FEELS LIKE A STUDENT PROJECT BECAUSE IT IS
During Sony’s E3 Press Conference, one of the more surprising announcements was the reveal (and simultaneous release) of Entwined on the PlayStation 4. This was by no means an announcement from nowhere — early on in April, Sony trademarked the name of the title (along with KILL STRAIN). Though we took our guesses of what Entwined was going to turn out to be, no one was able to predict the Flower-eque entangled love story between a bird and a fish. How does Pixelopus’ fledgling game hold up against the indie competition?
Before I go into the review, an introduction to Pixelopus is in order. Not too much is known about the new group within Sony World Wide Studios, however we do know the following:
- Pixelopus consists of a mix of graduates from Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and the San Jose State University Animation and Illustration program.
- Pixelopus is led by Dominic Robilliard — previously the Design Director of such titles as Star Wars 1313 and The Secret of Monkey Island.
- The team is very international; out of the ten people on staff, there are five different countries of origin among them.
When I first picked up Entwined, I immediately felt a connection between the title and thatgamecompany’s Flower. Entwined utilizes a similarly stunning menu interface and includes some “deep” sounding trophies to accompany it.
The game, which is absent any dialogue or narration, begins with a clip of a bird and fish coming closer together. No words are needed; these two creatures are in love, yet are unable to truly ever be together. The point of the game and the gameplay is to bring the two together.
The gameplay is reminiscent of other on-rail rhythm titles like Audiosurf and Dyad — the player controls the blue bird with the right stick and the orange fish with the left stick. As blue or orange spaces come closer, you try to get the bird/fish to fly/swim into the zone. Do this enough times and you are able to merge the two characters into a dragon, opening a portal to the next level or “lifetimes”. Just like that I have explained the entirety of the game to you.
There are some clear issues with the title. First and foremost, the dragon ending sequence of each level seems merely like an afterthought–by the point you finish the level, you have already won. The dragon section doesn’t really build to anything substantive.
The second criticism is one levied by reviewers everywhere: the game is just too short. For a $10 downloadable title, I wasn’t expecting the world. However, the game lasted me little over an hour an half. I had a fun time playing Entwined and the core gameplay is fun and intuitive–there just isn’t enough!
Breaking off from the negatives, it is worth noting the game is beautiful on every front. Not only are the level design and graphics stunning, but the soundtrack gives Flower a run for its money–not an easy task, to say the least.
To add some length to Entwined, the developers added a Challenge mode that lets players try for top scores. The gameplay is fundamentally the same, however after missing three zones your turn is up. This is the mode I spent the majority of the time on — the race for high score quickly became an addiction much like Flappybird.
The Verdict: 5.8 out of 10
Entwined is not a bad game — it is merely a game that feels like a concept project being done by students. And in reality, that is what Entwined is. The title fits a little too uncomfortably between an indie experience (Flower) and pure gameplay (Dyad) which often leaves the player wanting more. While I may recommend waiting for a sale, if you are looking for a title with beautiful graphics and music and have some extra pocket money lying around, this is your game.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Lou Contaldi is MONG’s Nintendo Specialist and senior editor. You can follow his incoherent ramblings at Twitter.
This review is based on a game that was independently purchased at full retail price. The reviewer has played 5 hours within the past week.