Chemical Pudding’s FILMECHANISM, a surprise reveal at the Japanese Nintendo Indie World Showcase, has a simple idea to it, and sometimes that’s all you need to make a fun video game. Rec is our cute camera humanoid main character who has lost his gold film canister, whereby you must traverse many puzzle platforming levels in order to reclaim it.
In each level, the goal is to reach the red flag. The aim is to collect all the film canisters in the level, these will allow you to take a picture of the level in its current state, and you can then restore this image once you have progressed in order to reach the flag. Restoring the image will return all items and traps to the position they were in when you took the picture.
There’s a variety of objects and traps for you to both avoid and use to reach your goal. These include moveable blocks, spikes that fall from the ceiling but offer another block to jump on once they’ve landed, falling platforms, switches, springs and more. Sometimes your access to the flag will be blocked by a gate that you can open either by finding the key or by piling the right number of blocks onto a number switch.
FILMECHANISM is challenging in that you’re not just solving the puzzle, but also overcoming some tricky platforming tasks. Many of the levels require you to move quickly to overcome obstacles in time or perform precise jumps to avoid messing up. And most of the puzzles will need to be restarted if you make even the slightest mistake.
But there are plenty of hints to help you if you are truly stuck. You are offered a massive number of coins to spend when you start the game, and you can buy hints with these coins if you’re stuck on a task. The hints will usually reveal what your first move should be, when you should record and restore your footage, and what your end position will look like. Most of the time, you will only really need to know when to record and restore your footage and that’s usually enough information to make it to the end of the level. So, you’re never really at a point where you can no longer progress in the game.
You’ll make your way from level to level via the world map. Each world represents a different theme and will have three different difficulties for you to try out. In total, there are over 200 levels, so FILMECHANISM will keep you busy for a while. It’s already taken me five hours to complete the ‘normal’ difficulty setting of levels, and now I’m halfway through the ‘hard’ levels. I’m already starting to see some tricky platforming tasks and more precise timings, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the ‘hell’ difficulty has in store.
FILMECHANISM‘s simplistic gameplay is followed by simplistic 8-bit graphics which suit the game well. The almost monochrome tones of the game give me a dystopian vibe and the colour scheme reminds me of Papers, Please, and in turn it has a unique character that sets it apart from other platforming games. Though it doesn’t feel as depressing to play as Papers, Please, in fact, you’re treated with an incredibly cheerful tune that follows you through the world map, performed in different styles to suit the theme of each world. It’s catchy to begin with, but I do wish there had been a little bit of diversity in the score to stop it from sticking in my head after playing the game for a few hours straight.
Overall, I found FILMECHANISM to be really fun to play and it’s challenging enough to continue to peak your interest after five hours. On top of this, it’s also quite addictive and you can sit there for hours thinking ‘just one more level’, yet you’re still sat at your PC or Switch ten levels later. With over 200 levels to dive in to, it’s really worth the money and it’s progressive difficulty will ensure that you’re not just repeating the same thing over and over again. My only criticism is that the score is a little repetitive (albeit catchy to begin with), and I did find myself playing the game on mute after a few hours. But that is a minor fault in what otherwise is a really great puzzle platforming game and I definitely recommend it for puzzle fans.