Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4
Having your game up on stage at E3 must always be a nerve-wracking experience for developers, but when it’s your debut game? Pixelopus must have been terrified. Entwined was announced on stage at Sony’s E3 2014 press conference and released the very same day on the PSN Store, which came as a surprise to many. With the absence of a game from Thatgamecompany, the developers of Flower and Journey, Pixelopus seemingly looked to fill those boots in the form of Entwined. For saying that this is Pixelopus’ first game, Entwined is an absolutely fantastic debut.
You play as two characters in Entwined, a bird and a fish, who are in love with each other but cannot be together. It is the player’s objective to bring these two creatures together throughout nine levels to create a dragon. You control the bird and the fish using the two thumb sticks, one for each character. The player must navigate the characters through a tunnel filled with glowing orbs and different shapes which the creatures must be guided through to bring them closer together. The left side of the screen represents the sea, and the right side of the screen represents the air. Both the bird and the fish can only be navigated around their own hemisphere in the tunnel, which cements the fact that these lovers can’t be together. However at certain points, our lovers do come together to pass through certain objects in the tunnel, at which point they let out small chirps as if they are in adoration of each other. Unfortunately there is not a lot of diversity in Entwined’s gameplay, as the player will find themselves flying through very similar patterns throughout the game, and it not until the final levels that we see any new patterns introduced to challenge the player. It would have been nice to see some more variety introduced earlier on in the game to cut out any repetition. Entwined’s story is simply and easy to understand, much like its gameplay. Navigating the two lovers through a variety of locations is a joy, it’s easy to fall in love with Entwined and its world within minutes.
Entwined’s visuals are very reminiscent of games such as Rez and Child Of Eden, and they are just as beautiful here too. The psychedelic artwork will suck you into Entwined’s world straight away and won’t let go until you’ve finished the game, it is quite simply stunning and a pleasure to look at and explore. This is one of the most visually striking games currently available on the PlayStation 4, and it would be a shame for any player to miss out on it.
Another place in which Entwined really excels is its soundtrack, which gives each level a different feel and mood. The opening four or so levels of Entwined feature very fast-paced electronic music, which helps to excite the player and make them want to progress further into the game. In the later levels, Entwined takes on a more relaxed tone with its music. This is done with a piano, as well as stringed and percussion instruments to relax the player. Each level has its own unique soundtrack and look, and this is where the main variation in the games comes from, as the gameplay generally stays the same, only differing in a higher difficulty in later levels. This diversity is what excites the player, the first time you hear a new song or a new environment is a real treat in Entwined, and it is what will keep you coming back for more.
Unfortunately Entwined is let down a little in its technical area, as we suffered multiple freezes throughout our time with the game. At the beginning of every level, the game will freeze for a second or two. This can also happen at random points throughout the game with no clear reason why. While this is a minor annoyance, it can take you out of the experience a little and remind you that this is just a game. It would be nice to see these freezes fixed in a later update.
Entwined is extremely short; we finished the game in an hour and this is likely going to put many people off buying the game at full price. While that is understandable, this feels like the right length for Entwined. Within that hour, you will traverse nine different environments all with a unique feel and the gameplay does not become repetitive or boring at any point. An hour is just enough to get everything you want out of Entwined, but also leave you wanting to see more from this upcoming developer. Upon completion of the game, a challenge mode is unlocked where you can compete on online leaderboards for the highest score on five different levels. This extends the game’s life a little more beyond Entwined’s story, and gives the player more content to explore. These challenges get considerably harder as you progress through them and offer a much tougher challenge than what we experienced in the game’s story. This challenge mode is a very welcome addition and gives the best Entwined players a place to show off their skills and compete for the top spot on the leaderboard.
Despite its shortcomings, Entwined is a visually stunning game that gives the likes of Rez and Child Of Eden a real run for their money. The gameplay is interesting enough that it will keep you captivated throughout the nine levels and the challenge mode gives the player that little bit of extra content. The soundtrack is one that will long stay in our heads because of its beauty and the way it interacts with the levels themselves, setting a certain mood for every level. The freezes at the beginning and within levels were an annoyance, but they weren't enough to upset our enjoyment of the game. Entwined blends its gameplay, visuals and soundtrack into one beautiful piece of art that should be experienced by anyone who has the chance to play it.