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Ether One Steel Book Edition (PS4)
- Enjoy open narrative exploration or solve complex puzzles
- Game play is accessible and you can decrypt the pen and paper puzzle at your own pace!
- Be free in how you enjoy the game!
Note: Please note, physical products come sealed in their original packaging, directly from the manufacturer.
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Ether One is a first person adventure that deals with the fragility of the human mind. There are two paths in the world you can choose from. At its core is a story exploration path free from puzzles where you can unfold the story at your own pace.
There is also a deeper, more adventurous path in which you can complete complex puzzles to restore life changing events of the patient's history in order to help the validation of their life!
"The world of Ether One is a superbly detailed and well thought out place" 4/5 - Joystiq
"Ether One might well represent the apex of its particular sub genre. It engages the player at every level the might want to engage it, and rewards them handsomely for plunging into its depths" 4.5/5 - Hardcore Gamer
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I bought Ether One as soon as I saw it was getting this physical release. Being touted as one of the best offerings of the so-called Indie Game scene - which I am loving at the moment - it was a no-brainer purchase.
Unfortunately, I’m left feeling indifferent to the game, at best, and am disappointed by the experience.
Ether One sees you, the player, act as a ‘Restorer’ that enters the consciousness of a dementia-stricken patient in order to cure their mind of the disease that ails them - via the mysterious ‘Ether’ substance - and restore their memories, thus saving their mind. And their life.
On first glance the game is a poor man’s ode to Bioshock (not a bad thing), but that unfortunately is as good as it gets.
So why the disappointment?
In Ether One, you have to explore the game’s locations in order to find core memories and, if you want to, solve puzzles to flesh out the story by witnessing the patient’s key life-moments. Sounds pretty good? Trouble is, these additional puzzles are an absolute drag, and the rewards for doing them are less than worth it. You have to collect certain items to place in certain areas in order to restore projectors to see what’s stored on them, but there are no cut-scenes at their completion; no extra paths to take, and the information gained does not change your course or enlighten your path in any way, they are essentially just snippets of information. And the other path, the other method of playing? Ultimately, it means you can run around the levels like a headless chicken collecting red ribbons which propel you to the games end - which you can reach in a couple of hours or so - without knowing any of the story as you go. The idea of having two ways to play is great, but the critical gaming ‘mass’ that is divided up and glued onto each of these paths is completely defunct. There is nothing that actually compels you to play.
Surely, the levels themselves and the sheer gameplay experience is enough to garner attention then? Well, sadly no. The levels’ concepts are fantastic: traditional Cornish village; old sea-side harbour etc., but because the game is set in a literal mind; none of the locations are alive. Yes, the colours and the buildings are there, complete with - whether by mistake or design, completely disorientating levels, fitting the games premise - but nothings happening: there are no people (at all, in the whole game), nothing’s moving, and every ounce of exploration you have to do is manifested by reading signs and letters - hundreds of them. Tiresome.
And what of the interaction then? This is where it starts to get worse, unfortunately. Picking up an item involves picking it up, examining it, holding it, transporting to another place in the mind, walking over to a shelf, placing it on the shelf, then transporting back into the game and continuing. Not a disaster in itself, but when you have to do it hundreds of times (only to realise that you don’t actually need any of them anyway)?
But lets redress this balance a little. Ether One is a great concept for a game. It’s an idea that holds weight, and one that offers some great opportunity for visual creativity. The location and setting is refreshing. There are no guns. You can play at your own pace. This game is exactly what it wants to be. And the small team at White Paper Games are clearly dedicated, skilled gamers who know what they want to do. And I credit all these things - even look forward to their next game.
But Ether One just doesn’t quite work for me. It’s narrative manages to go from point A to point M with nothing in the middle. Your only companion in the game; the voice of Phyllis, is very grating. And regrettably, the last word has to go to the most damning thing of all...
The bugs. The game is riddled with them. I think I had to restart about 4 times in my 4 and half hour completion. The game is audio - not visual - based, but if you pause the game mid-speech and return the audio will be gone, leaving you to play the next few minutes blind/deaf as you don’t know why something’s happening. You will get stuck in areas for no reason. You may find that one of your save games die for no reason, and you may even get kicked out of the game altogether to receive an XMB message saying the game has occurred an error. All very frustrating.
I’m not one to knock a game down unduly, particularly when it’s coming from a fresh new voice, but for me Ether One isn’t worth playing. There are far better digital-only originated games out there - Child of Light, Broken Sword, Life is Strange to name a few (and apparently Brothers, though I haven’t played that yet) - and for every good idea Ether One presents, it gets marred by 2 things that severely hamper its playability.
There is perhaps enough here to try if you have an affinity for its subject matter, indeed, White Paper Games have done enough for us to know their name for the future - probably in concept alone - but you won’t miss anything by not playing Ether One, sadly.
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