‘Filament’ game preview: Solve puzzles to fix your spaceship in this atmospheric indie puzzler

Tribune News Service

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In 'Filament', you're a space janitor trying to repair a run-down space station.

When a game is built around a single style of puzzle, it had better be good. It needs to be versatile enough that it can be presented in thousands of different ways, to a different effect each time. Luckily, Filament is that kind of game.

A big galactic fixer-upper

Filament’s story is simple. You’re a sort of space handyman, and you arrive at a run-down space station which you need to repair. It looks like someone lives there, with various personal items lying around, but the only company you have is a female voice who calls herself Juniper that starts speaking to you after you enter the ship. Naming you “Pluto”, Juniper tells you little by little about what happened on the ship and the crewmates who used to live here.

It seems the only way you two are going to figure things out is if you can fix the ship and work your way to the navigation control room, where the disembodied voice comes from.

Each time you fix one of the power “anchors” scattered around the ship, you get to hear a little bit more of the narrative.

Lighting the correct path

The main challenges in Filament begin any time you interact with a power station or anchor. In these challenges, you take on the role of a little robot with a cord of light (the “filament” of the game’s title) attached to it. Your task is to move through a series of rooms, lighting them up as you go.

In each room, you must light up points, or nodes, in a circuit by moving around the room, leaving cord behind you in such a way that it touches each node to turn it on. Once you’ve turned on all nodes, you need to reach the exit – without walking over any of the cord.

As you work your way up to more complicated puzzles, more obstacles appear. There are also black nodes that will cut the power supply to your cord if it touches them.

These puzzles in 'Filament' task you with lighting the way with the filament.
Photo: Tribune News Service

In this way, Filament takes its simplistic puzzle design and introduces various knick-knacks that make any given room run from basic to utterly brain-twisting.

Give me some light in the dark

Filament is impressive in the way it takes its core puzzle and uses little changes to make a wide range of different room designs and challenges out of it.

But as the puzzles get more difficult, Filament does very little to hold your hand when you get lost. Solving puzzles can sometimes open up boxes which contain clues to other puzzles on the ship, but there are no hint systems or skipping when a puzzle gets too tough. You simply have to figure out the way forward or take a break.

Don’t get us wrong. We love a good challenge, and Filament supplies it. Moreover, if you’re having too much trouble with one type of challenge, you can always abandon that power anchor, try another one located in the ship’s different areas, and come back to where you left off later.

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There are a lot of different styles of puzzles, and as you complete certain sets, more of the ship opens up, letting you explore further, hear more narrative, and check out different kinds of puzzles. In this way, it gives you a little freedom to take a break from a particularly hard segment and try something different.

No one said space maintenance was easy

Filament definitely offers a novel puzzle-solving experience. Even if it can get very difficult very quickly in certain puzzle segments, there’s no denying that the game offers an interesting variety of challenges for its choice of puzzle style.

Moreover, the narrative from Juniper serves as a nice reward between stretches of completing challenges, and helps to lighten up the otherwise quiet and cold experience of journeying through the neglected space station. After finding your way through a tough set of challenges, it feels good to hear her voice and know that you’re moving forward.

A hint system might be cool for some of the more difficult puzzle rooms, but overall, Filament has good things going on and we can’t wait to see more when it launches.