The inside of your phone doesn’t look like you’d imagine it to – if Backfirewall‘s interpretation of it is anything to go by, anyway.
A first-person puzzle adventure, Backfirewall puts you inside of a smart phone. You see, you’re an update assistant, and the phone’s operating system is about to upgrade to the new version. But as is often the case with system updates, it doesn’t go quite to plan. And so, your adventure starts with needing to visit the recycling bin to rescue the old OS.
Fun is the name of the game in Backfirewall. This isn’t some dry computer system simulation: the tools and apps that exist inside a regular smartphone are given faces, voices and personalities: there’s a whole world that exists in the tiny microchips inside your phone, basically. And Backfirewall brings them to life with glee.
Pinning a genre definition onto Backfirewall isn’t straightforward, as it tries to pack in a lot. You’ll be exploring and collecting random items, but you’ll also be solving puzzles and engaging in a bit of stealth. It all works together well, though, and in our time with the game it’s kept us engaged throughout. Poking around the weird and wonderful environment is enjoyable as you’re never sure what you might find. Maybe a random encrypted text message sent to the phone’s user, perhaps. Or a strange note scribbled on the wall.
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Perhaps our favourite thing about Backfirewall is how interactive everything around you is. Soon after starting the game, you’re given the ability to ‘delete’ junk. After all, a tidy system is a working system, right? And so as you explore, you’ll come across various boxes and gateways that need to be deleted out of your way. There’s something oh-so very satisfying in pointing your cursor and choosing to delete, clearing your path of any clutter. Later, you’ll get the ability to invert certain objects, moving them from the floor to the ceiling and vice versa. It’s mostly a tool for solving puzzles, but you might also find the odd interesting item by playing with it, too.
We’ve had a great time figuring out Backfirewall‘s puzzles, which come in a wide variety of forms. The first you come across are in the recycling bin room, where you need to force the system to bring up an error to purge everything out of the bin. That means checking a list of currently ‘true’ statements that you need to make false. For example, the ‘true’ statement might say 30 boxes exist within the bin. You’ll need to delete a bunch so that’s no longer true. You’ll also need to explore the area to uncover solutions to the other puzzles.
There’s nothing too taxing, but the presentation here is unique, making Backfirewall‘s puzzles feel like nothing we’ve played before. And if you do get stuck, on-board hints are available in the shape of a helpful rubber duck.
If you enjoy first-person puzzle games and quite fancy jumping into one that puts quirkiness and personality front and centre, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy in Backfirewall. With well-written and acted dialogue and plenty of engaging puzzles to work your way through, it’s a hidden gem that’s well worth seeking out.