Another cyberpunk-themed video game, you hear me say? Don’t click away just yet. This one comes with a twist. 7th Sector is a side-scroller puzzle game developed by Носков Сергей. In it, you don’t play as an oppressed worker, a revolutionary fighter seeking for a better world, or any other predictable trope plucked from the book of thematic clichés. In fact, you’re nothing more than a spark of electricity. While inconsistent in quality, there’s more than a few amusing brain-teasers to test yourself with.
Not a single line of dialogue is used to convey a story or set the scene, and yet it’s still enough to catch your attention. It’s an atmospheric title with impressive lighting, a minimalistic electronic soundtrack, and some glum setpieces. Aside from silhouettes and shadows shuffling around in the background, you’ll also come across a few surprising sights, like people being tied down and forced to watch frightening movies (which is reminiscent of novels like 1984 or A Clockwork Orange).
Your journey begins inside a static-filled monitor. After that, you must whittle through nearby wires in order to access or commandeer any gadget or machine in your way, solving a diverse selection of puzzles. The variety on offer is easily the game’s strongest selling point. They include mathematical equations, matching symbols, moving storage containers, physics puzzles, and so on. Sometimes, hints are given via sound effects or jingles, so it’s recommended that you keep the sound on at all times. The learning curve is a graduate one, and you’ll be finding more of the notably tougher ones later as you progress.
However, things start to become a bit too action-centric once you take control of a machine gun-wielding, four-legged mechanical monstrosity. Sounds cool in concept, but combat consists of staying off-screen and firing at enemies, praying that your laser sight is pointing at their head. There are also numerous stop-and-go sections where you’ll have to cower behind cover in between rushing from left to right, all the while dodging turrets or environmental hazards. It just feels like a slog. It’s around this point in the game where difficulty spikes begin to crop up, with unexpected deaths and headache-inducing puzzles aplenty.
A surprising inclusion is the fact that the game has multiple endings. The outcome will depend on a few specific actions you’ll make later in the game. There are also optional transformers puzzles, where you’ll need to figure out which numbers added together will reach a sum of 220. They can be a nice distraction if you’re a math lover and achievement hunter, not like it’s a revolutionary inclusion or anything.
7th Sector isn’t a bright spark, but it’s still a good pick if you love games that make you question your intelligence. The hands-off approach regarding story-telling is a nice touch, and the visuals are beautifully bleak. You’ll get at least five hours of mileage from it, even if some of the side-scroller elements tend to pad out the experience.