The Entropy Center Review – A Pleasant Surprise

The Entropy Centre is a surprisingly great game with well made puzzles and unique ideas, though it could have done with some much needed modern features.

Posted By | On 10th, Nov. 2022

The Entropy Center Review – A Pleasant Surprise

Even after so many years since its last release, Valve’s Portal series is still highly regarded as one of the best puzzle games around, thanks to a combination of excellent level design, engaging story, and unique mechanics. Many developers have since tried to replicate the same formula to varying degrees of success, and The Entropy Center certainly finds itself in that pursuit as well. Stubby Games’ latest is a game that wears its influences and inspirations on its sleeve with a badge of pride, and manages to create a compelling experience that’s as much as its own entity as it is a wonderful homage to the classics. The lack of some features do hamper the game’s quality by a margin, but it’s still a great package that manages to get so much right.

Set in a space station by the name of The Entropy Center, you wake up inside this abandoned facility with no recollection of the past. You also see the Earth shattered just before you wake up, and you are soon acquainted with Astra – a talking weapon that’s going to assist you throughout your adventure. Now, your player character Aria must get through dozens of puzzle rooms in an effort to uncover the mystery of what happened to Earth and how to reverse the cataclysm that destroyed it in the first place.

" The lack of some features do hamper the game’s quality by a margin, but it’s still a great package that manages to get so much right. "

While the story does follow Portal’s framework pretty closely, it soon becomes apparent that it’s really as much its own thing as it is a throwback to its inspirations. Aria is an interesting and likable character with oodles of charm, and the frequent banter that she exchanges with Astra remains enjoyable through and through. The writing is quality stuff, and everything from the usual dialogues to text logs scattered throughout the complex is filled with funny jokes and thought-provoking questions about the law of inevitability and other problems associated with manipulating the flow of time.

As Aria, you will need to solve puzzles spread throughout the center to gain entropy energy – which will charge a device that can reverse the flow of time and undo the cataclysm that destroyed the earth as we know it. The story manages to tread a fine line between exploring philosophical topics and the heroic nature of the protagonist. It’s a decent if not good story that starts out slow, but manages to pique your interest after a while.

On to the gameplay then, The Entropy Center is all about solving puzzle chambers through the help of Astra to progress through the story. Astra can be used to reverse the flow of time on select objects like blocks and pieces of debris, which must be manipulated to solve puzzles. You can reverse the flow of time up to a certain extent for every object, and you can also fire a shot to delete a previously recorded timeline for these objects. The puzzles are designed with these constraints in mind, and you must make judicial use of these limited tools to overcome obstacles.

the entropy centre

"The writing is quality stuff, and everything from the usual dialogues to text logs scattered throughout the complex is filled with funny jokes and thought-provoking questions about the law of inevitability and other problems associated with manipulating the flow of time."

The game starts out with easy challenges that require moving blocks and placing them on different platforms to progress, but it soon evolves into something much more complex. Each story introduces a new element like blocks that extend into bridges, time gates that delete the memory of every object if you pass through them, jump pads that launch you into the air, and so much more. The way The Entropy Center introduces these elements is really smart, with every new block being introduced in isolation where you can understand its workings in a vacuum before mixing it up with one or two other elements, which then leads to a chapter’s ultimate challenge where you need to use all blocks and elements in tandem with each other to pass through.

The difficulty ramps up gradually, and you never get the feeling that the puzzles are getting unfair or overtly complex in nature. The solutions are always simpler and more straightforward than you might think at first, and they reward careful thinking more than mechanical prowess. The Entropy Center has a nice balance between easy and tough in terms of difficulty, and you always feel clever for figuring out the solution to what at first seemed an insurmountable challenge.

It seems that many puzzles have multiple solutions, but the game never really rewards or punishes you depending on the chosen path. Apart from the time taken for completion, The Entropy Center never tracks any stats to know how well you solved a puzzle and I’d have liked to see some detailed stats and leaderboards to motivate me to try a more efficient approach to solve the problem at hand.

Of course, solving puzzle after puzzle in similar-looking corridors can get exhausting after a while – so it’s great that The Entropy Center puts some much needed attention to level variety. You get to explore outdoor areas, museums, and factories, and some sections swap out puzzle solving for some light combat encounters to set-piece escape sequences – which are nice distractions to shape things up. While these sections are easily the weakest sections of the bunch, they are welcome additions as they break the monotony of routine at just the required time.

It’s a shame then that The Entropy Center doesn’t put all that attention in terms of its presentation. The game world looks barren and lifeless (which is to be expected from an abandoned complex), but that also means that the game lacks an element of personality. It’s the same story with the soundtrack – it’s fine enough but nothing outstanding or extraordinary in any way whatsoever.

the entropy centre

"It’s a shame then that The Entropy Center doesn’t put all that attention in terms of its presentation. The game world looks barren and lifeless (which is to be expected from an abandoned complex), but that also means that the game lacks an element of personality."

On that note, the game could also have really benefited from a co-op mode or a level editor where players could use these blocks and elements to come up with whacky puzzles and share them with friends. Or the game could have a time trial mode with leaderboards where players could compete for best times or the most efficient solutions. But as it stands now, you only get to play through the single-player campaign which can take you anywhere from 10 to 15 hours – which is a big improvement when compared to similar games. But once you are done with it, there’s little reason to come back to it again – so the game does lack a sense of longevity.

All in all, these are just minor suggestions that could have really made The Entropy Center a much better experience. As it is now, The Entropy Center is a really well-made puzzle game that takes its main hook of reversing time, and casts a wide net of ideas surrounding that very theme – most if not all of which stick to the landing. The story is interesting with well-written characters, the puzzles are engaging with plenty of variety, and the developers constantly spice things up with chase sequences and other high-intensity moments. While the aforementioned shortcomings do leave a sour taste in the mouth, The Entropy Center is certainly one of the biggest surprises of 2022 – and fans of puzzle games like Portal should really consider it.

The game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5. 


THE GOOD

The story and characters are great with quality writing and banter; well-designed puzzles that are all based around a single hook of reversing time; set-piece moments break up the monotony.

THE BAD

Visuals are not the best; no co-op support or level editor to make players come back after finishing the campaign.

Final Verdict:
GREAT
The Entropy Center is an excellent puzzle game that's as much its own thing as it is an homage to the classics, and is easily one of the most pleasant surprises of 2022.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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