Faraday Protocol – Xbox Review

Faraday Protocol – Xbox Review
Lord Crocosquirrel
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Genre: 3D  first-person puzzle
Developer: Red Koi Box
Publisher: Deck13 Spotlight
Release Date: 8/12/2021
Edited by AlexKnight2005

Most folks today have heard of the Faraday Cage, capacitors, and all other manner of electronic devices made possible by scientist Michael Faraday, largely responsible for a number of the terms we use in electronics and chemistry.

As a game, Faraday Protocol takes his work and turns it up to eleven. Faraday Protocol involves a bit of walking, with a large number of puzzles packed into two giant ziggurats that you’ll have to traverse in order to see the story. You play the role of a deep-voiced explorer that’s been sent to investigate a space-borne object. After some work (and a quick puzzle), you find yourself in the first ziggurat. Then the tutorializing begins. They won’t explain much to you, but they give you a weapon…

Or not? The device (that looks very much like a gun) is intended to pull energy from one place and discharge it to another. There are no enemies, only test chamber puzzles. You’ll get a few audio logs and some sort of drone that gives you instructions all the way to the very end. Yes, the drone in question will assume that you’re a recruit, a foreign concept to our erstwhile explorer.
There are two types of gameplay and two energy types to play with. The first is walking and solving puzzles without the device. It’s pretty straightforward stuff. In the other, you have the device and have to work the two different types of energy in order to make everything work.

One type of energy makes things go. If it’s in the right spot, it’ll power other things. The other connects things with the power to other things that don’t in a chainlike structure. With the correct statues, you can move power around walls and even exchange one type for the other. That said, there are times you’re not going to see how to do things. When that happens, think in three dimensions. Your device can do its job at a significant range. Getting power out of a locked room is, in fact, possible. Never mind finding the right plaques to match the colored lights on the wall, tumbler puzzles, and so forth. The list goes on, and that’s without getting into finding all the collectibles.

Graphically, the game is blandish, with too much same-ness in the textures—lots of shiny black and gold all around. When you look deeper, there are lights to tell you what’s currently working, various collectibles through the entire game, and it’s not going to stress out your Xbox One too much. Add to that a smallish download size, and you’re ready to go in an hour even without great internet.

The soundscape consists primarily of small touches to give you an idea that things are happening, but not always what. Despite all the brightness of your surroundings, the soundscape makes the place feel like a tomb. There is music playing in the background, under the omnipresent hum of power generators, almost like a requiem mass in the far distance. The focus on the environment over music here reinforces the impression of a being deep in the bowels of a mausoleum on an orbiting station or starship. The semi-functional relic of a lost civilization in some out-of-the-way place feels creepy. If that’s what the devs were going for, they got it right.

As for the controls, they’re about what you’d expect with just a controller. Precision aiming can be a chore with the right thumbstick and left me wishing I had a mouse. Jumping was also a pain, especially in puzzles where timing was everything. Use the mouse to turn and the spacebar to jump, like all good FPS and 3D puzzle games.

There’s a lot good about Faraday Protocol: It’s a bit on the short side, clocking in at about two hours IF you know what you’re doing. The gameplay and story are linear, with two possible endings after a twist that you saw coming, but not the way in which it unfolds. The exposition dump at the end provides all the background that led up to where we are now but leaves things open for more if the player wants to. If you do both endings, expect to spend six hours or so finding everything and watching the alternate ending. What you make of that is up to you.

In the end, Faraday Protocol is an above-average game of its type, a bit easy in spots and definitely not so much in others. If you’re a glutton for punishment, Faraday Protocol is a solid afternoon’s brain melt. Evocative soundscape meets a more primitive environment in a way that melds well rather than being jarring. It works well but probably won’t find a place among the greatest games in this niche.

Pros:

  • Soundscape gives a creepy vibe without being terrifying
  • Unusual mechanics that call back to the game’s namesake
  • Minimal tutorial
  • It does not demand a significant time investment
  • Interesting puzzles

Cons:

  • A controller can make things needlessly difficult
  • Jumping feels floaty, and precision can be hard to come by
  • Linear story and environment limits replayability

Lord Crocosquirrel gives Faraday Protocol a Drastik Measure of 6.5 of a possible 10.0 (65)