Many will dismiss certain games just because they are too similar to others in their genre, cutting and pasting a popular mechanic to the detriment of the enjoyment. But many games take that influence and inspiration push the genre forward, creating new stories within a similar framework. With The Entropy Centre the game’s influence is clear – it loves Portal and adores Q.U.B.E..
In The Entropy Centre the protagonist wakes up alone in a strange new world, suddenly given a weapon that has unusual powers and left to work through a series of test rooms. It just so happens that the weapon in hand is one that comes complete with some witty AI.
I do love a puzzler and I especially like one that is delivered with an interesting and well-written story framing the puzzle solving. In The Entropy Centre you play the role of Aria who wakes up in a room not knowing who she is or what on earth is going on. You work as an employer for a place called The Entropy Centre and have been tasked with testing a special weapon that can rewind time, reworking certain objects. You are slap bang in the middle of the testing facility, but the place has been completely deserted, in ruins. Oh, and the Earth is heading for destruction and it’s up to you to save it.
Thankfully your task is helped by a funny and charming AI, installed initially in your gun. The writing, dialogue, and overall arc are very strong indeed and the visual storytelling of the centre itself is a brilliant piece of design.
But it’s the puzzles that will keep you playing The Entropy Centre and at times it’s this place which will leave you scratching your head. You play the whole game in the first person, jumping around, interacting with items. But it’s when you get the time reverse gun in your hands where the fun begins.
See, the gun has the ability to wind back time on certain objects. So as Aria walks through the centre at the beginning, you’ll find that some doorways have crumbled to the ground, blocking the way with rubble. You’ll want to point the gun at the rubble, press rewind, and discover that things clear back to their original time. This applies to stairwells or lifts that can be made whole again, and broken electrical circuits that can be fixed up to open doors. There is one whole section in which you are on a lift, travelling through a whole vast area and have to rewind debris falling around you to stop it from killing you as you move.
The Entropy Centre takes you on a journey through the titular centre, leaving you to complete several tests over a series of chapters. It’ll take you around ten hours to complete, as each new chapter goes about introducing new gameplay mechanics to the gun, helping you master each idea before a new one is introduced. The gameplay is hard to describe, but it’s worked in such a way as to when you play it makes complete sense.
Your main goal in each test room is to reach an exit point, utilising triggers for the most part. For example, if you put a cube on a trigger, it’ll activate and the exit will open. But what happens if there are two triggers and only the one cube? That’s where the gun comes into play.
By picking up the cube and taking it around the level, its journey can be recorded by the gun’s AI. So when you rewind time it will activate both triggers by using one cube. It all makes sense when you play it. Yet as progress is made through the fifteen chapters, additional elements come into play – like cube bridges, time-cancelling barriers and movable springboards. Sometimes the puzzles can get very frustrating and you may well find yourself hunting the web for answers, but similarly you will love trying to work them out.
Visually, The Entropy Centre is quite impressive with some nicely designed rooms. In between the test levels, other areas move the story forward and give you an idea about what has happened. The lighting is good throughout with some great effects as well, especially in terms of the soundtrack which is extremely atmospheric. There’s some seriously good voice work too, particularly that of the witty AI.
If you love your puzzlers and adore what the likes of Portal can deliver to the gaming world, then you are going to love The Entropy Centre. The story and world it creates are wonderful with some nice witty dialogue and fun characters. The whole premise of a gun that can rewind time is a good one, and the way it works with the puzzle rooms is extremely inventive. There is probably not enough here to drag in those who haven’t previously dipped into the genre, but otherwise this is one gun you’ll want to grab as soon as possible – rewinding time has never been so intriguing.
The Entropy Centre is on the Xbox Store