By Shane Wall
I got my first hands-on with Entwined at Sony’s booth at E3 the other week and it was one of many games I wished I had more time with. Thankfully the full game was made available during Sony’s press conference, so as soon as I was back in Australia I got to sit down and enjoy the pretty colours without the obligatory E3 hangover.
For those unfamiliar with Entwined, it’s the story of two lost souls -- a bird and a fish -- who are in love but struggle to be together. Yes, a bird and fish. I consider myself a progressive kind of guy but I can't say I ever saw a game like this coming. The love story isn’t really spelled out during the game; rather, it's represented visually. Honestly though, if I wasn’t told what it was about by Sony I would never have guessed.
Always together, forever apart.
That bit of text when loading the game is the only bit of evidence that directly corroborates the love story but it could easily be mistaken for a description of the game play. The fish is controlled on the left stick while the bird is controlled on the right and they cant cross over to the others side. In essence, Entwined is a rhythm game and there’s little need for a story.
The object of the game is to control the bird and fish simultaneously through a series of ever-changing environments. You collect orange and blue orbs to increase a meter representing both lovers and fly through orange, blue and green areas. The orange and blue segments correspond to the fish and bird respectively while the green areas require both to come together. Failing to navigate the coloured sections will lower the corresponding meter; filling them both will allow your bestial lovers to fuse and transform into a brilliant green dragon.
The music ranges from calming to intense depending on both what level you are on and how close you are to the end of it. Each level has a completely different style; some are organic while others resemble busy highways. It’s gorgeous even if everything is just a collection of various geometric shapes.
As you would imagine the game starts out very easy to introduce you to the controls and very slowly ramps up the difficulty. There are only nine levels or “lifetimes” in the story mode and they never really pose a challenge. This is obviously what the challenge mode offers. I must admit I have no idea if it's even possible to fail in story mode as it never even seemed like a possibility.
Challenge mode however gives you three lives to gain as many points as you can before you inevitably screw up. It gets faster and points are based on how long you can stay alive, once you hit a certain benchmark on one challenge level the next one is unlocked. There are only five challenge levels but they are hard enough to had a few more hours to the total play time but this is still not nearly enough.
This is the biggest problem with Entwined: its way too short. I finished the story in under an hour. It's beautiful and mesmerizing to play but once the hour was up felt a little cheated. The challenge levels are great but they can only hold your interest for so long because they’re so much more difficult than the much more casual story mode.
I found the most interesting thing about Entwined was realizing that I naturally favored one side over the other. While playing at Sony’s booth I quickly noticed that the bird (right stick) was always doing better than the fish. I was curious to see if this trend would be the same for other players so I hung around for a while and was surprised to see it was split about 50/50 over the next few people playing and everyone I asked who had played.
It’s a shame but there’s little more to say. I had a lot of fun with Entwined but unfortunately it just didn’t last. This is reflected in the price, as it’s only $12 AUD. If you’re interested in having a go, I recommend it but be warned: the game will end just as you’re starting to appreciate it.