If you were to ask me about my favorite puzzle games, one of the first ones that would come to my mind is The Witness. It’s bright and colorful, and it utilizes its environment to the fullest in the creation of puzzles. Though Etherborn isn’t entirely comparable to it, they share these similar aspects.
In each of Etherborn’s stages, you’ll be hunting for light orbs. When these orbs are placed on a switch, they alter the level in some way, often creating a bridge or moving a platform. While traversing the levels, you’ll also come across curved surfaces, which allow you to reorient gravity. Couple these with limited camera controls, and you’ve got a recipe for a puzzle game.
Each level has a unique environment that helps differentiate it from the rest of the game. Small new mechanics such as poison water get introduced as well, helping the levels always feel fresh even though the objective is always the same. However, the slow character movement and long walking distance between levels made the game drag on too much for my liking.
Thankfully, Etherborn is rather short, only taking a few hours to get through. If you’re really interested in playing it again, there is a New Game+ option that you can try. The only difference in this mode is that the orbs are hidden in harder-to-find places. If you want a bit of a harder challenge, you’ll find it here, though I wasn’t particularly driven to do this.
I did play it a little for review purposes, but a few of the early orbs were entirely hidden in random bushes and I wasn’t ingrained enough to spend any more time looking for them. The experience of playing through both versions of the first level was exactly the same, minus the increased frustration in New Game+. I wasn’t having enough fun to warrant continuing on. I think I would have had more fun with a longer game, rather than having two versions.
That isn’t to say Etherborn is bad; in fact, it’s fairly decent. The bright, simple level design and the soothing soundtrack were a joy to experience and stopped me from tearing my hair out over some of the harder segments. I enjoyed my time playing Etherborn, but I also didn’t feel anything special while doing so. If you’re really in the mood for a puzzle game, then Etherborn may be worth checking out, but outside of that, you won’t be worse off for skipping it.
A review code was provided by the publisher.