March 21, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson
Some say smoking doesn't solve any problems, but it seems to do trick most of the time in Eli Piilonen's puzzle platformer, Fixation. While Fixation is a prequel to The Company of Myself, temporal puzzles are a thing of the past here: it's all about the carbon monoxide. Kathryn, the playable female character, when permitted, can cast thick clouds of smoke to set off certain switches and block certain death beams, while a perfectly timed puff makes a ring to set off other switches from a distance.
Fixation also has a good supporting cast to help along the story and gameplay. Kathryn's sister's boyfriend, Thomas, who insists on being called "TheSphinx," pushes Kathryn's buttons metaphorically and literally; Jack, the washed-up magician, shows her things she can do for herself, like preventing boxes from respawning to her advantage; and the psychologist teaches her even more about herself and the puzzles she can solve.
The dialogue is dense for a puzzle platformer but interesting, exploring different people's fixations. With so much text, I wish it was spoken out loud or it didn't hinder visibility so I could choose to solve the puzzles first. I also wish the dialogue didn't repeat when I died.
Along with other neat tricks, the smoking mechanic ironically makes for a refreshing experience, spanned over 40 stages. David Carney returns to work on the audio for this prequel, with charming pixel art now by Ben Jelter. You can play Fixation over at Armor Games today. Kudos to whoever solves the tough challenge at the beginning of chapter 3!