There have been a few titles out there that have tried to replicate that Portal formula of offering clever puzzles with a quirky AI companion leading you on, but none have managed to hit the nail on the head quite as much as The Entropy Centre. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say it fully hits that perfect standard set by Valve’s beloved series and it doesn’t go quite as silly, but not many games do. It certainly manages to offer some excellent puzzling that feels unique to unravel though, whilst the plot kept me invested right until the very end.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The Entropy Centre puts players in the role of Aria, who finds herself waking up in the titular Entropy Centre completely unaware of how she got there or what is going on. It turns out you actually work for the company involved and are tasked with experimenting with a peculiar gun that can re-wind time on inanimate objects, with the goal being to find a way to save the Earth from an impending doom. Yep, there are some heavy stakes here, but with a comical AI ally leading you along, there’s no way things could go wrong… right?
Whilst the puzzling is undoubtedly the star of the show, The Entropy Centre’s narrative kept me invested and intrigued in the plight to save Earth from destruction. I always felt like I was discovering something new when exploring the facility, whilst the light-hearted interactions between Aria and the AI go a long way in ensuring there’s plenty of personality in the experience. There are some cool e-mails to uncover along the way that further expand the work that the centre has previously achieved too, which doesn’t only add more depth to the tale but also makes for some fun reading. Whilst there’s no denying the similarities between The Entropy Centre and Portal, the storytelling really does feel distinct.
When it comes to the puzzling, players will have to use their special gun in order to rewind time on objects in a multitude of ways. Something crumbled blocking your path? Blast it with your gun to see it take shape again. Need to see an object move between multiple pressure pads in a specific order? Move it between them all, then blast it with your gun to see it shift spaces freely as it goes back in time. I might have made it sound a little confusing there, but it’s all about using time to your advantage and thinking things through from a backwards perspective. It can be easy to figure out what you need to do to actually solve a puzzle, but when you’re turning time BACK on itself, you need to work in reverse.
“Everything just felt logical in the game, with a fair balance of difficulty that will leave players completely stumped in one moment but feeling especially smug when they have that ‘eureka!’ moment and solve a tricky enigma in the next.”
A lot of the puzzling is based around special cubes, with each of these having different properties that can affect the environment or allow Aria to reach inaccessible areas. They might provide power, launch Aria in the air, create bridges, or even blast lasers, with plenty of different elements at play when using them. Whilst earlier puzzles of The Entropy Centre are fairly straight forward, the larger scale of the later ones will keep players mind-boggled as they try to figure everything out. Fortunately, you can see the pathway that boxes will move when rewinding them in time, so it’s never difficult to keep track of the action even when using a multitude of boxes at once.
With different aspects like your cube’s powers changing mid-puzzle, the environment affecting a cube’s pathway, or vicious robots out to get you, there’s plenty going on throughout the entirety of The Entropy Centre to ensure it doesn’t run out of ideas. I found myself constantly surprised by its innovation, especially in the later levels that REALLY spice things up, whilst it never failed to get the simple things right either. Everything just felt logical in the game, with a fair balance of difficulty that will leave players completely stumped in one moment but feeling especially smug when they have that ‘eureka!’ moment and solve a tricky enigma in the next. It’s a very rewarding experience and it’s all owed to the excellent puzzle design.
Just be warned: there will be puzzles that will be completely baffling at first and seemingly impossible, with no solution working. However, as long as you remember to work out your solution in REVERSE, you should never be stuck for too long…
Check out some screenshots down below:
Presentation-wise, everything in The Entropy Centre looked pretty good, with some surprisingly picturesque scenes to be encountered along with the more typical sci-fi getup. I wouldn’t say it’s a stunning game, but there was plenty of detail to be found across the world to ensure it always remained fun to explore. And hey, seeing the time-reversing effects at play always impressed me, even in some of the simpler sequences.
The only real issue I came across was that the physics could glitch out a little at times, which could be a pain when mid-way through solving a puzzle. It was never a consistent issue that became a real problem, but the times when a cube would bug out when hitting an object or even get stuck in the environment could be annoying – especially when I’d have to restart a puzzle as a consequence of it.
The Entropy Centre Review
The Entropy Centre offers some brilliant puzzling that is complemented by a narrative that’s genuinely intriguing to see unravel. It never ran out of ideas throughout its roughly ten-hour runtime, whilst the satisfaction of solving one of the game’s trickier puzzles never subsided. I was constantly surprised at just how much variety it offered through its time-reversal, with the clever and rewarding puzzle design the best aspect of the whole game.
It does have a few little issues with the physics causing problems in puzzles at times, but they’re minor problems in what is otherwise an enthralling puzzle-fuelled experience.
Developer: Stubby Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One