Editorials

Review: Etherborn

Etherborn is a puzzle platformer that will have you looking to uncover the next gravity-shifting move to unearth the next stage within a magical tree. The last difficult puzzle platforming adventure that I embarked on was Longbow Games’ Golem, which started off very simple and then took a sharp turn towards very complex and challenging situations. We will take a look to see if the puzzles within Etherborn offer a well-balanced difficulty and a memorable experience.

While confusing at times, Etherborn focuses on a humanoid form who is searching for the ethereal voice to uncover the very meaning behinds its existence. In order to achieve this knowledge, players must complete five stages that appear as they explore the branches of the Endless Tree. While the narrative tries to offer an immersive experience, I simply found myself more pre-occupied with solving each puzzle than following along with the cut-scenes that appear at the completion of each area.

You are introduced to a beautiful world where you must traverse each landscape to acquire orbs that grant you passage to the next area. The level design features unique and creative gravitational shifts that will keep players on the edge of their seats from start to finish. You are initially greeted with a flat piece of terrain, but moving towards a rounded, or sloped, edge will shift the gravity and tilt your perspective to an entirely new environment. A keen eye for detail will be required to solve each puzzle, making each successful interaction significantly more rewarding.

The puzzles are some of the most well thought out and executed ideas I have witnessed in a platforming puzzle adventure to date. They will require you to think logically in order to understand the flow of sequences that need to occur before arriving at the end of each stage.

You will repeatedly encounter orbs that seem easy to retrieve, but simply jumping or falling onto them will not work. You will need to explore and search for a sloped edge to alter the gravity so you can look at the problem from a different point of view. Trial and error plays a large role within Etherborn as players utilize their problem solving skills to overcome numerous obstacles such as pools of acid and barriers that arise due to your close proximity. Each stage offers a refreshing, and more sophisticated, puzzle that needs to be solved.

Etherborn also offers a visually stunning performance. Its simplistic design alongside a minimalistic colour palette that contrasts specific landscapes perfectly help intensify the atmospheric presence that the developer sought out to create. The soundtrack is also noteworthy as it keeps players relaxed throughout moments of internal struggle when trying to figure out the next step. The only shortfall of Ethernborn is that it only consists of five chapters to play through, giving players around two to four hours of gameplay.

Verdict

Etherborn offers a very unique and rewarding platforming puzzle experience that will test your logic as you manipulate gravity to collect orbs situated across multi-sided environments. It is recommended to take your time solving puzzles as it will let you appreciate the visuals and stellar level design while extending the two to four hour game time. Etherborn comes recommended as it offers players a refreshing take on puzzle adventures.

[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]

The Good
  • Fun but challenging puzzles
  • Great level design
  • Spectacular atmosphere due to visuals and soundtrack
The Bad
  • Lackluster narrative
  • Short adventure as there are only five stage
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