A towering rock formation crests the mists against a blue sky in Firmament.

sky review


need to know

what is it? A first-person puzzle adventure from the makers of Myst.
expect to pay to be determined
developer Cyan World
publisher internal
Reviewed on Nvidia 2080 Ti, Intel i9-9900k @ 4.9ghz, 32GB RAM
multiplayer game No
steam deck Verified
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

My brain never quite agreed with how Cyan Worlds designed their adventure games, mostly the iconic Myst series.As much as I enjoyed exploring their strange alien worlds full of puzzles, I still have flashbacks to poking around in Teledhan of Uru: Beyond the Age of Mystery, wasting time stamping weird machines that apparently do something I can’t intuit it. I went into Firmament with trepidation, but what I got instead was an easy-going, visually stunning adventure that might actually be a little harder.

Firmament is an easy place to start for those new to cyan. While similar in theme to the Myst series (a solitary puzzle adventure through a series of otherworldly environments), Firmament has its own setting and setting, although you won’t be told the details until the final sequence. You wake up in a luxurious steampunk sarcophagus, and a wistful-sounding French ghostly lady says you’re the “guardian of the kingdom.”

It sounds stressful, but it’s actually a pretty cool job. Le ghost says you’ll need to find your way around with the help of the Adjunct, a thick, expandable gauntlet that’s pretty much the only way you interact with the world as you roam.

They are gorgeous worlds. Like Myst, it let me relax in the central hub area and three miniature “realms”: Curievale and its giant ice quarries; Juleston and its lake-sized acid batteries fueled by sulfur mines; and my personal A favorite, lush and overgrown St. Andrew’s. Each environment feels like a single Art Deco/steampunk megastructure nestled in nature and packed with machines, all of which work toward one end goal. They are stunning and evocative metal monuments to the learned and the industrial.

As in my Cyan adventures, my ghostly mentor isn’t much help with the puzzles, but she occasionally chimes in to comment on the environment and her personal exclamations, while being careful to avoid explicit exposition. Excellent voice acting made me happy to go for a ride with her. Firmament is more of a game than a narrative, and it’s easy to focus on that, since her narration is pretty much the only vocal voice heard throughout the journey. Wind noises, thundering machinery and brooding, ominous synth tracks are your only other companions.

(Image credit: Cyan Worlds Inc)(opens in a new tab)

It’s never a mystery when it’s puzzle time: there’s no inventory management or pixel searching in Firmament, just Adjunct gauntlets to steer massive steampunk machines. Point it at anything that interacts (the clockwork socket highlighted with blue paint), attach the extended laser cable to it, and start fiddling. Each machine can be controlled by turning your Adjunct left or right (physically in VR, or Q&E on a desktop) to control a linear function, whether it’s a door opening and closing, an elevator going up or down, or more esoteric stuff.

More complex machines let you choose additional interactions with the mouse wheel. The interface on the massive quarry crane lets you cycle between three modes; forward/backward, moving the arm up/down and extending/retracting the grabber, all with just two buttons and Mouse wheel to do it. Simple and intuitive, complex are just a few unlockable abilities given at the midpoint of each of the three realms. One extends the range of the Adjunct, one lets you bounce the interface to targets you can’t reach directly, and the other unlocks some heavy-duty locks that you find later.

(Image credit: Cyan Worlds Inc)(opens in a new tab)

I fumbled my way through the entire adventure in less than 10 hours, with only a few snags. One of Cyan’s stated goals for Firmament was to create a grounded, coherent environment, and it succeeded. Each machine feels like it could be a real device and has a logical purpose related to the overall mission. Intuitive, but limited to puzzles.

Witness never needed a plausible mechanical context for its line-drawing challenges, and Resident Evil’s bizarre puzzle mechanics were supposed to be the work of eccentric architects and mad scientists. Firmament has no such excuses to fall back on.For the first time ever, I wish the point-and-click adventure puzzles were done more Complicated and obtuse. A few are genuine brain teasers (like one involving connecting circuit terminals in a giant acid bath battery assembly, and another involving navigating a multi-car train in horizontal and vertical space), but a few feel perfunctory Just use my secondary link to put the right points of contact together in a room. My least favorite puzzles are 3D scavenger hunts, where the solution is simple but requires shaking around to get the right line of sight for the next interaction point in some awkward place.

(Image credit: Cyan Worlds Inc)(opens in a new tab)

The puzzles feel a bit more intuitive in VR mode, another area where Firmament’s laudable ambitions and potential fall far short. Watching and exploring Firmament’s realm is gorgeous even on lower graphics settings, and the sheer scale of the structure becomes even more apparent in VR. Adjunct also feels a little more natural as a VR control method, pointing and clicking on distant devices, and interacting with just a button press or a twist of the wrist doesn’t require much precision.

Firmament’s VR-friendly design also makes it dead silent. The only physically movable objects I found were a couple of books (they easily move across the table in VR), which at times felt like a pre-rendered background. It fits the lineage, but isn’t so much a glove that exists purely to interact with the world.

(Image credit: Cyan Worlds Inc)(opens in a new tab)

Sometimes when I’m walking around I’ll stop suddenly and look down to see a gap of just an inch or two blocking my progress. Other times, my characters easily step over similar cracks. Some puzzles allow me to attach my Adjunct through solid walls, while acid battery puzzles allow its rotating bridges to clip into each other in particularly ugly fashion. I only mention these blemishes because they are a distraction from an otherwise excellent presentation. Firmament’s Realms is picturesque and perfect for taking screenshots.

I enjoyed my time with Firmament, which feels more like an otherworldly tour than a challenging puzzle game. Between a sprawling story and only a handful of really juicy puzzles, it relied on its setting and atmosphere to hold my attention, and it certainly did. But aside from the imagery and scope of the monolithic sci-fi structure, I don’t think Firmament will leave much of an impact. It’s a nice ramble, but nobody’s behind it making a Pyst (opens in new tab) sequel.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.