Review: Entwined (PS4)
Mere hours after Sony finished their E3 press conference, they announced a new game called Entwined was available to download now on the Playstation Network Store. This was unexpected, because it’s not the usual day that the Playstation Store updates, but Intelligent Gamer dutifully downloaded the game just so we could review it for you here.
The first thing that hits you when you start playing Entwined is how beautiful it is. It has a very simple art style to it, but it utilises a wide range of bright colors contrasted with dark and skilful use of neon to make the game look like some sort of incredible fever dream. Or acid trip. Not that I’d know what one of those looks like. But I imagine this is exactly what someone on an acid trip might see. It reminded me of some of the prettier parts of Infamous: Second Son.
Indeed, in many ways, Entwined is a mish mash of other games. You can point to almost any aspect of it to see where it could possibly have drawn influence. For instance, the game uses both the left and right stick to control two separate dragons, independently of one another, at the same time. In this way, it is very much like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. These dragons fly together but may never touch, and as they fly they must carefully and skillfully navigate through a series of goals to progress through each level. Successfully passing each goal adds extra beats/notes to the music of the level; in this way it is like Bit Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien.
It has virtually no story, but there is some semblance of a story there. As the dragons progress through the levels (called “lifetimes”) goals, they acquire energy and once they have reached the peak of this, they may join together, forming one single dragon that flies gleefully through the night sky. The minimalist story requires the player to interpret it on their own; in this way, it is like Flower or Journey. Then their energy expires, and they start a new lifetime (level). For instance, I immediately started thinking of Chinese mythology, but others might see nods to other aspects of human storytelling, such as the phoenix.
Yet despite all of this, it would be a disservice to say Entwined is derivative, or simply copying any of these other games. Instead, Entwined borrows from the best, innovates, and blends it all together into a game that is pure, simple fun.
It is often challenging. Trying to get both sides of your brain to navigate goals on opposite sides of the screen is harder than you might think. You can get annoyed with yourself for not getting it right. Sometimes this is due to a failure of the controls (they can feel imprecise at times). But when you do get it right, skilfully pulling off a complex manoeuvre through a series of moving goals, you feel quietly chuffed with yourself. It’s risk/reward at its core, and it’s addictive fun.
Best of all, in a world where challenge is constantly ramped up for the sake of upping the stakes, Entwined basically encourages you to relax, even as it ups its own challenge. You might get frustrated that you missed that gate, but death doesn’t seem to be possible; instead you just try again, and get better as you go, as the music and visuals soothe you.
Entwined is a thing of beauty. It’s deep, thoughtful, beautiful, challenging and rewarding. You owe it to your chi to play this.
Final Score: 8 out of 10.