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Review: Firmament [PC]

It's time to complete the Firmament mission.

Even in 2023, not many games have matched Cyan’s classic 1992 computer game Myst in terms of puzzles and wonder. Cyan Worlds has been trying to honor that legacy, however, with their latest title Firmament maintaining that spirit. Or, at least, attempting to.

Developed primarily for VR, this PC game follows directly in the line of the Myst games with its slow-paced, methodical puzzles and mostly silent worldbuilding. You’ll notice a lot of that Myst style in this game, and it’s impossible to explore these realms and not be reminded of Myst and Riven.

Which is a shame, because the comparison hurts Firmament in the end. Thanks to its inconsistent performance and occasionally baffling design, this title doesn’t capture the same magic as Cyan’s classics.

A world less traveled

St. Andrew
Explore three different realms in Firmament.

Firmament tasks you with exploring three realms maintained by the Keepers, a mysterious people who work under the Firmament project. The Mentor, a deceased Keeper, acts as your only companion during the game, giving you hints and lore along the way.

Like Cyan’s other games, you’re left to your own devices for most of the adventure. Cyan are typically masters at giving you clues through the environment rather than holding your hand through puzzles.

This is true in Firmament to some extent. Many of the puzzles are operated through complex manufacturing and infrastructure. It feels very much like a homespun place for people to live. Which, given the background of the Firmament project, makes a lot of sense. (I won’t spoil it here, of course!)

If there’s one thing I can definitely praise the realms for, it’s how they look. The environments all look fantastic, and even though I had a few performance issues, the game typically ran very consistently. Yet I often found it frustrating to navigate because a vital piece of context was hidden in places I didn’t think I could get to. I understand that the click-to-teleport control scheme of Myst is too old-school nowadays, but losing it creates a whole new issue.

A broken machine

Firmament Puzzle
Interacting with puzzles is all done with your Adjunct.

Every time you interact with a puzzle in Firmament, you use your Adjunct — a handheld tool that lets you remotely operate sockets to perform various tasks. In practice, it’s not a really engaging control scheme, but it makes perfect sense since the game is designed for VR.

While I like some of the ideas the game presents, it often fumbles in its execution. Here’s the thing: the majority of these puzzles aren’t hard at all to figure out. It’s just a matter of finding the solution which can be tricky — and when that’s the case, it’s very satisfying.

However, a few puzzles are so abstract that they baffle the mind. I can think of a few examples (clearing ice in an underwater shaft, finding the right position to maneuver a harvester robot) where the solution extends outside the game’s logic. When it feels like the answer cheats the game’s rules up to that point, you’ve done something wrong.

Unraveling the threads of Firmament

Firmament Curievale
Unraveling the mystery of Firmament isn’t always a breeze.

I could tolerate some of the game’s less-than-spectacular puzzles and design if the story were leading to something interesting. And it does, but far, FAR too late.

As I said, the only voice you’ll hear is that of the Mentor, who pipes up occasionally to wax poetic for a bit before disappearing again. It doesn’t so much provide direction as it does outline the backstory, but unfortunately, her sleepy voice just doesn’t grab you at all. So, it feels like more of a distraction.

There’s only one instance where I felt really absorbed in the story, and that was quite literally at the finale. The last room hits you with a twist that, while not incredibly mind-blowing, at least frames everything with an intriguing moral conundrum. But given that the credits roll right afterward, it doesn’t capitalize on that idea in any way.

Firmament holds firm but doesn’t soar

The Swan
After you’ve solved the mysteries of the realms, it’s nice to sit back and relax in the Swan.

The sad part is that Firmament has lots of potential, but only matches some of it in its final version. Its high points are satisfying and breathtaking, but its low points are infuriating and disappointing. There’s probably enough of that Cyan charm to appeal to Myst fans, but non-converts likely won’t find anything new to change their minds here.

Firmament is available now for PC and macOS. Versions for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation VR2 will be available later.

What are your thoughts on Firmament if you’ve played it? Let us know!

Thanks to Cyan for providing us with a review key!




Firmament has all the mind-bending puzzle actions you'd expect from Cyan, but some of the magic is definitely missing. Its realms are beautiful and some of its mechanics are fun to play with. But with an inconsistent challenge and some dodgy performance, it doesn't live up to its lofty ambitions.

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Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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