The Entrophy Center is a very clever puzzle game, set in space, and allows you to manipulate time plus it’s all wrapped up in a neat narrative that will tug on your heartstrings. The Entrophy Center is portal-adjascent, but that’s a compliment given Portal is one of the best games out there.
When you first start the game you wake up on a deserted space station. It’s abandoned and looks like people haven’t been around for some time. It’s fallen into disrepeair and it’s unknown if any of the equipment still works. Fortunately you manage to find this powerful weapon that allows you to solve physics based puzzles that tend to revolve around placing cubes on sensor pads on the floor. The Entrophy Center doesn’t shy away from the Portal comparisons, it’s so close that it has to be intentional.
The focus on the puzzles in The Entrophy Center are around time. Your Entrophy Gun can rewind items and objects, which means you’ll have to flip your brain into a different way of thinking to solve these puzzles. For example, you may have to place the item on particular pads in sequence, and get through locked doors at the same time. At first the puzzles are brain teasers, but once you get a hang of the logic they tend to repeat within the same framework later in the game.
The game is roughly 10 hours long, and once you focus on a puzzle, look at the solution from the end to the beginning, the puzzles start to unravel. It will take a few puzzles to get your brain into the right mode for The Entropy Center, but once you are there it’s almost like a key that unlocks the rest of the game. About halfway through new mechanics open up to ramp up the diffculty again, and while these new mechanics were fun, they weren’t as good as the initial rewind time concept.
One of the best things about this game for me is the story. It’s a science fiction story, that manages to ramp up the tension, plus ask some probing questions about the future, what you have control over and what is the inevitable. Similar to the themes around prophecy in God of War Ragnorok, albeit in a very different setting. The Entrophy Center itself feels like it’s breaking down all around you, which only adds to the sense of dread, and a slow countdown timer ticking down all around you. It gives oss similar vibes to other journeys through space like Moon or The Passengers. The game also tackles time travel, which is nortoriously difficult to pull off, but takles me back to some of my favourite moves of all time. Personally I think the game would have benefited from a more defined countdown timer, similar to The Outer Wilds, where you have 20 mins and the sun explodes. The dread is here and you feel it, but it’s a little bit too slow to get you motivated, it feels a little too far out rather than an immediate threat.
The supporting environment for the game is great. Voice actors do a great job, the game looks and sounds great. The writing is a little hit of miss, and here it’s diffcult to live up to the lofty standards set by Portal. However, it’s not bad by any means, and all these things combined help to make The Entrophy Center an entertaining package to compliment the puzzles.
Overall, The Entrophy Center is good fun, plays with some interesting concepts, but doesn’t quite live up to the obvious comparison of Valve’s Portal. In it’s own right the puzzles are good, although the time rewind mechanic does get a little stale after a while. If you are a fan of sci-fi and puzzle games, then I do think it’s worth trying. Also, thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy of the game.
Developer: Stubby Games
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X and Series S
Release date: 3 November 2022