Filament A Challenging Puzzle Game With Rich Backstory - Review

The Alabaster Viewing Ports

I'm always on the look out for new indie games, particularly when they let me branch out from the typical management/tycoon bubble I often find myself in.  Released on April 23rd 2020 by Beard Envy and published by Kasedo Games and Maple Whispering Limited (who have brought a great range of indie games to us), the game has been in my library for a while and on my wishlist for even longer.  Filament is a story-driven puzzler set on board the research vessel Alabaster.  With the ship locked down and the crew missing, it's your job to regain control of the ship and discover what happened to the crew.

The game starts with a cutscene of your arrival at the Alabaster.  As you walk from your small ship toward the larger one, you get your first 'puzzle' which introduces the core mechanic at the base level.  To solve each of the puzzles you have to make your way to the door of a room.  Sounds simple, however you are dragging a lit wire, or filament if you will, along with you.  You will need to wind this around the room creating connections with a number of white blocks to create a connection and open the door.

Filament Level 1
The first 'puzzle' where you simply wrap your wire to unlock the door
After completing the first few puzzles you will find out that there is one entity on the ship, Juniper, however they are stranded in the cockpit.  They will introduce you to Anchors.  These are large structures located in the ship which control various things such as doors in the ship and allow you to unlock new areas to explore or power up additional anchors.  Each anchor will require you to solve 5 puzzles in order to reset it, although you can return to the ship after any of these and your progress with be saved.  

Whilst completing the puzzles the game does give you a couple of useful things to help out.  Whilst these aren't hints, there are walkthroughs and solutions available online if you wish, they will help you out.  In addition to Return To Ship which allows you to back out of the puzzles, these tools are Rewind, Restart Level and Focus Level.  The first of these allows you to backtrack through the puzzle if you have gone wrong somewhere without having to start the level from scratch.  This is extremely useful in some of the larger levels where you may only want to go back two or three points in the puzzle.  The second, unsurprisingly, allows you to reset the level and try again and the last one allows you to zoom into a top down view of the room to see the various walls, connection points and obstacles in the room.

Filament Puzzle with level focus
Using the Focus Level tool to get an overview of the room

As I mentioned, to solve puzzles you must trail a wire round the room, connecting with white blocks around the room.  You need to think ahead slightly as once you have passed along a route, you will be unable to cross that again due to the wire.  This can lead to utter frustration when you think you have solved a level to suddenly realise you have blocked off your access to the door, or worse that there isn't enough space between a wall and the wire for you to walk.  In some of the Anchors, the puzzles will be of this basic setup, however in others you will have to contend with purple blocks which will break the connection through your wire, blocks which need to be connected in a specific order or puzzles with different coloured blocks, which will change the colour of your light, you can then only connect this to another block of the same colour to return it to white and many other variations to discover. 

Whilst the meat of the game is solving the puzzles, a lot of the fun comes from the various hidden items and story.  After completing each Anchor, Juniper will share a brief insight into the back story of the Alabaster.  You will also discover computer passwords which allow you to log in to computers in the ship to piece together the events of the ship, from weekly games nights to the ships cat having kittens, you will learn about the crew and the events which led to where you are now.

Filament Vermillions Computer Log On
Accessing Vermillion's computer account the read their messages
Filament is a game which has been sitting in my library gathering dust, and on my wishlist for even longer.  I don't know why I didn't play more of this months ago when I first dipped my toes into it but I am glad that I've delved into it.  The game is more than a simple puzzler with puzzles ranging from extremely obvious to downright frustrating, but with the way the game is laid out you can always leave a puzzle and return to it later.  With 300 puzzles to solve, logs and messages to read, items to discover and a story to unravel the game proves more than worth the £14.99 asking price (£16.99 if you also want to by the gorgeous soundtrack).

Unpowered Anchor Filament
Showing an unpowered anchor in the right of the room, whilst the anchor in the left can be accessed to solve puzzles
Powered Anchor Filament
Now that the Anchor on the left is complete, the Anchor on the right is now powered and available for access
Filament Tricky Puzzle
The puzzles are starting to get more tricky with no apparent route round the room
Filament Wall In Way
What looks to be a problem with a wall which will block all attempts to pass the blocks in the top half of the level
Filament Open Wall
However, connecting through specific block causes hidden doorways to open within the walls
Filament Blocked Path
Having gone wrong somewhere in the puzzle I have managed to block my path
Filament LEvel In Progress
Working out where to go next to allow access to the door and the remaining blocks
Filament Coloured Blocks
A level containing orange and blue blocks. These will change the colour of your filament meaning you need to connect two of the same colour before moving onto another
Filament Dependancy Puzzle
In this puzzle the block I have approached is not powered and breaks the circuit on the filament
Filament Dependancy Puzzle Solved
Connecting the blocks in the opposite order, observing the directional marking on the flow, allows the door to be unlocked
Filament Dependancy Puzzle 3
A puzzle where blocks are dependant on others being connected first. Use the arrows to plan your route
Filament Solved Puzzle
Having completed the relevant tasks, the door is now unlocked to allow progression
Filament is available now on Steam and GOG at £14.99/$16.99/€16.99 (prices on GOG may vary slightly due to regional pricing policies).

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Filament A Challenging Puzzle Game With Rich Backstory - Review Filament A Challenging Puzzle Game With Rich Backstory - Review Reviewed by Parcival on September 25, 2020 Rating: 5

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