Firmament - PC (Steam) Review

by developer and publisher Cyan Worlds Inc—PC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes.


Cyan Worlds Inc launched a Kickstarter several years ago to create a new ambitious puzzle game - one that would invoke the same sense of wonder that their titular game series Myst caused in the late 90s. Not only did the Kickstarter campaign hit the $1.3 million goal with over 18,000 backers, but they delivered on the project four years later even after going through the challenges presented by a global pandemic. 

For those unfamiliar, Cyan are the creators of the legendary Myst game which is THE video game that made the puzzle genre popular. People like myself can point to it playing a huge role in their gaming experience, so much that puzzle gamers will hold every one of their games to such a high standard. And because of Cyan's history, their legendary status can be a tall order for any gaming studio, let alone a self-published one that has remained as such for years. 

Now that we have the history out of the way, let's talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly with Firmament and why I feel somewhat conflicted about this review.

Exploring the World and Your Capabilities

Firmament is a puzzle game like no other, which is to say that it offers both a 3D and VR version. This is no easy task as many games commit to one of the mediums at the cost of the other. Unfortunately, Firmament suffers from this exact issue. In implementing a VR mode, the regular PC version is sacrificed, and that is frustrating to say the least. 

The main reason for its mixed reception is a tool known as the Adjunct which allows you to hook into terminals that perform different functions. While this is an interesting way to engage with us on both a VR and non-VR scale, it is far from a sophisticated way to interact with the environment. Puzzles are solved using this one type of interaction, which simplifies puzzles as there is no complexity in the challenges. Instead, you are pigeon-holed into using the Adjunct for every puzzle. Doing this creates monotonous gameplay and is what contributes to the games lackluster reception. 

On the flipside, what the Adjunct does allow is a different type of puzzle solving. Instead of ones where we are accustomed to manipulating different panels and switches, we get environmental puzzles that have their own challenges. For example, we raise and drop plant platforms to get to new areas. Or, we operate a massive crane that allows us access to a previously unreachable path. While these are engaging, we are also operating on blind faith that we will succeed in our task without the use of mirrors. I'm no engineer, but I suspect that a few well placed mirrors would allow for more meaningful solutions. But it's that lack of visual cues - either in the Adjunct screen or in the world - that brings out a level of disappointment in longtime fans of Cyan games. 


What I stated just now does not make Firmament a bad game. It has beautiful graphics, stellar music, fabulous voice acting, and a sense of wonder which is augmented by its atmosphere. But these elements aren't enough to hold onto today's gamers.

That said, graphically the game invokes a sense of smallness while exploring what was once vast worlds with structures billowing down upon you. The spires are large and intimidating and the worlds are quite spread out, requiring use of the run feature. In many locations, I marveled at the scenery. Though, there were areas where textures and graphic meshes were quite pixelated and unclear, taking away from my immersion. 

Scattered throughout the locations are books, instruments, posters, and other creature comforts of the citizens that once lived here. But, even with the eerie thoughts about what happened to the people that used to inhabit these worlds, it remains a shell. Whether by design or not, I couldn't help but feel that something was wrong here. 

Is the lack of notes or lore on purpose to create the atmosphere? Personally, I will err on the side of optimism that this was intentional in creating a sense of mystery. Though, I feel that the game lacks depth during the early challenges. While I personally see the decision as a smart move on Cyan's part, die-hard fans might see the lack of substance as a disappointment.


The music in Firmament is captivating. While it wasn't created by Robyn Miller or Jack Wall who were composers for the original Myst titles, Cyan has the amazing Maclaine Diemer for Firmament. This is important because Maclaine is known for his work on Rock Band and Guild Wars 2. By 2019 he stepped down 
from ArenaNet as lead composer. Then in 2022, he joined Cyan Worlds to compose the atmospheric music for Firmament.  

Each piece crafted for Firmament adds a level of mystery and wonder to the worlds with the use of contrasting notes and well placed high-pitched vibrato. Compositions have a quieter background element that adds to the eerie and sharp tones that put you on edge throughout gameplay. In my opinion, the audio helped elevate the atmosphere. 

The music isn't the only audio present in the game. As you play through Firmament, you are guided by a female mentor who tells you that she is dead. You must continue the legacy as a Keeper. Unfortunately, while I would love to lift up the voice actors of video games, this person has chosen to stay out of the credits. This was a deliberate choice on their part that Cyan honored, but I couldn't handle not mentioning the fact that their contributions are well received and truly appreciated. 

Puzzling Issues

I've enjoyed playing Firmament, regardless of its simplicity in puzzle design. However, the game has some glaring issues. Unlike other puzzle games in this genre, it does not have an unstuck button or a reset option that I know of. Compounded by the fact that there is only one autosave slot, it is paramount that you save before attempting any puzzle. It is much easier to start at the beginning with newly discovered information, than attempting to undo some egregious wrongs caused by bugs.

Aside from that, the biggest issues I had with Firmament had to do with some of the puzzles individually. Notably, the crane puzzle angered me. It had nothing to do with it being easy or hard, it had to do with graphical issues. On the crane there are two ladders that take you to either a front or a back console that moves the crane. There is a graphical representation of the crane on the Adjunct dial which helps you assess the environment around you. 

At several points during the solving of this section, the crane became stuck. Presumably, it would be stuck on the mountain or on other obstacles. Once I moved to the other Adjunct dial, I discovered that the crane was not stuck on anything. In fact, the crane would often be a far cry from anything. So why did it get stuck? A good question. I have no idea. But, that problem wasn't the main one. If the crane got stuck on something, it often couldn't move to its previous position. In fact, it often couldn't move at all! Other than restarting the puzzle, the only solution I found was to head to the other side of the crane and move it by using its own bugged interaction against it.

I also found issues with character movement. Because it is the easiest to explain, the crane puzzle is being used again to illustrate my point. If you get the crane to a platform, there were points where I needed to adjust because I couldn't step off the crane! Of all the issues the game has, this is the most irritating and notable one and it made me despise the puzzle. It's even responsible for crashing the game! So, this one specific puzzle has my ire.

The Firmament

When I think about all the previous games released by Cyan, I think about the worldbuilding, the lore, and the challenging yet clever puzzles in each game. And if I put Firmament against any of those titles (including End of Ages which is my least favorite of the series), it doesn't quite make the high bar we set for it. Despite the fact that each game has a unique flavor, interesting characters, and plotlines to wet the palette, Firmament managed to miss all of it. 

It's a great game to kill a few hours in because of the atmosphere and visuals, but die-hard fans set their expectations too high for what Firmament is. Those who have not played a Cyan game before would find Firmament to be good, but not enough to keep them invested, and that's a shame. It's a beautiful game that won't be as memorable in the books of Cyan. And as much as I would love to recommend it to the masses, I don't think it's amazing nor do I think it is bad either. Firmament is still an interesting game full of mystery and wonder, just don't expect the world from it. 

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Review By: Susan N.



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