The mysticism of Ancient Egypt is something that will always have us wondering; how those Great Pyramids were made, what exactly are the curses that the ancient pharaohs placed on their tombs, and how many of those secrets they might hold. In games, developers have also embraced this amazing place in time from the early Tomb Raider games to the more recent Assassin’s Creed Origins. Hourglass is another that places us in the world of sand, sun, and the supernatural. It’s a game that combines the exploration of narrative adventures and the puzzling brain scratching of games like Portal. It’s a nice trip and here are the reasons why. 

hourglass review 1

In this first-person puzzle adventure, you play the part of Aywa who is the daughter of Arthur, a formidable archaeologist who on his last dig went and got lost in his adventures. All rescue teams have given up hope of ever finding him, but not you, not his daughter – who sets out to Egypt to retrace his footsteps and try to work out what he has discovered. Aywa finds something early on her adventure called the Great Gate and she knows her father was there. But the gate needs three seals to open. You know what to do next. 

The narrative and story of Hourglass are much more visual than text-heavy. There is some story told through text but in the main it’s mostly delivered through the sense of place and the gameplay. It’s a very effective way of storytelling which I enjoyed tremendously. But it’s the gameplay where the heart of the game lies. 

Those who have played games like Portal or The Turing Test will know what to expect from a game like this, even though from the outside it may look like an open-worlder, it’s very much a level-by-level game. There are a couple of areas where you can choose which puzzle to solve first, but mainly it’s quite clear about what journey to take. The puzzles themselves focus mostly on doorways or pathways that you’ll need to open by triggering switches; some you can stand on, but the moment you move away the door will close. It’s here where you will need to utilise a cube to put on it, in order to progress. It’s all standard fare for anyone familiar with puzzle games of this type. But there is one completely original gameplay technique included. 

hourglass review 2

Portal-type machines are scattered around the place and these do something unique when you go through them – a carbon copy version of yourself goes out into the world and can jump, use switches, and do all the things that Aywa can do. This version is only allowed to be in the world for a limited amount of time, so you need to use it wisely. For example, the simplest example of using this gaming mechanic is to put the carbon copy of yourself onto a trigger which makes the doorway open. The real you will then rush through the open doorway before the time runs out. Simple yes? Well to start with, it is, but as the game progresses the solution to these puzzles gets harder and harder. Mastering this single mechanic is a real must in Hourglass and you need to think out of the box on many occasions to get through this game. 

I’ll admit, Hourglass is tricky but the pull of the game mechanics, world-building, and atmosphere make you want to try and try again. That said, if you aren’t a fan of puzzles and games where you are going to have put the old brain into hyperdrive, then you might be in trouble here. 

hourglass review 3

In terms of how it all comes across and visually Hourglass doesn’t do anything that you haven’t seen before; it’s not current-gen amazing on the eyes. But what it does do, it does very well; a beautiful blue sky world full of wonders and mysticism. I think it’s a lovely design that fits with the game and I enjoyed my time in it. The sound as well is the same, with some great effects for all the puzzle mechanics. Now and again a beautiful piece of relaxing music comes in and you remember where you are. It’s perfect. 

I love a good puzzler and Hourglass is very good for the five or six hours that it will last. The price is a bit heavy, but on the whole this is a quality thinking person’s game and one that you won’t want to miss. 

Hourglass is available from the Xbox Store

The mysticism of Ancient Egypt is something that will always have us wondering; how those Great Pyramids were made, what exactly are the curses that the ancient pharaohs placed on their tombs, and how many of those secrets they might hold. In games, developers have also embraced this amazing place in time from the early Tomb Raider games to the more recent Assassin’s Creed Origins. Hourglass is another that places us in the world of sand, sun, and the supernatural. It’s a game that combines the exploration of narrative adventures and the puzzling brain scratching of games like Portal. It’s…

Pros:

  • Game mechanics
  • Cloning
  • Lovely atmosphere
  • Visual storytelling

Cons:

  • Price is a bit heavy

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Secret Item Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 30 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £19.99
TXH Score

4/5

Pros:

  • Game mechanics
  • Cloning
  • Lovely atmosphere
  • Visual storytelling

Cons:

  • Price is a bit heavy

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Secret Item Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 30 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £19.99

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