Backfirewall_ is a new first-person adventure game developed by Naraven Games and published by All in! Games and is available to play on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox, with a Nintendo Switch version coming later this year. When this game landed on my virtual desk, Backfirewall_ sounded like a badass game title and I was expecting a game with guns and blowing shit up. When it was explained that it was a game where you are playing inside a smartphone, I was both confused and intrigued, but ended up having a lot of fun with it.
This is a unique puzzle game where you play as the update assistant of a smartphone that needs to upgrade to the new operating system. Sounds pretty cool and simple right? Fancy new OS to keep your phone running, new features, and apps etc. to pimp out your smartphone? Well not according to the old operating system, OS9. OS9 isn’t having a bar of this update and sets out to crash the new OS so both of us stay alive…or to use me in accomplishing a hidden agenda.
The game has created a well thought out world for the player to explore and experience this unique take on what it could possibly be like inside a smartphone as a living world. As I ran around and explored, I couldn’t help but think about The Emoji Movie as I interacted with various componentry and phone apps. You get to meet some interesting characters to engage with on your journey as you decide to either help OS9 or obey your programming and update the smart phone to OS10, which will effectively kill OS9…and you with it.
At its heart, Backfirewall_ is a puzzle game that mixes an enjoyable story and characters for you to meet as you set off on your mission. The first few puzzles have you fix code errors by searching for the problems in a dark fog or ensuring power optimisation by a duplicating puzzle. As simple as it sounds, the puzzles are quite fun and get more complicated as you work your way through the story and the smartphone world.
I found the graphics simple but didn’t detract me away from the gameplay. Occasionally you will see graffiti messages on the floors and walls that give you hints about other characters, and there are toys and other collectibles like text messages that provide a good picture of the phone user and their inputs/interactions. The voiceovers of the characters are well performed, and it keeps you engaged to listen to the story as it progresses.
Overall, Naraven Games hasn’t changed the wheel of this genre, but they definitely have produced a solid game in Backfirewall_ that is fun for players of all ages. It’s a breath of fresh air to play games like these than the constant stream of the next big FPS or RPG. I’m looking forward to playing some more right now as I type to see if OS9 turns into the smartphone overlord, or I decide to get rid of the pesky OS and make way for the future updates.