Solving puzzles in space is nothing new; however, Factotum's simplistic yet interesting take on the genre is definitely one worth looking into, so let's hack the security cameras and see what it's all about.
Factotum puts you in the shoes of a surviving spacecraft inhabitant who must control a couple of quadruped robots to put an end to an alien threat. Guided only by a mysterious voice, you'll work your way through thirty puzzle-filled missions to accomplish your task. When you first start the adventure, you're gradually introduced to the gameplay basics and are only in control of one droid. After figuring out a couple of curveballs, a second bot enters the mix and from then on your job is to switch between the two to have them help each other advance to the next area of the ship. The controls could not be better as you use the stick to walk around and the GamePad's touch screen to interact with objects and change robots. If you find yourself in a sticky situation then you can respawn at the start of the mission whenever you want which comes in handy quite often. Overall, it may be simple but it all works like a well-oiled machine.
Visually, Factotum establishes an atmosphere constantly shrouded in darkness since you can only see through the security system's night vision cameras. This is nifty at first, but it remains the same from start to finish which becomes stagnant rather quickly. That being said, it's easy to overcome since the audio is phenomenal. The spot-on sound effects make every action satisfying. Even your handler's voice is perfect for creating a sense of urgency while also providing some levity when it's needed. Additionally, small touches such as the two bots communicating when they come in close contact will put a welcome smile on your face.
Factotum's initial puzzles are rather basic as they mostly involve pressing buttons to move platforms and carrying boxes from point A to point B. As you progress, you'll find yourself guiding lasers into prisms, setting off bombs, cloning yourself, and materializing blocks out of thin air. The learning curve is implemented very well as it allows you to understand each mechanic thoroughly before moving on to the next one. This makes each puzzle satisfying to master yet it never becomes too difficult. If you're looking for a challenge that pushes your brain to its limits then you'll probably be disappointed, but those just looking for some doable puzzles that are rewarding to overcome will feel right at home. To put it simply, the gameplay manages to stay both fresh and fulfilling throughout the entire campaign.
The most frustrating aspect of Factotum is how tedious it can be from time to time. This occurs when you accidentally make a mistake like fall from a ledge or drop a box slightly off target. Doing such silly things regularly results in you having to work your way through minutes of puzzle-solving all over again to make it back to where you messed up. Watching the little bots slowly march their way back will definitely test your patience. The other area where tedium emerges is when you know how to solve a puzzle yet it requires too many steps. After minutes of mindlessly going through the motions, you'll feel great relief when you finally make it to the next mission.
Lastly, the adventure is over much sooner than you'd hope. As you approach the end of your journey, things start to get quite interesting. However, it ends soon after thus making you wish that you've only reached the half-way point. I guess this means that the game is compelling enough to make you want more, but that doesn't fully excuse it for ending as abruptly as it does. You could always go back and collect the item on each mission which rewards you with a stamp that you can use in Miiverse posts.
Factotum is a worthwhile game for anyone who loves solving puzzles that aren't too difficult. However, gamers looking for a steeper challenge and those who can't cope with the tedium of redoing puzzles should probably look somewhere else.
- + Satisfying yet not too challenging puzzles
- + Maintains an intriguing atmosphere
- + New mechanics slowly get introduced which keeps the gameplay fresh
- - Frequently feels very tedious
- - Visuals remain stagnant throughout
- - It's over once it starts getting interesting which will make you want much more