One of my favorite video game genres is the puzzle game. It is probably the genre that I have reviewed the most games from here on Geeky Hobbies. I generally try to check out as many puzzle games as I can. With so many indie puzzle games being released though, the genre does sometimes blend together as games utilize similar mechanics. This is one of the reasons that I was intrigued by Filmechanism as the game’s twist on the formula actually seemed unique. A game about taking a picture of the environment and then being able to restore the world to that state at a later time is something that I don’t remember ever seeing in another game that I have played. Filmechanism combines a clever photo puzzle mechanic with good puzzle design to create a fun puzzle game that fans of the genre should really enjoy.
In Filmechanism you play as a humanoid camera that can record the state of the world. When it losses its golden film, you must go on a quest through a number of worlds in order to retrieve it.
Filmechanism is at its core a puzzle platformer. The game is separated into 200 small levels. The objective of each level is to reach the flag. Between your starting location and the flag though are a number of gaps and obstacles that stand in your way. To get across the gaps and move between platforms you have a basic jump. You may have to gather keys to unlock locks or interact with obstacles in order to open a path forward. When you reach the flag you complete the level and can move onto the next.
The mechanic that makes Filmechanism stand out is the record feature. Scattered throughout each level is one or more film canisters. Once you pick up a film canister you have the ability to take a picture of the current state of the level. You can then move through the level manipulating various elements. Whenever you want you can then press a button to restore the world to how it was when you took the picture. You will need to do this as some of the elements you needed to manipulate to get to your current position need to be reset to their previous positions to ultimately make your way to the flag. In levels with multiple film canisters you can choose which picture you want to restore and can even quickly switch from one picture to another. Once you have used a picture though, it cannot be used again.
This is the mechanic that initially intrigued me about Filmechanism. On the surface this seems like a really simple idea. Despite being a simple idea, it works really well and is the main reason why Filmechanism is a really good puzzle game. The game works so well because the levels are designed really well. None of the levels are particularly long or complex. Each level only takes up one screen and you could finish most of them within 30 seconds if you know what you are doing. Some levels are better than others, but the game does a really good job coming up with clever ways of utilizing the mechanics.
Some of the levels you can just run through making any necessary adjustments as needed. Most need to be carefully planned out so you know how you are going to proceed towards the flag. You need to think carefully before you interact with any of the obstacles and choose the best times to take your limited number of pictures in each level. Most levels require you to analyze how interacting with each obstacle will impact your path towards the flag. Regularly you will interact with an obstacle to clear it out of your way, and then you need to restore it to its previous state in order to use it as a platform or to interact with it in a different way in order to further progress towards the flag.
I will admit that the puzzles probably won’t be for everyone. If the concept of using pictures to record the state of the world and then restore the world to that state later doesn’t sound all that interesting to you, the puzzles probably won’t be for you. If the concept interests you at all though, I think you will really enjoy the puzzles that the game has to offer. The puzzle design is really good that fans of the genre should have a blast playing the game. The game does have a set of moves that it comes back to regularly, but it finds new ways to twist and turn mechanics to keep the gameplay fresh. Each new world usually introduces at least one new type of obstacle as well which after a few short training levels is added to all of the other obstacles that you previously had to overcome. As a fan of puzzle games, the puzzle design of Filmechanism is exactly what I was looking for.
For a lot of puzzle games there is a fine line that most have to follow. They can’t be too easy or they will become boring. They also can’t be too difficult though as it becomes frustrating when you can’t find a solution to a puzzle. In this area I think Filmechanism does a fantastic job. The game basically has three tracks through each world. Each of these tracks provide a different level of difficulty. To reach the next world you only have to complete one of the three tracks but you can easily go back and play the easier/harder levels as well. I thought this was a good idea as it allows players to play levels that will challenge them without forcing them to complete levels that frustrate them..
For the most part I would say that the easy track is quite easy (this is coming from someone who plays a lot of puzzle games). Outside of maybe a couple puzzles on the easy track, I probably solved most of them almost immediately. These puzzles feel mostly like more simplified versions of the harder levels as they teach you techniques that you will use in the harder difficulties. Anyone who regularly plays puzzle games likely won’t have much trouble with them. The easier difficulty though makes the game more accessible to people that don’t play a lot of games from this genre.
The medium and hard tracks are quite a bit more difficult. Most of these levels have at least one or two twists where you have to think outside of the box. A puzzle may seem straightforward, but there may be a thing or two that you have to do in unexpected ways. These puzzles require you to really think about how you interacting with obstacles will later impact the path you need to take to make it to the flag. These are some of the best puzzles in the game as they give you a sense of accomplishment when you solve them. Sometimes you don’t anticipate exactly how your actions will impact the rest of the level, so there is an element of trial and error to some of the levels.
I would say that I was able to solve quite a few of these puzzles relatively quickly. There were some puzzles that were quite difficult though especially since I never thought of addressing the puzzle in the way that the game requires. These puzzles could have become frustrating, but the game has a hint system that helps. Every level that you complete gives you coins which you can use to purchase hints. When you want a hint you can choose a part of the puzzle that you are having trouble with such as when to take a picture or when to restore a picture. Once you choose a hint you will get a picture showing the position of the character and all of the obstacles in the level. I think this is a good way to implement a hint system as it gives you clues to what you are doing wrong without telling you exactly what to do. This gives you a nudge in the right direction while still allowing you to feel a sense of accomplishment for solving the puzzle.
Earlier on I mentioned that Filmechanism was a puzzle platformer. Since then I have barely mentioned the platforming. This is because while there are platforming elements in the game, the puzzles play a much larger role in the game. I wouldn’t say that there is anything particularly wrong with the platforming. The controls are pretty responsive. The game doesn’t really require many precise jumps as the jump is pretty forgiving. Probably the biggest problem with the platforming is that some of the puzzles require some tight timing/precise jumps which feel kind of out of place. These will lead to some deaths, but they don’t happen all that often and levels are so short that you don’t lose much when you die.
As for the story and atmosphere the game does a solid job, but it didn’t appear to be a major emphasis of the game. The main character is quite cute even if the design is pretty simple. Otherwise the environments are pretty generic. The game utilizes a simplistic style which is fine as most of your time will be spent trying to solve the puzzles rather than admiring the world itself. The story is very basic as you are trying to retrieve your golden film. Each world basically just ends with a short cutscene showing the main character chasing after the film. The story is basically an afterthought. This doesn’t really matter as most people don’t play puzzle games for their stories.
When it comes to the length, I can’t really give a definitive length. This is mostly because how long the game takes will likely depend on how quickly you solve the puzzles. The game has around 200 puzzles. Each puzzle itself is quite short. If you knew how to solve a puzzle it would probably take at max 30 seconds to complete most of them. This might be the case for a lot of the easy levels, but the medium and hard levels will take some time to figure out what you need to do. If you only play the easy levels I could see beating the entire game in 1-2 hours. If you attempt to beat all of the levels though, it should take quite a bit more time. Fans of the genre that take the time to beat all of the puzzles should get their moneys worth out of the game.
As a fan of puzzle games I was intrigued by Filmechanism’s premise. For the most part the game lived up to its premise. The premise of taking photos of the environment and then being able to use those pictures to restore a previous state may seem simple. It really works as a puzzle mechanic though. A lot of this has to do with the puzzle design which is really good. The game does a good job creating three difficulty levels creating enough challenge for all players. The puzzles require you to think outside of the box, and to think carefully about how your actions impact the environment. Fans of puzzle games should really enjoy the game. The platforming is solid but there are some puzzles that require some precise jumps/timing that will lead to some deaths if you don’t get it right. The theme and atmosphere are solid as well even though it is pretty evident that neither were a big emphasis of the game.
My recommendation for Filmechanism is pretty simple. If you don’t really care for puzzle games or don’t find the photo mechanic to be all that compelling, the game likely won’t be for you. Fans of puzzle games that have at least a little interest in the premise should really enjoy Filmechanism and should really consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Chemical Pudding and Phoenixx Inc. for the review copy of Filmechanism 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.