Having recently purchased a PS4, I decided that I needed to see some of the games that were available for it. Looking around on the PSN Store I found Entwined, a game I recall seeing at the E3 press conference just a few months ago. The game has a similar mechanic not unlike my own where players control two characters on screen at once ensuring that they’re pushed to the limits in getting the hang of controlling two independent characters. The game was only £6.49, and cross compatible on PS3, PS Vita and PS4, so I decided to take the plunge, as I recall the game was made by a bunch of University students that I can’t help but feel aren’t too dis-similar to myself, and at the end of the day, £6.49 for me is nothing, but that could make the world of difference to the team over at Pixelopus.
The game entails taking control of both a orange fish and a blue bird, both of which could be considered opposites in the sense of one is underwater, the other is in the sky, one is orange, with its opposing colour being blue. You control both the fish and the bird by moving the analogue sticks on the controller around the screen, each analogue stick corresponds to a character, the left is the fish, the right in the bird. Both characters have their own portion of the screen by which they’re meant to collect orbs and go through “gates” in the correct order to get their own meters up (found at the top of the screen). Once both characters have their respective meters up, they’ll then be able to attempt to combine into one being. I say attempt, as you’ll need to fly through a few more gates in order to successfully combine the character, failure to do so will result in continuing to replay the level until you get the meters full again.
There are two game modes to play in Entwined: Story and Challenge. Story encompasses playing through many different themed levels, without much story to actually go on. Every stage starts and finishes in exactly the same way, with no narration or any cinematics to actually point you in a direction by which to then make the story up for yourself. This isn’t a bad thing per-se, but means that the story isn’t actually a story at all, and is more of a campaign than an actual narrative. The challenge mode is more akin to something you’d find on a mobile phone, with the same levels that you played on story coming back, but this time endless and score based rather than the amount you fill your meter up by. I found this mode extremely hard, with your characters only being allowed 3 mistakes before its game over and you have to start the challenge again. It’s good for a challenge (I suppose the mode does what it says on the tin), but isn’t so great that I’d spend hours trying to do the same level over and over again.
Each level is never ending, so Entwined could be likened to a mobile game, but where its mechanics may be simple, its graphics and art are certainly a step beyond what mobile can do at the moment. The art style has a vision, and as much as the geometry of characters and the environment look abstract in its uses of squares and circles to create objects, it all looks so polished and so post-processing heavy that you know this couldn’t be done on anything weaker than a dedicated games console.
The music and sound track were absolutely fantastic, with notes carefully being played as you progress through gates. Missing gates or orbs will result in the soundtrack glitching for a second, which is brilliant for portraying the mistake you just made. Each environment had it’s own sound and aesthetic, meaning that you never really got bored as you explored these new environments, something which sounds crazy considering how basic some of the geometry looks.
All in all, I enjoyed my time with Entwined. I’m not sure if it’s completely great value for £6.49 considering how little gameplay there is and how often levels/assets are reused, but I can’t help but support my fellow indie developers, especially ones that managed to get up on the E3 stage last year and show off their creation to the world with such confidence it made me jealous and more motivated to pursue my own games design. By all means purchase Entwined when it’s on sale for £3 or below, but be warned if you spend more, it feels like a mobile game through and through.