I’ve clocked a few hours in the sci-fi puzzle adventure from Stubby Games, and a few hours is not nearly enough. As I usually lean toward fantasy realms rather than star bases, that’s an impressive feat. The tone, challenges, characters, and narrative in the opening hours of the game have all thrusters firing. Even with a little room for improvement, The Entropy Centre is setting itself up to be a fantastic experience.
And it begins with the end of the world.
Trapped in a area that defies all logic, I take halting steps down a flooded, floating aisle. Piles of levitating debris cover the vast ocean around me. Palm trees, desk chairs, and chunks of rock line up along my path which leads to a view of the Earth. Getting closer, I begin to see glowing dots intensify on the globe, and then, catastrophic failure. My home planet is obliterated.
But since this is only the beginning of the game, I wake up. Called by a robotic voice that somehow knows my name, I get out of bed and realize I have no idea where I am. It’s a great narrative start, and my curiosity drives me on. And the game keeps me on the hook for a while. The once state-of-the art facility I find myself in has obviously seen better days as trash, dirt, and paperwork spill across every overgrown surface. With little explanation, but just enough direction, I come across a device that allows me to rewind time, with limits. It only works on objects, and the time range is restricted to about 30 seconds.
The gun-like apparatus is also alive with personality. Talking AI campaigns in games can be hit or miss, but here, Astra, as it instructs me to call it, walks the perfect line of guidance and humor. One of the many services it provides is “emotional support,” which includes playing clapping sounds when it thinks I need a boost. The juxtaposition of deadly scenarios and a robot cheering me on is consistently funny. Astra also plays smartly into the game design by making my objectives clear and acting as a kind of tutorial system.
With a few easy demonstration puzzles, like reconstructing a broken staircase and moving a block to open a door, I’m on my way to finding out what’s happening. The puzzles get more difficult, and so far, more rewarding to solve. Introducing elements like the jump cube, and launcher also add interesting wrinkles to your tasks.
My initial reason for solving these puzzles is just to find someone, anyone, else that can explain what’s going on. But the entire structure is essentially a giant escape room, built to harness employees’ problem-solving juices — or more the scientific sounding Entropy Energy. However, on my search, things take a turn for the worse. Sirens sound. Lights flash. A recorded voice comes over the intercom system insisting Earth is about to undergo a world-ending event and all personal need to make their way to the control room. That will light a fire under you real fast.
Then the developers throw an action sequence at me which requires all the time-controlling skills I just learned. I keep pillars from squashing me, walkways from crumbling underfoot, and faulty panels from electrocuting me, all the while running for my life. The gameplay works relatively smoothly and the section is laid out well, making for an intense and memorable experience.
Reaching my destination, I find more questions than answers. I discover my dream mirrors reality, and the Earth truly is on the brink of annihilation. By some strange twist of fate, it’s my job to generate enough energy by solving puzzles to save it. But can I do it in time? What happened to all the people that used to keep this operation running? And, most importantly, what did they do to the office cat? With my entropy gun in hand, I’m ready to find out.
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