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Indie Games Uprising III: Entrophy

Of all the titles played so far as part of Indie Games Uprising III this is the first that doesn’t take influence from and use a retro aesthetic. This 3D puzzler has a more modern approach.

It begins with a lonely wall. Cast as a brick in this wall it’s just another day observing the world pass by. Then a red orb appears, and then a blue one. They begin pulling blocks away from the wall with special electricity, toying with them. Finally they leave, but not before a baby pink one appears, a distant tune playing from within it. Though it has no face it clearly turns towards you. A bolt of electricity fires from it and strikes you. You are alive.

In what could be the first video game where you play a brick from a wall, the pink orb awaits for you to approach with a sense of both fascination and dread. As you move closer it screeches and flies away, carrying with it the sound of an old wind-up musical box out of tune.

Inspired by Valve’s design ethos, most particularly that of Portal, Autotivity does little wrong in concept. The fluorescent orbs stand vibrant against the grey walls. Patches of grass are alive and react to you moving through them. While jumping and movement has a light, floating feel to it there’s no time when this becomes a hindrance.

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As this lonely slab of concrete follows the apparition like a new born to its mother in the wild, there are a series of puzzles that need to be resolved to progress. At first these are simple in design, from manoeuvring across platforms to pushing metal balls onto weighing scales, which then power local electricity and provide access to new locations.

Soon the difficulty increases with several generators requiring power in multiple rooms. To help out, there are a number of balls to be physically pushed and moved, all with varying purpose. There are metallic balls of molten lava, acidic ones, balls of water that can cool objects and so forth.

All of these ideas do work in their basic means; however, Entropy eventually over stays its welcome with puzzles that don’t feel rewarding, others that can be skipped completely and a repetition of the same grey walls. And it’s grey. Very, very grey. Creating separation through variations in sound and construction would have made this a more fantastical journey, but strangely there’s no feeling of progress here.

A slow rewind function is available rather than restarting any failed attempts. This feature is used a lot as progress is made, whether due to your own faults or interference from other orbs. However, some areas are multi-layered and require certain tasks to be completed in the correct order. Failure to do so will punish the poor brick by refusing to inform him, leading to situations where he’ll blindly roam the halls looking for a solution that isn’t there. A restart is then the only option. And when achieving the prerequisite goals it’s often not clear where the exit is due to the plethora of the colour grey.

Entrophy runs out of steam due to its monotonous environments, unrewarding puzzles and minor variation.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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