Embracelet

 

 

 

Genre: Adventure 

Developer & Publisher: Mattis Folkestad, machineboy           

Released: September 24, 2020              

Requirements: Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system,

OS: Window 10

Processor: Core i3 or better

Memory: 8 GB RAM

Graphics: Intel Iris or better

Storage: 1 GB available storage

Additional note: Runs best on a system with a dedicated graphics card

 

 

                   

           

                 

 

 

 

By flotsam

 

This is about four hours of gentle, charming coming-of-age story telling.

You play as Jesper, a 17 year old Norwegian boy with an ailing grandfather and a not quite coping mother. You are close to them both, yet when your grandfather gives you a bracelet and a strange story, and asks you to embark on a quest to the small and remote island of Slepp, you feel compelled to comply. That the bracelet has a magical power only adds to the compulsion. A short, unfortunate while later, you find yourself disembarking at the pier in this northern outpost.

In typical adventuring fashion, you set out to explore, discovering little things and big things about both your grandfather and the island. Environmental issues of the here and now dominate the latter, the life once lived and its related trappings are prominent in the former. Plus the story of the bracelet, which unfolds across the length of the game.

Apart from tugging you forward at various points, as if it wants to get somewhere, the braceletís power involves manipulating items. A collapsed drying screen can be rebuilt, a locked door is able to be blasted open, a gap in a mountain path can be closed, all by using the bracelet. An icon will indicate it can be used, and a little mini-game (for want of a better description) will ensue. Two concentric circles approach each other, and clicking when they are as one will activate the bracelet. If you fail just try again. It isnít hard, and you can adjust the speed at which they approach each other in the settings. If it sounds a bit contrived, it didnít feel that way.

The game starts by saying it is best played with a game controller, which I suspect is probably right. It was a little bit fiddly using the keyboard arrow keys, particularly so with one sequence where running away is required. It took me many goes to get through what is really quite a short sequence, having to try and try and try again as the directional arrows failed me. Itís the only such sequence in the game, and I canít really hold it against it when it told me to play it differently, but it was frustrating nonetheless.

Getting around in the rest of the game was fine, even if I did occasionally swerve around the place, and head in the wrong direction entirely when the camera angle shifted. But it was a small thing in the overall scheme of things, and didnít detract from my enjoyment of Jesperís endeavours.

Which was considerable. The look, the feel, the sound, the tale/s. They all came together in a very satisfying, and at times even surprising, way.

The visual aesthetic was particularly appealing. Clean and simple, light and airy, stylized and colourful; these are all objectives used by the maker when describing its construction, and they are all apt. The final product fits together well, and nothing looks like it was ignored in favour of other elements. The polygonal nature of the modelling is apparent, and contributes to an almost quirky appeal.

The music works a treat as well. Coherent and laidback says the maker, and I would agree. There is a lot of it, and it admirably supports the events.

There is no spoken word, speech bubbles of dialogue audibly popping up as characters converse. Read at your leisure, the bubble not disappearing until you click. There is a lot to learn and people to chat with, but it never felt wordy.

You do get to make some choices in the dialogue, some of which suggest an impact on how some parts of the story play out. Particularly a detail in a remarkably satisfying final scene, as Jesper heads back home. Not a complete surprise given some things along the way, but impactful none the less. You may get a different one, but mine was poignant, and beautifully done.

Ambient sound rounds things out.

Apart from moving around, most of the rest of the game is played with the mouse. Left click to examine or chat or pick of objects, right click to use the bracelet. I would suggest not using the bracelet icon until you have a reason to do so, as there are times when it can disrupt the flow of the story. For example, on one occasion I gathered flowers because I could, and then a cutscene used them in a way I didnít know I needed to do. Some time later I had the conversation which led to me needing the flowers, which had already occurred. So wait until you know you need them!

While you gather some items, having them will result in them being used when required, so there is no inventory management. The escape key brings up the menu, where you can fiddle with settings and access your objectives should it be necessary. An audible scratching will alert you to a new one being entered. The H key briefly highlights objects you can interact with in same way. The game autosaves as you go, and you just choose resume from the menu to pick up where you left off.

A very satisfying piece. 

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB

 

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