If you are looking for a nice little puzzler you can finish on the weekend, Etherborn might be just right for you.
Etherborn is a brand new puzzle game from Altered Matter, a small studio from Barcelona. This is their first project.
You are a transparent humanoid form with some organs and veins showing through. The game starts with your birth into an abstract dreamlike 3D landscape. The gimmick of the game is gravity. Walk over the edge and you fall down. If you fall into nothingness or the ground is too far away you die. But if you find an arched edge you can walk over it and gravity shifts by 90 degrees. As you are running over „walls“ and „ceilings“ you find new places you couldn’t reach before.
Your goal is to reach the exit of each world. To get there you have to find some crystals that are spread across the world and need some exploring to collect. The crystals can be used at certain points to activate new paths.
There is not much of a story, but a bodiless voice accompanies you on your journey and gives you some philosophical background.
The game is a well done little puzzler. The first worlds teach you the mechanics. The premise of gravity shifting is quite nice. The music fits as well. If you have played your share of puzzle games you will not have much trouble progressing. For the most part, you just have to pay attention to where the arched edges are.
All the puzzle worlds are placed on some kind of world tree. After a few worlds I got back to the world tree, started to run to the next world and wondered how far I had gotten. I figured I may have completed ⅓ or maybe ½ of the game when I suddenly reached the end. The end of the whole game!
At this point I had only played around 2 hours and 45 minutes. And I was already done? Five small worlds in under 3 hours? That’s it?
As the game ends you are invited to play a game+ mode which contains the same levels, but now the crystals are either hidden or in positions that are more difficult to reach. That doesn’t offer that much more content. You can finish this second run in another 90 to 120 minutes, depending on how much time you need to find some hidden crystals.
And that is just not good enough for the current price tag of 16,99 Euro.
What I could have done without is the shitty pseudophilosophical undertone. That’s the same bullshit games like The Witness and The Talos Principle pulled. I don’t know which is worse: no story or pseudophilosophical crap. Yes, the puzzles are the main attraction. But it is not that difficult to either come up with a reasonable story – or do the philosophical part a lot better.
Also, I would have preferred to adjust the camera myself. It’s already 3D with shifting perspectives. Why can’t I position the camera the way I want? This is just nitpicking on my part, the camera is positioned just fine for the most part, but at certain points I would have liked to look around.
If you are like me and buy every other puzzle game you stumble upon, Etherborn is quite ok. You can spend some time and enjoy these gravity-based riddles. Etherborn is not that difficult. Everybody should be able to finish the game without too much hassle.
The real problem is the content/price tag. I understand that companies need to make some money with their games. But compared to other games five worlds in under 3 hours are not enough to justify the current price.
Verdict: If you don’t care about the price give Etherborn a try. Otherwise, wait for a sale.
Developer: Altered Matter
Publisher: Altered Matter
Published: 18. July 2019
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4, XB1