, energy jump pads that will only work if you have the corresponding energy, and these energy pushing things that will push the energy in the direction they’re facing so they can (hopefully) land on a energy storing idol and this opening up the door. These aspects that eventually gets introduced made for some engaging puzzles, and while some are a bit tiring, I couldn’t stop playing as I just had to solve the next Test.
I do have to say that while each Test holds multiple puzzles for you to do, they are all related and feed into each other. Once you survey the area, you have to decide what you need to do first and how to get the energy you need there. But once you solve those, it starts a whole domino effect where you know where you need to go next and can finally solve that puzzle you saw when first entering the test area.
There are also collectibles that you can find. Well, not so much find, but find the well hidden buttons that will open up a secret compartment containing a trinket related to Opis. These are hidden pretty well, I was only able to find 3/18 collectibles, and if you want to hunt for them all there is a level select so you can jump into any of them without having to replay everything before it.
In terms of puzzle difficulty, I think it was handled well here. It starts out as easy and it builds up to giving you some tricky puzzles, with some easy ones thrown in every now and then towards the end. It does a good job in introducing you to the base mechanics and introducing you the new ones when it feels that you should be used to it by now. It also does a good job in introducing the other aspects that then build onto these base mechanics, giving you an easy puzzle so you can figure it out and see how it exactly works, before you’re put into the next one that is trickier. Even though this doesn’t tell you what’s new, other than what button to press, I had no problem figuring out the new mechanic. All I had to do is figure out how to apply it, and the other mechanics I learned before, to solve the next Test. The only times I did get stuck was when I didn’t notice a vital set piece that would solve my problem (in which I got a bit embarrassed as how could I have missed that) or when going up against a certain puzzle type that I’m not that strong in anyway.
I have also heard problems on the platforming and anything that had a time limit being too fast before, but since then there has been a quality of life update (which the console versions launched with). While I can’t say how it feels now vs before the update, I had no troubles with me running out of time on the time sensitive puzzles (even when aiming with a controller). I did have slight problems with platforming, but I feel it was mainly because I had the instinct of trying to move while being pushed up even though a platform raises you and not like air.
Other than that, Faraday Protocol performs well on the PS4. The only times the performance dropped was when it was loading up the bigger test areas.
I’d say if you’re in the mood for a first person puzzle game, with some platforming, and find the trailer or any gameplay footage interesting (like I did), Faraday Protocol is a good choice to pick. It did feel a bit short to me as I did complete it in one sitting, but this does depend on how well you’re doing solving these puzzles and how much you get stuck. But don’t get me wrong as I do think the length was a good choice, it stopped right when I was getting sick of the symbol wheel matching puzzle, and it does a good job on building on and teaching you its mechanics. I did also like the mystery, even though it wasn’t really the focus.