When children give life and personality to their stuffed animals or toys, we call this personification. The positive feelings associated with the activity of play are projected onto whatever it is done with, creating a feeling akin to friendship. Completely normal and in most cases harmless.
In video games, this concept is more often taken to the next step. Objects are brought to life and used at the center of a story that could have sprung from a toddler’s brain. In the case of Backfirewall_, these are the OS of a phone and the program that needs to update it.
A different kind of world
In this story you take on the role of the second; the update assistant that has to make preparations to bonjour OS9 to make room for its successor. The current occupant of the telephone, however, logically does not feel like not only losing his home, but also being thrown away like a piece of garbage. He therefore does everything in his power to convince you to stop OS10 together.
In the demo that I was allowed to play at gamescom, the choice was made to comply with this request. As this program, you run through a physical manifestation of the phone’s internal workings, with pipes carrying data, a literal dump for failed photos and emptied caches, and the firewall acting as a police force. You influence them to achieve your goal through malicious code called cheats by the game. For example, you use these cheats to remove physical bits of data in order to customize the environment, although it has been suggested that this is only the beginning of your IT skills. Meanwhile, OS9 talks to you in a very jolly way to keep some of the fun going.
A nice mix
The resulting game is reminiscent of a mix between Portal, The Stanley Parable and There Is No Game. Three games that, not coincidentally, are very important to me. The traditional humor, meta humor and visual humor caught me in just fifteen minutes. I was therefore very happy when I learned that the release is planned for later this year. That’s an update that can’t come soon enough!
With a humor-laden first-person puzzle adventure like this one, it’s hard not to make comparisons to Portal. But rarely has this been so appropriate not only in terms of content, but also quality. Of course I only saw a snippet, but if it is representative of the full game, my current top 3 of 2022 may well make way.