Ever since I was a child I’ve loved puzzles. Whether, they came in a traditional physical like format such as jigsaws, and those interlocking blocks, or virtual like video games and logic puzzles. I have fond memories of an old PC furiously going through scribbled notes to solve the next area in Myst, or figuring out just the right angle to turn the camera to unlock a door or a secret area in The Witness. There is something cathartic about getting lost in a world like this to try and figure out what it’s all about. That brings us to Noskov Sergey’s 7th Sector.
7th Sector is not an oddity among the other thought provoking, atmospheric puzzlers. In fact it has a lot of similarities with these other games where it gives little guidance on where to go or what to do, as well as your objective in the story being a mystery.
The game is set in a dark dystopian, cyberpunk world where electronics permeate everything, wires run from building to building through windows, doors with security scanners block your path, robots of various sizes and shapes wander the streets and backgrounds. There are people but they usually seem to be distracted or disconnected from what is going on around them. This really builds the dichotomy of being connected to everything but at the same time detached.
You move through the wires, TV screens, and electronics mostly as a small spark of electricity. You have the ability to jump from wire to wire and take over electronics with the press of a button and from there you can exert force on them to solve the puzzles. There is a small hint of danger with red sparks, lights, and static TV screens that will “kill” you, however the save points are fairly plentiful so just try again.
The puzzles themselves are a mixed bag for me as I absolutely loved the ingenuity of some while others I felt were just kind of a slog to get through with some trial and error or just brute forcing my way through some of the more obtuse ones. I wouldn’t say any of the puzzles are bad but when it’s just holding a button to try and get a fan to spin faster it’s not exactly the most exciting thing in the world.
The story is very much a mystery as you learn very little just doing the puzzles and much more of the world is revealed through emails found slightly off the beaten path. This type of storytelling really goes hand in hand with the style of game and honestly suits it just fine. I don’t want to go too deep into the story but early on you will get the feeling that you are far more than a mere spark.
Controls were fairly easy to get the hang of early on however I found for some of the sections where you need to move quickly through to avoid hitting a red spark or being caught by a light were a little more difficult to navigate with the “move faster” button not being a constant rate of acceleration or speed. Another issue was when controlling something such as the remote control car those controls were far less intuitive and it was easy to get yourself or something else stuck in a corner.
Overall I enjoyed 7th sector as it was a nice break from the usual shooters and ARPGs we get so many of nowadays. The atmosphere was wonderful and painted a deep dark tapestry of a world where everything is connected but also not. The game is not for everyone but if you like puzzles and mysterious dystopian worlds this budget indie game is probably for you.