While it's impossible not to compare The Entropy Centre to its iconic predecessor, Portal, this well-crafted puzzler is worth a look for anyone that enjoys breaking the laws of physics.
- Title: The Entropy Centre
- Release Date: Nov-03 2022
- Price: $24.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Everyone 10+ (ESRB)
- Availability: Steam, Xbox Series X|S, Playstation 4|5
- Recommended for fans of: Portal, Puzzle Games
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
The Entropy Centre is a first-person puzzle game with platforming elements. The game's story begins in-media res. Aria, the player character, finds herself with amnesia and trapped in a derelict scientific facility, the titular Entropy Centre. In order to escape, she must solve a variety of puzzles and navigate crumbling structures to escape. Thankfully, she has one of the facility's inventions, a physics-manipulating gun, at her disposal to help her find her way to freedom.
If this premise sounds very familiar, that's because it is… Valve's 2007 classic, Portal, has almost this exact same setup. However, there's a key distinction between The Entropy Centre and its predecessor: the Portal gun manipulated space, and the Entropy gun manipulates time. By sending objects backward in time, Aria can solve a variety of puzzles and also repair damaged equipment throughout the Centre. In other words, the game's premise is just like Portal, but the way you accomplish your goals is very different.
In order to be a successful puzzle game, the puzzles need to be both cleverly designed and have a smooth difficulty curve. Fortunately, The Entropy Centre gets this right. At first, you're just using the time gun to move boxes onto switches to unlock doors. This simplicity is a good thing because manipulating an object through time is difficult to get your head around at first. Once you've got a couple of puzzles under your belt, the game adds more objects to play with (lasers, bridges, moving platforms, etc.) to increase the complexity. In my playthrough, I found that the first few puzzles only took a few minutes to solve. Later on, I was averaging around 20 minutes per puzzle, which was enough to feel like I was overcoming a considerable obstacle but never stuck.
Considering some of the tricky tasks the game asks you to perform, I was thankful that the controls were simple and snappy. Aria's movement feels quick and responsive and you can pull off some very precise maneuvers with the entropy gun. This is important because similar to Portal, understanding how to solve a puzzle is only half the battle. Being able to execute the solution, which will require quick aiming and platforming, is the other half. There are also a few action scenes that benefit from the tight controls. One of my favorite setpieces involved running across a collapsing catwalk by using the Entropy gun to reverse the course of the falling pieces.
Even though I didn't come to The Entropy Centre, for the story, I found myself feeling quite intrigued by Aria's predicament and the mysteries of the Centre. Figuring out the Entropy Center's purpose and how it came to be in such a state of disrepair added some enjoyable extra flavor to the adventure. I also appreciated the banter between Aria and her AI companion, Astra. Unlike Portal‘s GLaDOS, Astra is actually quite positive and encouraging while still adding comedic relief. This gave The Entropy Centre a hopeful tone in contrast to Portal‘s bleakness.
One area where The Entropy Centre disappointed a bit was in terms of puzzle structure variety. While the game may add new objects to play with as you progress, ultimately you use all of these objects to do one thing: hit switches to open doors. Over the course of 14 chapters with 4 or 5 puzzles each, the game comes up with an incredible number of variations on this concept but having more puzzles that broke the mold entirely would have been nice.
Considering the extent that you can manipulate physics in The Entropy Centre, the game is remarkably stable. However, I did encounter a few bugs. In one case, I got my character stuck inside the level geometry. In a few other cases, I somehow made interactive objects fall through the floor. These issues were mildly frustrating when they occurred but rare enough to be of little hindrance to enjoying the game.
The bottom line is that if you liked Portal, you should definitely try out The Entropy Centre. If you didn't like Portal, this game likely isn't for you either. If you somehow have read through this whole article but haven't played Portal, go do that first. Seriously, at the time of writing this article, it's on sale for 99 cents on Steam. After that, if you're still craving more, The Entropy Centre should be one of the games you get next.