Originally released back in March of last year on PC, 7th Sector has made its way to consoles yesterday. When the game was initially released on PC I never really noticed it. That is kind of surprising as it is the type of game that I gravitate towards. Puzzle games are one of if not my favorite genre of video games. I am also a huge fan of sci-fi and futuristic themes. As 7th Sector looked like a puzzle game set in a futuristic cyberpunk setting I thought it showed a lot of potential. With the new console releases I finally got the opportunity to check it out. 7th Sector does a great job creating an engaging environment with interesting puzzles that are unfortunately not always intuitive.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Носков Сергей for the review copy of 7th Sector used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In 7th Sector you play as a spark stuck in the system. You are given no background on what you are or what you are supposed to do, but you seem to be on some sort of mission. As a spark you can travel through the world’s various electronics and the power lines as you make progress towards your ultimate mission. At first it feels like you are in a typical cyberpunk future, but as you progress through the game you soon realize that things are not as they first appear.
7th Sector is for the most part a puzzle game. At the beginning of the game you will start as a spark allowing you to traverse between power lines. The game takes place on a 2D plane where you move your character left and right to explore the environment. When you approach certain electronic components you can use your ability as a spark to interact with them. This introduces a lot of the puzzle mechanics to the game. In order to open up the path you must solve the puzzle. The game features a variety of different puzzles which include basic math puzzles, puzzles where you have to explore the environment to find the necessary information, basic logic puzzles, timing puzzles, and some other types of puzzles. As you progress through the game you will be able to enter various types of robots which unlocks additional powers that you will use to solve puzzles.
In a lot of ways 7th Sector is like your typical puzzle game. The game basically has you explore the environment until you encounter the next puzzle which is blocking your forward progress. You will have to use your own wits or the nearby environment to figure out the puzzle. This will open up the path so you can continue exploring and the process repeats itself. While the game does have some unique puzzles, the gameplay doesn’t drastically differ from your typical puzzle game. If you aren’t really a fan of puzzle games, 7th Sector probably won’t be for you. As a big fan of puzzle games though I had fun with 7th Sector. Some of the puzzles are basic puzzles but others are quite clever. The best thing about the puzzles is that the game does a good job blending them into the overall atmosphere.
As for the difficulty I would say that it is kind of mixed. I found some of the puzzles to be pretty easy while others were quite a bit more difficult. For the most part I found the puzzles’ difficulty to be pretty fair and challenging enough that you feel a sense of accomplishment when you succeed. I thought the math and logic puzzles were pretty easy most of the time. I am generally pretty good at these type of puzzles though. Most of the other puzzles were at about the right level where they were challenging without becoming frustrating. There are two types of puzzles that I had some issues with though.
I want to begin with what I like to call the timing puzzles. These puzzles involve different mechanics you acquire throughout the game. The challenge with the puzzles is that you have to perform some task with pretty precise timing. The problem with these puzzles is that they give you tight windows to complete the tasks. There is a little wiggle room for mistakes but not a lot. If you mess up the timing you are automatically killed and usually have to start the puzzle from the beginning. This can lead you to dying quite a few times in a row as you try to get the timing right.
I would say that the biggest challenge for the puzzles though comes from the fact that the game is not always forthcoming about what the actual puzzle is. This is probably the biggest problem that I had with the entire game. There will be quite a few times in the game where you will approach one of the puzzle stations which alerts you to the fact that there is a puzzle. The problem is that the game gives you little indication of what the puzzle actually is and what you are supposed to do to solve it. This is combined with the fact that outside of a few instructions at the beginning of the game it doesn’t really give you much instruction. This becomes especially important when you change forms as you have to figure out on your own what each form can do. All of this leads to some puzzles that can become pretty frustrating. Its not that the puzzles are particularly difficult, but it is hard to even figure out what the objective of the puzzle is. It is hard to solve a puzzle when you don’t even know what you are trying to do. You will likely encounter situations where you will waste quite a bit of time trying to figure out what you are supposed to do or you will have to consult a walkthrough.
Other than the puzzles the rest of the gameplay revolves around exploration. As the game takes place on a 2D plane there is only so much exploration you can do. There are a few hidden paths that lead to secrets, but the exploration is pretty straightforward for the most part. You mostly just walk/roll/slide left or right until you encounter the next puzzle. I would say that most of the exploration comes from observing what is going on in the background. 7th Sector is a game that relies heavily on storytelling through background elements. The story relies on very little dialog as most of the story is told through the events playing out in the background.
For the most part I liked 7th Sector’s story/atmosphere. It likely will turn off people that prefer stories that are more direct. People who like discovering the story through the atmosphere though will probably really like it. In some ways the game seems similar to your typical cyberpunk future story (it reminds me a lot of things like the Blade Runner series), but it is unique in its own ways. The game does a really good job creating an interesting futuristic world that you want to explore. I have to say that I was also surprised by the game’s visual style. The graphics aren’t going to compare to a AAA game but it looks really good for a puzzle game. There is also the fact that the game was made for the most part by one developer which is really impressive. While the game takes inspiration from other media in the cyberpunk future genre it creates is own unique style as well.
As for the story I liked it but it encounters a few stumbling blocks along the way. As the story mostly takes place in the background it is easy to miss what is actually going on. You need to keep a close eye on the background and other things you encounter as they are responsible for most of the storytelling. This makes the story a little hard to follow at times. The story also starts a little slow as well. Around the mid game though the story really starts to pick up as it becomes more clear what is going on and what your character’s mission is. This ultimately leads to a satisfying story that just takes some time to get going.
The game’s length is going to somewhat depend on a couple factors. The first factor is how quickly you solve the puzzles. Some players will be able to solve the puzzles quite a bit quicker than other players. In particular if you are good at figuring out the objectives of the puzzles you will be able to save a lot of time. Other players could end up wasting a lot of time just trying to figure out what they are supposed to do. This also applies to the timing puzzles as some players could end up spending a lot more time trying to get the timing right. The other factor that will determine the length is how big of a completionist you are. I tried to fully explore the world to find all the secrets that I could, but I ended up missing a couple. It turns out the game has four different endings. It doesn’t seem like the game would change much on future playthroughs but players that pursue all of the endings will likely get quite a bit more time out of the game. For a normal playthrough of the game you can probably expect around 5-6 hours of gameplay with it taking longer if you struggle with the puzzles or want to get all of the endings.
Heading into 7th Sector I thought the game looked really interesting as it combined a puzzle game with an interesting futuristic setting. In a lot of ways the game succeeds in what it is trying to do. The puzzle elements may not revolutionize the genre but they are well designed for the most part. The puzzles are fun to solve and they give you a good sense of accomplishment. 7th Sector also does a great job with the atmosphere. The game takes inspiration from other futuristic cyberpunk movies/games, but it makes the genre its own as well. Even though the story starts a little slow, I thought the game did a good job telling its story through background elements. The main thing keeping the game from reaching its full potential is the fact that some of the puzzles can be frustrating. The timing puzzles don’t give you enough leeway and some puzzles never give you a clear idea of what you are even supposed to do.
People who don’t really care for puzzle games or the futuristic cyberpunk setting probably won’t like 7th Sector. Puzzle fans like myself who also enjoy this type of setting will probably have quite a bit of fun with the game. For these people I would recommend looking into picking up 7th Sector.