Developed by Altered Matter, Etherborn is an atmospheric puzzle game that mixes 3D platforming with complex conundrums.
The project first started in 2016 and has gradually grown into a gorgeously designed early build, with two of the five levels available to play at EGX.
What really stands out about Etherborn is the striking visuals: every detail is well thought out to tell a story. The player character is a glowing white translucent human body featuring illuminated organs that stand out against the colourful backdrops.
According to the lead art and level designer Samuel Cohen Kellner, the character design represents human fragility with the body’s goal of searching for a voice being the focus of the story.
Each level has a distinct style, with each map adding a new element—quite literally, in some cases, as the second playable stage demonstrated by adding flowing water that could drown the player. Each level acts as a puzzle by using curved edges that the player can walk over to alter the map’s orientation.
The change of perspective often reveals new areas and forces the gamer to think in three dimensions, akin to a Rubik’s Cube. At present, the puzzles within the levels follow a similar formula where the player must find glowing orbs to place on platforms that will alter the geometry of the map in some way or unlock a new section.
Another incredible addition to Etherborn is the soundtrack produced by Gabriel Garrido García. All of the maps will feature unique audio that brings further individuality to each experience. The soothing musical score combined with the pulled-back camera creates a real sense of loneliness and longing.
Not only is the distant view practical from a gameplay perspective by allowing the player to see the map as a whole, but it also highlights the idea that the character is searching for something.
Despite only featuring five levels, the length of these will increase over time and provide progressively more complex challenges. Kellner stated that a lot of effort went into designing the puzzles, with some taking months to finalise.
The level of detail and polish of the title more than makes up for the fairly limited gameplay. While not much is known about the other missions, the inclusion of water in the second that created a physical hazard to the player could be a hint at a more threatening presence being featured later on.
No official release date is readily available for Etherborn, but the team is hoping to get the game out for a spring 2019 release. Etherborn will be released on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One. Be sure to revisit our preview of the game from last year, too.