Etherborn is now available, and it offers up some unique twists on the platforming, exploration, and puzzle video game genres. This is thanks to its brilliantly designed, and challenging levels, which are the puzzles themselves due to how gravity affects the player at each an every turn.
The game also looks and sounds beautiful, and its story is presented in a very Journey-esque manner, so one could definitely call it high art. Please check out my full review in video or written formats below.
“Hey now fans of mind bending puzzle games, Matt Heywood here to review Etherborn, or what I like to call a gravity infused Rubix cube on steroids.
Etherborn is a very artistic looking game that pits players against some insanely impressive environmental puzzles as they guide a blank soul on a journey to find its conscience. It’s story is very serene, yet somber, but greatly bolstered by the excellent soundtrack, which is unique for each level you must complete.
The gameplay is described as being gravity shifting with puzzle, exploration, and platforming elements, and Etherborn’s challenges definitely live up to the billing. I wouldn’t describe it as anything you’ve played before in this interesting genre either, so it feels rather fresh to experience.
There are no real enemies to avoid, or defensive or offensive attacks to care about, rather you’re tasked with exploring a level from top to bottom by completing environmental puzzles that are the levels themselves.
That’s right, each of the levels you come across are the puzzles thanks to how gravity comes into play, and the design of the level itself. You see, in Etherborn, you become attached to any surface you can walk or jump on, as long as there is some sort of ramp or drop off point to get you on a flat surface.
This in turn makes the game feel like a living Rubix cube as you progress through a level and experience all of the perspective shifts and gravity changes meant to mess with your mind. The map literally feels different with every jump, walk, or run to a new surface, so like each twist of a Rubix cube can fundamentally change the look of the cube, the same can be said about Etherborn’s levels as you make your way through them.
The challenges ramp up with each new level, and the requirement to gather orbs to open up new paths in a level really provide for some brain twisters. At times your eyes and brain will fight each other while trying to decipher how you can reach a seemingly out of reach orb to collect. This is where the brilliance of Etherborn’s level design and game mechanics shine, because you will see an orb and think in your heart it should be simple to get, yet the challenge of getting there will at times make your brain distrust your eyes and vice versa.
I found the difficulty to ramp proportionately from start to finish, and you definitely will get stuck at times, but like most good puzzle games do, Etherborn’s secrets eventually became clear to me after “A-HA” moments each time I got stuck, so while I’d get pissed at times and swear the game was broken, the game always managed to surprise me with my own ability to work through a visual brain buster.
Etherborn does also rely on some platforming, but unfortunately it’s the weakest aspect of the gameplay. You’re asked to do some pretty legit timed jumps, as well as jumps between tiny landing pads, and most of the time the protagonist gets a little floaty while making these jumps, so I found myself having to replay precarious platforming sessions over and over due to the mechanics not being as tight as they could. Overall though, it’s not a huge issue as pure exploration makes up for most of the level traversal anyway.
Etherborn is an 8 out of 10 type of game, so if you’re into games that provide a deep experience without many words spoken, or ones that offer up unique takes on puzzle based, gravity infused gameplay, then Etherborn is well worth a try, especially for $16.99. It’ll give you anywhere from 2-5 hours of gameplay depending on your brain matter, and there’s a Game+ mode that makes the game even harder, so there’s replayability.
Thanks for watching, I’m Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.”
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