Etherborn – Preview
Follow Genre: Gravity-shifting puzzler
Developer: Altered Matter
Publisher: Altered Matter
Platform: PC

Etherborn – Preview

Good: Challenging puzzles, beautiful design
Bad: Camera can influence your running direction
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Etherborn is developed and produced by Altered Matter, a young and small studio based in Barcelona. Even though it’s only their first project, they already received multiple awards and nominations for Etherborn. We have been given an alpha stage demo with a tutorial section and two full levels. Time to have a look what all the fuzz is about!

The demo is a bit short to be able to explain much of the story, but you are a conscious humanoid being that was just born into a (fictional) world. As you are guided by a bodiless voice, you embark on a mission to find your true inner self. To do this you must reach the source of that voice calling you. The voice is in Spanish, but luckily there are subtitles present. The mission tree is a real tree, in which paths are carved. These form the route you’ll need to follow. You’ll encounter blockages, which you can remove by doing the appropriate missions. These missions can be started by warping into the visible bubble next to a blockage.

Given Etherborn was in alpha stage, we weren’t expecting too much from the graphical quality. To our surprise however, we could already enjoy a beautiful environment. Your ‘being’ is a white humanoid shape with visible red arteries in the upper body. This gives the impression that you are some kind of mystical entity. You move over a 3D map, which is presented in several themes. We had a beautiful Greek temple styled environment which was quite large, and a more grassy one in which poisonous rivers and streams are flowing. These environments are contained within themselves and form a closed circuit in all directions, with some rocks and vast emptiness surrounding the walkable terrain. The terrains itself were beautiful and low-poly. Some bugs are present in which you can fall off and land on an invisible wall.

The tree you have to move around as sort of mission tree is a nice touch and quite good looking as well. The bubbles, with inside a glimpse of the map beyond, are also well done, but it’s a bit flat. It would be really beautiful if it could be a sphere… When doing missions, you sometimes have to collect polygons which then float around you until you placed them on any trigger plate. As you run faster, they lag a bit and trail you.

The background music is really good and fitting for Etherborn. A sort of tribal sounding jam with lot of rhythmic drums and soft strumming. The theme and melody are different per map as well. The most outstanding aspect is the voice acting however, a clear but soft Spanish voice is readying poetry like lines, and it works really well with the general atmosphere of this game. It is always nice to hear other languages in the primarily English spoken game business.

Etherborn is a gravity-shifting puzzler, best played with the controller. It’s a PC game but any of the major console brands controllers are supported. The controls are quite simple. You move around, sprint, jump or perform an action. Running in a straight direction can be hard because the camera can shift automatically, changing your course. This is a problem when running on small ledges. Performing actions in this demo are limited to gathering and releasing the polygons, but maybe it will have more use in the full game. The goal is to reach your ‘exit’ node by solving the puzzle parkour laid out before you. The quality of those puzzles are high and an unseasoned puzzler might need quite some time to complete even a small but complicated map. There are also larger maps in which you’ll need to keep an overview and run a lot more.

The gravity-shifting works as follows: going over a right corner makes you drop to the platform (or your character’s death if you miss it) below. Going over a rounded corner shifts gravity by 90°. The polygon orbs you need to collect are used to unlock bridges, shift structures or reveal passways. Those orbs are also used to subdivide the levels into smaller parts. They can be hidden or are only reachable after doing quite a parkour. A good thing is the many checkpoints spread over the area to which you respawn after making a wrong move.

Conclusion

Etherborn is categorized as a gravity-shifting puzzler. In reality, it is so much more! It’s a mind-blowing beautiful piece of art. One that might frustrate you for hours, but it’s intriguing enough to keep you hooked! We’re looking forward to the release date when we can experience more of this strange world. A must-have for puzzle addicts!

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Etherborn - Preview, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sander
Sander


Always having more things to do than time to do them, I like spending several of those precious free hours playing games and rating them.

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