22nd Jul2019

Digital Shorts: ‘Etherborn’ Review (PS4)

by Britt Roberts

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition Britt takes a look at Etherborn, a new platformer available now on all formats.

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A 3D gravity-based platformer, Etherborn is a taxing and yet mellow Sunday afternoon type of game with some very clever level design on show that really gives it character.

You play a stylised human character seemingly made of living glass that traverses a 3D landscape in search of orbs that act as power for various switches dotted around. The whole game is based on making progress through these rotating, linear and yet intricately moulded levels which are separated by cut scenes featuring a breathy narrator spouting melodramatic existentialism, which to be honest I found a bit cringeworthy. Lines like ‘humans are but a raindrop in an ocean’ and the like seeming a bit heavy-handed against the gently orchestral rolling score and understated gameplay of Etherborn.

Each stage is relatively short and compact but the level-design gets the grey-matter pulsating with the gravity-altering shifts in place. You can fall off sheer surfaces but curved edges allow you to shift the gravitational plane, meaning you can traverse pathways by approaching from different angles. There were more than a few ‘Eureka!’ moments as certain sections clicked for me and I made it through to the next part of the level, the required amount of orbs in tow.

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A gently-paced game that takes up around 4-5 hours, Etherborn was a day well-spent for me, the calming music and clever platforming really worked for the mood I was in when I started playing and some frame-rate issues aside when the camera is fully-zoomed out (which doesn’t happen often) and some moments when the thumb-stick feels overly sensitive as the camera corrects itself and your direction of movement changes, there’s not many other cons about this contemplative romp. Just don’t expect to find subtlety in the story.

Etherborn is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

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