The Entropy Centre Review – Reverse-Engineered Ingenuity – Game Informer

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I don’t envy the developers of puzzle games. They have to create enough puzzles to be challenging and exciting, but not so much that players feel more burdened than empowered. The best walk of that line is almost there, and The Entropy Center is full of them. But The Entropy Center is much more than just its brain teasers, and it’s “more” where the game kicks off its stumbling block. Despite this, its basic design is unlike anything I’ve played before, and genre enthusiasts will find that the game makes their minds worth experiencing in a whole new way. I only wish that the game’s speed and brightness lived up to the thrill that its more than 60 puzzles gave me.

Since the reveal of The Entropy Center earlier this year, developer Stubby Games has been pretty clear in its inspirations. This sci-fi game unfolds in an abandoned brutalist facility where you solve puzzles coded primarily with orange and blue. Oh, and there’s an AI with a bubbly personality and a dry, deadpan sense of humor. Naturally, my mind immediately compares it to Valve’s Portal series, and on the gameplay front, The Entropy Center succeeds.

Aria wakes up in an abandoned Moon facility called the Entropy Center to find that Earth will experience a cataclysmic event at any given minute. This happens and due to Earth’s destruction, the space facility is now in danger of blowing up, and Aria must stop it. To do so, he must solve puzzles with his AI-powered gun, Astra, to charge the station with entropy so that its time-reversing device can prevent Earth’s apocalyptic disaster from happening in the first place. This premise immediately caught my attention, and I loved reading emails on the center’s various computers before Entropy paused to learn more about other apocalyptic events.

The story adds to that premise, Aria and Astra’s location in it, and these in-world emails put together a neat warning that without thinking ahead, no outside force can help Earth survive; If we, the human race, do not work together, our world will die. I just wanted the pace of the game not to dampen any extreme feelings I might have felt otherwise. At times I felt like I was reaching the game’s big “a-ha” moment, only for it to challenge me for another bout of fun. And while I loved trying to solve each puzzle as a separate example, I didn’t like how often they felt like tedious obstacles during the third act of the game. The whole experience feels bloated as a result, and I feel exhausted more than anything when the credits roll in. Still, though, that bloated third act is offset by the two-thirds before it which are the best games in the genre that are interesting and engaging.

The game’s dozens of puzzles all revolve around special cubes. You place these cubes on the pad to power the lift or open gate. Some cubes do nothing on their own. Others act as jump pads to help you reach higher platforms, or as bridges to help you cross gaps. The Entropy Center continues to deliver new types of cubes over the course of the 15-hour experience, and I met each with enthusiasm to see how it could rearrange my brain’s puzzle-solving toolbox. Cubes alone won’t reveal your solution, though – you need Astra. This gun can reverse time on a single object by 38.1 seconds and as a result, every obstacle becomes one where you must first imagine how a sequence of events should go and then reverse it in your head so that You can find out how to set it up above. Simply put, solving a puzzle at The Entropy Center requires that you determine where you need to end and work backwards to find the beginning.

By the end, I was solving puzzles using multiple cubes, all of which did different things, and felt like a genius as I saw various time-reversal paths where I needed them. At first it hurt my brain – a lot – but I quickly learned the rules by which The Entropy Center worked, and as a result I found an entirely new type of puzzle.

Sometimes, I’d lose five minutes of progress because a cube disappeared into the wall, forcing me to start the entire sequence all over again. There was nothing more frustrating than seeing a cube burrow into the wall before it completely disappeared. The game also took a complete toll on me at times. Ultimately, though, the satisfaction I got from solving each puzzle far outweighed the frustrations I experienced.

With The Entropy Center behind me, I’m thrilled with what Stubby Games achieved with its debut. It’s full of excellent puzzles, but the things around them, like bugs and narrative pacing, keep the whole package from coming together in an equally impressive way. Despite the exhaustion I felt credit had rolled in, I’m stunned The Entropy Center exists. It brings something unique and new to the genre, and I hope Stubby Games continues on that in a sequel, spin-off or spiritual successor. It’s not every day that a game shows me something I’ve never seen before that it even nails it, and the good that The Entropy Center does is worth moving through its lengthy narrative so that Make sure you see every move up your sleeve.

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