What do you get when you have a puzzle game as a base, mix in some beautiful art, and top it off with a bit of gravity? You get Etherborn, a game which will take your brain, and break said brain over your knee. At least it will look pretty by the time it is done with you.
My Brain Hurts
I do enjoy myself a nice puzzle game. The ability to push, and break my mental limit. Etherborn does just that. The way it incorporates gravity is just genius. Turning roads into walls and punishing you for any mistake. Just from that portion, so much crafting was put into every twist and turn to make each level unique. Then there was the occasional element mixed in as well. Whether it is acid, walls coming out of the ground, or triggers moving pieces of the map around, there was always something to spice it up. But I think they miss one opportunity I thought Altered Matter would jump on.
Given that Etherborn is a puzzle game about gravity, I was expecting to see objects adjust to the gravity as we moved through space. Adding this single element in could have opened the door for so many different possibilities. But that would require more time and money to make that a reality. On top of that, more levels would have to be introduced to make people familiar with the mechanic.
That would not be a bad thing though, the more levels the merrier. Because as it stands right now, there are only 4 levels in the game. Don’t get me wrong, each level is masterfully crafted, oozing with detail. But I felt a bit let down with the amount there was to complete. Altered Matter stated it would take about 2 to 4 hours to complete this game, and I finished it in 2 hours. When the end rolled around, I just wanted more. And I hope more are made one day.
But My Eyes Feel Good
God damn. This game is a treat to look at. I do appreciate that Etherborn recognizes itself as a low poly game, allowing for more time and development to go into the levels. Then taking said art style, and using a lighting engine that makes this game shine (pun intended). Even the depth of field, a feature I regularly turn off, felt perfect in this setting. Just that bit of blur gave the player exactly what they needed to feel the size of Etherborn.
The details added throughout each map make each setting unique in its own fantastic way. My personal favorite setting was the final level, where these statues stand tall around you, giving you a true sense of how small you truly are. I have no doubt that everyone will find at least 1 level they love.
Where am I?
Well, the only thing that could make this art piece hard to enjoy is a bad camera. And boy, does it suck at times. From what I can tell, the camera is supposed to follow a track as you progress through each level. But that track can be rather easy to break and lose sight of your character. Sometimes I would purposefully fall off of a cliff to try to find something new. Other times it would be by pure accident. Every single time it was annoying. Maybe more points for the camera to snap to would solve this issue.
Who am I?
One fascinating portion of Etherborn is its attempt at a story. With the completion of each section, a story is told via a mystical voice emanating from the object you see below. While it is rather intriguing and well told, the game does not give enough time for the story to develop. 2 hours is just not enough. More levels and time would solve this issue. But as it stands now, I don’t think the narrative matters.
Honestly, an increase in levels would alleviate most of the problems that have been listed so far (and more to come).
Hint, hint Altered Matter.
With what time and the number of worlds given, the story doesn’t feel right. Being a story of how man came to be, ranging from humanities first thoughts to how the languages of the world developed. I know I sound like a broken record, but if they wanted this story to have more meaning and importance, Altered Matter should have developed more game time. It feels out of place for most of Etherborn, at least until the last level rolls around.
I’m not surprised the audio is great, for the most part. The music is pleasant to listen to, giving a nice atmosphere to this world. The sound effects have a nice echo to it, showing how alone you are. The one issue I did find, however, its the voice acting. No, it’s not the quality of the job, but the volume of the voice. There is no setting allowing you to adjust the voices as you see fit. Because of this, I had to adjust my headphones to avoid being deafened. A simple update can change this, so I am not too worried about this.
A Puzzle for You?
If you are a person who enjoys puzzles, I recommend Etherborn. Same for the people who want to play smaller games in passing. But for everyone else, I can not bring myself to make a recommendation for this. There is just not enough here for the average gamer.
- THE GOOD
- Puzzles are solid
- The audio makes me happy
- THE BAD
- Game is too short
- Camera angles can be bad
If you are a person who enjoys puzzles, I will give it a recommendation. Same for the people who want to play smaller games in passing. But for everyone else, I can not bring myself to make a recommendation for this. There is just not enough here for the average gamer.