The definition of ethereal is “someone or something that is light, airy or heavenly”. Coming in at 310 pounds I’m certainly not the definition of that person. So when a game named “Etherborn” comes across my desk I’m not overly inclined to immediately jump on it. I’m known for being the “puzzle game” guy around the office so when I saw the words “puzzler” involved then my interest was highly elevated. This is our XBoxOne review of Altered Matter‘s Etherborn.
Etherborn is best described as an environmental, gravity-defying puzzler/platformer hybrid. Your in-game avatar is a voiceless female that has transparent skin and no facial features. You look akin to Marvel Comics’ young mutant named Glob Herman whose skin is also completely transparent. With Glob Herman we see his bones and organs. With your avatar, we see lacey bones and sometimes what passes for blood vessels.
The object of Etherborn is to get to the end of the current level by running and jumping and collecting “glowing globes” that kind of act as keys to open up the next level, open a bridge across a large chasm, etc. In this game, though what’s up quickly becomes what’s down.
You are able to scale walls, in some cases, and twist the perspective of your environment to collect your needed globes and make it to the level’s end. It’s like the whole screen is on an axis. You navigate your runner to manipulate the perspective. You need to find the place to go uphill or downhill that causes the environment to rotate to get to your endpoint. This is where the “puzzle” part of the game comes in. A lot of times it’s just being observant. Without divulging spoilers there are other dynamics involved as well.
As far as a challenge, there is danger involved in Etherborn. For example, scaling a wall, where your body is horizontal while on your feet, may mean going too far left or right causes you to “fall”. Thankfully, there appeared to be no penalty for falling other than, perhaps, not earning an achievement. The challenge comes in the form of thought-provoking “aha” moments as you’ll need to figure out how to alter your forward trajectory to get to the other side of a wall.
There are cut scenes where the narrator is trying to convey a story but it’s told in an unnecessarily complex way, perhaps to convey an air of omniscience? To me it didn’t matter much I just wanted to get to the next level/puzzle.
The only complaint with Etherborn really is the game is currently pretty short in length. There are achievements as mentioned but one playthrough can probably be accomplished in anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. On all platforms, it looked like the game was going for $16.99 USD so for an average of $4 USD an hour, you’ll need to make that call on a short but otherwise excellent game.
Compare To: I can’t say that this game is like any other game I’ve played. If you enjoyed either of these below though you should also enjoy Etherborn:
Reviewed with a code provided by PR on Xbox One. Also available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.