I’m a sucker for a good puzzle game. More specifically, I’m a sucker for puzzle games with interesting mechanics. I don’t mind it if a puzzle game throws a bunch of puzzle types I’ve seen before, but if I’m interacting with those puzzles in a novel way, I can’t help but to be excited. That’s really the easiest way to describe my enthusiasm for 7th Sector as it releases for the Nintendo Switch.
In 7th Sector you play as a spark. You are trapped, as electricity, forced to flow through different electrical wiring. You can put yourself into certain electronics to manipulate them, but otherwise you travel through wiring—able to jump small gaps through the open air, either through exposed wiring or straight through the insulation (probably not FCC rated). 7th Sector could have easily been as minimalist as possible, but the entire time you’re doing your thing there is an entire dark cyberpunk world happening in the background.
The imagery in 7th Sector is striking. The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, and I even played this on a Nintendo Switch so I wasn’t expected graphical perfection, but the whole presentation is still notable. As I mentioned, in the background there is an entire dystopian near-future world you can observe, and really sets the mood for the puzzle solving in the foreground. The whole experience is just so damn cool looking, and imagery like the person stuck in the static-filled television is just so haunting.
As I’ve mentioned, the puzzles are mostly just okay. While the whole concept has a bit of a novel feel to it, the puzzles themselves are pretty well tread, for the most part. If you’ve played puzzle games, you’ve probably run across a few of these: balance electricity, move objects/obstacles to go forward, manipulate pictures to match the one shown, etc.
Some of the puzzles are pretty tricky, but not for the right reasons. I don’t mind a bit of reflex and timing involved in puzzle solving, but I feel like 7th Sector’s margin for error is just a little too low in some cases. Repeatedly failing a puzzle I knew the solution to because I couldn’t move the spark through the wire fast enough is frustrating, especially since moving is probably one of the most tedious parts of 7th Sector.
Puzzle games that slow your movement make sense to a degree, especially when timing is involved. But if your character constantly feels like they’re stuck in mud, it’s not fun. In 7th Sector, your main mode of travel is through wiring—and it is annoying slow sometimes. The tension is great when you’re avoiding the red sparks that will force you back to the previous checkpoint, or trying to run through an obstacle before the connection collapses. But you’re stuck at a pace that is just a little hair-pullingly slow for me. But as much trouble as I had with it, I was able to adapt.
If it weren’t for the impending Nintendo Switch release, I may have missed this one. I didn’t catch it when it released for PC, only first playing the Switch version. But maybe that’s for the best: 7th Sector is a game that fits perfectly into short play sessions, if you’re taking your Switch to school or work. And it’s great for longer sessions where you can just get lost in the world and puzzles. Of course, as a puzzle game, the amount of time you take with it varies on your ability to get through the obstacles and challenges in front of you. But it’s a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.
7th Sector is a surprise. It’s a dark, atmospheric puzzler set in a near-future cyberpunk dystopia that fits with its brand of electricity manipulating, ghost in the machine-type puzzles. While the puzzles, for the most part, are nothing new, the presentation is superb. Some fast reflexes and good timing are required to get through timed obstacles, so don’t expect a completely laid-back experience. And it turns out, 7th Sector is a great fit for the Nintendo Switch.
7th Sector is available tomorrow on Nintendo Switch and already available on Windows.
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