Backfirewall_ review (PS4)

We’d been eagerly anticipating Backfirewall_ for a while now, but the PlayStation version wasn’t available to try out until release day. Luckily, it was worth the wait – here’s our review.

When we met with developer Naraven Games and publisher All in! Games back in August for a hands on preview session of Backfirewall_, we already felt like it was something special, both because of its clever puzzles and gameplay and because of its narrative delivery and premise. All of that holds up well in the final game.

The core premise in Backfirewall_ is that you’re inside the phone, and the currently installed OS is seeing something terrible appear on the horizon – a new version of the OS that will probably overwrite everything, wiping OS9’s existence off the phone entirely. You’re an app that can navigate the phone, and OS9 convinces you that it’s up to you to put things right by stopping this update from ever happening.


It’s a novel approach, and one filled with humor that is going to appeal to anyone who’s even a little tech-minded. A Social Media app that’s scared of being updated yet again? A photo app that believes it’s rock solid and not going anywhere? A health app there’s just “there” but doesn’t really know what its story is? All accounted for, and thanks to some funny writing and some good voice work it’s a joy to interact with OS9 and meet these other “characters” living inside the phone.

While we could see a premise like that working well in a traditional and hilarious point and click adventure game format, Backfirewall_ is structured like a puzzle game – one where you traverse different parts of the phone and progress from one area to the next by making sure it glitches up enough so that it can’t be updated anymore. To do this, you’ll have to complete puzzles, and there’s a good bit of variety to them as abilities get gradually added to the game.


From a tutorial/learning curve perspective, this is a good design choice. In our hands on demo most of these abilities were already active but we had the developers there to help guide us, and it’s nice to know that there’s a natural flow to these being introduced in the final game. What’s also nice is that the difficulty level doesn’t constantly ramp up either – new mechanics are introduced and then you typically get both easier and harder puzzles before you move on to the next thing, making sure that those who aren’t avid puzzlers don’t get too frustrated.

That would have been a shame, as Backfirewall_’s humor-filled story is a clear highlight here and it would be a shame if people got stuck and weren’t able to enjoy it. There’s a built-in hint system to this end as well, but it’s a bit obtuse with its rubber duckies and we would have preferred a more organic/narrative approach to hints. It sometimes even feels a little glitchy, though perhaps that’s partially intended due to the subject matter.

Backfirewall_ is a great attempt at taking something as impersonal and technical as a piece of hardware and putting a warm and emphatic spin on it. It’s funny, it’s full of personality and charm and it’s a good puzzle game as well. An easy recommendation.

Score: 8.3/10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: