In a gaming world saturated with fast-paced combative adventures assaulting your senses, Etherborn is a video gaming Little Book of Calm.
Rather than Michael Bay-esque explosions, gore and a cacophony of gunfire, spells, vehicles and over the top scores; Etherborn invites you to soak yourself calm or add a dab of lavender to milk…
In Etherborn, you (a being in waiting), explore a seemingly simple low-poly world. A soft, cryptic narrator’s voice offers hints at great truths and deep meaning while your avatar follows what at first appears to be a straightforward, linear path.
Complexity makes itself apparent as you realise that your preconceptions of gravity do not apply here. Down is not a fixed direction, it’s where your feet are pointing. Suddenly a curved surface leads you to walk on what you thought was the wall or the ceiling.
Soon you are circumnavigating carefully designed large 3D objects and environments in order to find your way forward.
Etherborn is a contemplative puzzle game; there are no time limits, no side quests, no game over.
It features an environment that forces you to think about how your actions will affect your future. You’ll need to think about how much of the area you may have to traverse or re-traverse if you leap off a certain ledge or open a particular gate.
Slow & Steady
The pace, or lack thereof, is relaxing and allows a player to simply sit and consider what they will do next. The pensive, almost meditative score of Etherborn greatly enriches the ponderous atmosphere, lending nuance to the various environments players encounter.
The low-poly art style of Etherborn seems to be an excellent and deliberate choice. It conveys the notion of a world unfinished, which seems important to the narrative. This sparse style also allows for a very pretty game while not oversaturating the environment with detail that might obscure important puzzle components.
The camera angles are also very well considered and move cinematically according to the player’s position on the map. At first, I found this frustrating, wanting to be able to control the camera myself but I realised that the angles form part of the puzzles and often provide hints on how to proceed. This can be a great help at times.
Etherborn’s puzzles are straightforward and very easy to overthink. Sit back and pay attention to your environment and what the camera is showing you will often reveal that the solution is right in front of you. Occam’s Razor is a principle that very much applies to Etherborn.
So far I have really enjoyed what Etherborn has to offer. It’s a quiet, contemplative experience that provides a great change of pace from today’s somewhat frantic triple-A gaming atmosphere.
Etherborn is scheduled for release on PC and current generation consoles sometime in 2019.
Etherborn was previewed on PC using a digital code provided by Altered Matter.