"Taking gears with you can help you to cheese some puzzles."
That's true, and leads to the known issue that the player would then always carry on to a gear, because he could "need it later". We've seen this behaviour in one of our earliest gameplay tests. Without wires one of the planned solution would not fit in and the player just would think (even more than now) - "Well that was random.".
Yup, the wires are one thing we already have in the pipeline for feedback. Sound should play but probably is too quiet due to spatialization. But a sound for "puzzle solved" is already in our mind.
In the puzzle design the idea is to create one medium sized compelling puzzle is good. We didn't really focused on actual puzzle design right now and tried to explore what we can do with the limited mechanisms ( there are actually just 6 devices ) to bring them into interesting setups to give a hint where we want to go with it. Therefore I understand your argument that currently it feels more like being in kinda like mashed together puzzles (laborious).
But also more mechanism would not mean more interesting puzzles, we already know that - it just means easier variation but the player gets thrown something new on his head. And that's just how the puzzles currently feel - The player just get's introduced a new element mainly every puzzle - which destroys pacing. The level is not reflective in level & puzzle design for the final level. It's mostly a playable sandbox which allows us to show players what our idea is and see how they react.
I think the main issue is we haven't yet figured out how we want the puzzles to actually play and throw ideas of us together to see what can work and what not :)
Currently you can not really get "stuck" leaving behind a gear. As some doors open in an XOR pattern so you can access the area again but have to take the long route.
The activitation (how long does something stay active) issue we want to try to solve by actually using a more like energy system (which will be enhanced by the wires - visually) so doors actually use up energy once they open.
There is a lot missing - in terms of feedback for the player and additions to the game so we can leave players experiment alone and analysis how they play (the signs) in the game, as our intended solution will take a bit longer to create than just simple signs :)
Again, thanks for your in-depth feedback on the puzzles :)