The puzzle genre has exploded in recent times, and I think most of that stems from the popularity and influence of the iconic Portal and its sequel, Portal 2. You see, it was this which did something completely different to the norm, managing to combine some interestingly designed puzzle mechanics within the premise of an escape room set-up, all powered by an excellent story arc. This formula has since been copied by many, with the likes of The Turing Test, The Witness, and Q.U.B.E. working similar angles. Now the Faraday Protocol hopes to add itself to that roster of hall of famers games. Get your brains warmed up and let’s dive in.
Faraday Protocol is a first puzzle adventure title, one that has a whole load of story behind it, helpfully setting things up. You play the part of Raug Zeekon, a galactic archaeologist; think of a futurist Indiana Jones but without the hat and whip. You have been sent by your bosses on high to investigate a mysterious signal emanating from an ancient planet. You arrive at this mysterious place and are welcomed by a weird voice – “Welcome to Opis”. It’s here where you enter a huge building and then partake in a series of trials and tests that, over time, reveal some of the secrets of this ancient civilization. The story is intriguing and I have liked how the writers have been able to drip feed information about the narrative within the core mechanic of the game, over the course of a playthrough. I’ve also loved the framing, for what essentially is just a puzzle game.
The game takes you straight into the puzzle arena, throwing you into a room or area and leaving you to unlock the exit by performing a series of tasks and solving the puzzles within. Your hero can jump, move and interact with objects. Yet what’s quite nice is that Faraday Protocol doesn’t hold your hand or guide you that much; especially not at the beginning like a normal tutorial would. But everything seems to make sense and you are funneled along to do what the game wants you to do, all without expressing it directly.
It’s hard to describe the puzzles, but they do all manage to start in a fairly straightforward manner, moving up to more complex situations as you progress. One example of an early one is that you need to match some symbols in a room by turning switches and unlocking the exit door. But then you are given your very handy device, something which I like to call the ‘sucky gun’. It’s a gun that absorbs light from blue or orange alien statues which are dotted around the levels, letting you shoot out light to activate doors, switches, platforms, and jump pads. You only have one charge to use at a time, with the orange one powering things up and the blue one linking powered sources together. It sounds complicated when written down, but is utterly intuitive in use. It does still hit a high level of complexity though and and there will be times you find yourself scratching your head, wandering around aimlessly looking for a solution.
Faraday Protocol uses a mixture of futuristic forms and ancient Egyptian design. Statues and the colors have that black onyx style that is synonymous with the Egyptians and it is found adorning a lot of the levels on show. The futuristic stuff blends perfectly in the shape of platforms, doors, and the puzzles themselves. Visually it’s a very nice game; highly intriguing on the eyes. And that vibe works its way into the audio and soundtrack too, as they create a mysterious atmosphere, punctuated by an ever-present voice-over that will fill things in with small fragments of detail.
Faraday Protocol will take you around five hours or so to complete, but obviously that all depends on how good you are at solving puzzling games. However long it takes though, you’ll discover that the world-building, story, and whole set-up is fascinating. I’ve very much enjoyed the narrative framework the developers have created, pushing it out to what is essentially a whole series of escape rooms.
However, the price being asked for entry to Faraday Protocol does seem a little too high, and it could do with a drop in order to allow the game the chance to be more competitive. Saying that, it does deliver a high standard of gameplay and level design throughout, especially when you take into account hidden collectibles to discover in certain levels, bringing reason to go and replay certain areas. If you’re not a fan of puzzlers and hate the idea of using your brain instead of any brawn, then there isn’t going to be much for you here, but those who like to see their grey matter challenged will find that Faraday Protocol is worth a look.
Test your grey matter in Faraday Protocol on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One