Sun. Jun 16th, 2024
Faraday Protocol

Last week I mentioned that I’d been given the opportunity to play the recent release Faraday Protocol. Well, having now played it, I thought I’d share my Faraday Protocol review for Xbox Series X so you could decide whether it’s something that would interest to you. From the trailer alone, I got definite Portal vibes, seeing as it was a futuristic sci-fi puzzle based game. Having played it, there are even more references to that classic game. You navigate puzzles using a special gun known as the Bia-Tool, and you use it to move around different energy. Even the energy colours are blue and orange, just like in Portal.

However, there are definite differences, too. Faraday Protocol is by no means a rip-off, it’s its own unique game that simply draws inspiration from Portal. It has a consistent aesthetic throughout the game, as well as continuous hints as to the lore and history surrounding the mysterious buildings that you explore. I’m not sure how well it would appeal to somebody who didn’t have much experience with the puzzle genre, but for seasoned veterans, this could be the new challenge that you’re after. And if you are interested in getting it, stay tuned till the end, as I’ll be announcing giveaway details!

Story

Faraday Protocol starts out with you awaking to find yourself on a crashed spaceship. You step out into a vast wilderness with no signs of sentient life. However, nestled among the trees are these tall, golden pyramid structures. It’s a mysterious setting, and it makes you wonder about who built the pyramids, and what their purpose was. The game prompts you to go inside one, and you discover that you’re in some kind of testing facility.

From there, you undergo a series of tests, which aren’t really explained at first. There are unusual statues hidden around the testing rooms, definitely not human. The statues hint at a different race of life, with a whole lore surrounding them. As you make more progress, the story slowly unravels itself. I won’t spoil all the good bits, but I can give you a few tasty morsels.

Faraday Protocol Review Xbox Series X, the SCOM
Majestic.

The tests were designed for a race of beings known as the SCOM. It would appear the purpose was to determine who was worthy of leading their colonies. The tests require physical and mental prowess, and so would have been perfect for defining those qualities. However, what happened to the SCOM appears to be a mystery. Can you solve all the tests and discover the secrets?

Gameplay

The movement mechanics are very basic, but that’s not an issue. For the majority of this game, moving is simply something to get you from point A to point B during a puzzle, rather than serving any specific purpose in terms of the gameplay itself. As such, it doesn’t need to be perfect, which is good because it isn’t. You can’t see any part of yourself except your hands, even if you look down. This makes it quite hard to judge distance when jumping, and the platforming elements suffer as a result of this. On the plus side, you don’t take fall damage, so you can retry a jump as many times as necessary.

Platforming across stairs
Jumping across the stairs was admittedly a bit of a pain.

However, the bulk of the game is about solving puzzles, and that’s where this game excels. There are a whole range of varied challenges to complete, and it’s a fantastic feeling when you solve a particularly tricky one. It makes you feel validated, and gives you a little dose of serotonin. I’ll be talking more about the puzzles later, but there is one other element I wanted to mention first.

Hidden throughout the levels are 18 secret collectibles. These are very easy to miss, and indeed I missed most of them on my play-through. Finding them involves looking in counter-intuitive places, or solving mini puzzles unrelated to your main quest. On most levels, the main task is so complicated and overwhelming that it’s easy to forget that collectibles are even a thing. This gives the game great replayability value, as you can put effort into collecting them all.

The Bia-Tool

The Bia-Tool is Faraday Protocol’s answer to the Portal gun. This special tool allows you to manipulate the energies present in a room so as to solve puzzles. You find it in the first room of the building that you enter, and honestly I love the design. It’s very simple, yet you can achieve a whole host of things with it. Essentially it has two functions – absorbing energy and releasing energy. But there are a myriad of ways in which to use it.

The two types of energy are blue and orange. Blue is a more passive energy, and can be used to either connect energy between different objects, or to power a special type of statue. You can only ever carry it between vestibules, and you can’t release it until you find an object that accepts blue energy. Orange is a more active energy, and can be fired at will. So if you find yourself with orange energy in your Bia-tool, and you need to drop it so you can pick up blue energy, you can simply shoot the orange at the wall, and pick it back up again when you’re ready.

Faraday Protocol Review Xbox Series X, orange and blue energy
The orange and blue energies, in all their glory.

Managing the energy is as much a challenge as the puzzles themselves. Unfortunately, not being able to expel the blue energy at will can cause a problem. On one occasion, I fell off a high ledge whilst still holding blue, and couldn’t get back up as the lift required orange energy to activate. As you can only hold one type at once, I ended up restarting the level, and I’m pretty sure that was not a deliberate feature, and is instead an oversight. It’s worth noting, though, that there’s no distance limit on transferring energy. If you can see it, you can use it.

The Puzzles

So, you may be a little confused about the purpose of the energy, so let me clarify. The energy is used to activate various elements within the testing rooms, and this is what the puzzles are based around. It starts very simple. You can move energy from one statue to another, and doing so can activate things like doors, lifts, and stairs which are next to the statue. However, once you’ve become used to the way the Bia-Tool works, the puzzles become more complex.

Connecting chains of energy
This particular puzzle involved having to connect multiple chains of energy.

Sometimes statues may be connected to each other, so you can fire energy when inside a locked door to transfer it to the outside and vice versa. Or you can convert energy between orange and blue. There are also barriers that will not allow you to pass when holding orange/ blue energy. This can be frustrating when you want to pass through a room, but invaluable when the barrier is horizontal, as you can use it as a bridge. With blue energy, you can attach an energy source to an input on a nearby object. You may sometimes need multiple sources of blue energy to form a chain.

There are also buttons you can press which don’t require energy, which might activate a new component. Using all your skills in combination with each other is the only way to pass the tests, and you’ll often find yourself retracing your steps. One of my favourite elements are these whirlwind things that repel you when you jump on them with the matching coloured energy. So the height you jump from corresponds to the height you bounce back. It reminds me of forming those infinite momentum tunnels in Portal. “Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out”.

Faraday Protocol, using energy and momentum to jump off whirlwinds.
Orange thing go boing.

Graphics and Audio

This game has a delightfully elegant colour scheme. It’s primarily black and gold, with the only real other sources of colour coming from the energy that you move about. There are also green and red lights which indicate whether an element is active or not, but that just adds to the futuristic theme. I normally prefer more colourful games, but honestly it’s done really well here. They also went all out at the start to build a realistic forest setting to trek through on your way to the pyramids. I was most impressed by the animations, as the trees and grass responded realistically to your movements.

The art style is generally minimalistic, but it works. The game is futuristic, and so the sterile environment of the testing facilities lends itself to a lack of details. The assets that we do get are crisp and well-made, so I have no complaints on that front. The lighting throughout is great, and you can tell that they put a lot of care and effort into it. Honestly, although it’s nothing special, the visuals in this game are exactly what they ought to be.

Faraday Protocol Review Xbox Series X, pyramid structure.
The structure looks so grand in amongst the trees.

The only downside on the audio/ visual front is the voice acting. It ranges from okay to pretty poor. It’s not too much of an issue as this isn’t a particularly story-heavy game, but it is a bit disappointing. I can’t say for sure, but it feels like instead of hiring professional voice actors, they just got their development team to put the voices in. The spaceship and protagonist both sound quite monotone and somewhat unclear. Thankfully the voice we hear the most is that of the robot running the testing, and whilst it’s not amazing, the acting is fine there.

Faraday Protocol Review for Xbox Series X: Overall

On the whole, I’m very impressed with this debut game by Red Koi Box. They’ve done a great job of creating an intelligent and finely tuned puzzle game that offers a healthy level of challenge without being impossible. There’s nothing particularly exciting about it, and if you prefer fast-paced games, then this isn’t for you. However, if you can appreciate a decent puzzle, and enjoy games that stimulate your brain, then you should check it out!

If you’re interested in playing for yourself, then I have good news! For December’s monthly giveaway, I will be doing a giveaway of a copy of Faraday Protocol, so keep your eyes on the website. I’ll hopefully be posting the full giveaway details on December 1st 2021. In the meantime, why not enter the current giveaway for Aragami?

Do you enjoy puzzle games? What are some of your favourites? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community!

Faraday Protocol

£20.99
8

Verdict

8.0/10

Pros

  • Elegant black and gold colour scheme
  • Challenging puzzles that test your brain
  • Great range of elements to interact with

Cons

  • Voice acting isn't very good
  • Platforming isn't as smooth as it should be
  • Can get a little repetitive in some levels

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)