FIRST 10 MINUTES | PC Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | 10:00 AM

Our videos of Ether One

Our videos of Ether One

Released last week on Steam and GOG, among other services, Ether One has landed in our hands just in time for a full examination. To find out the diagnosis look inside.

Impressions



At a time when the narrative has become increasingly prominent in the video game space, some of the bolder indie attempts, such as Dear Esther and The Stanley Parable, have gone so far as to nearly remove that which could be considered actual gameplay. Ether One tries to find a balance by introducing a selection of puzzles to complement its narrative in a very 1993 CD-ROM-esque move. These puzzles are mostly optional, interestingly, but only through solving them will the story fully reveal itself and it's the story's themes that will keep you playing. Ether One explores the deteriorating mental state of a woman suffering from dementia. It's rare indeed to encounter a game which focuses so directly on mental illness but Ether One handles its themes quite deftly.

Jean catatonic

You play the role of a "restorer", a person sent into the psyche of mentally disturbed patients in an effort to save them from their internal prison. Guided by a rather authoritative yet mysterious voice, you find yourself wandering through the memories of Jean, a 69-year-old woman scarred by something which happened in her life long ago. The gameplay centers primarily on exploration and item acquisition with a plenty of items, puzzles, and notes to pick up along the way. Many of these items may not appear to hold a particular use while others may contain the solution to a riddle you'll encounter later on. In that sense, Ether One demands a good sense of inventory organization, an art lost in modern games.



Case sensitive

In fact, the approach to inventory is quite original. The player is limited to holding a single item at a time, but the number of necessary objects far exceeds this limit. The solution? A separate room, available at the press of a button, in which you can carefully store and sort your collection of items. It is a strange place known only as "The Case" (referencing the medical case a doctor might carry) to which you will return to regularly. Shelves work as expected and allow you to carefully organize and place objects which wind up serving a real purpose in how you approach puzzles. It's certainly less restrictive than the more "realistic" approach seen in the last Alone in the Dark game and, once you become accustomed to it, becomes just as easy to use as a more traditional solution.



Ether Locklear

As a game relying on narrative, nailing the atmosphere is doubly important and thankfully they've done a good job here. Sure, some of the textures could have been a bit sharper, but the pastel art direction is sublime and delivers an undeniable charm. Some will find the visuals a bit dated, but it has the same charm as a foxy actress of the 80's who's grown older and still looks fine. As expected, performance is fast and smooth and the use of discrete surround with a focus on ambiance contributes to the experience. While Ether One isn't really a horror game in the truest sense, the developers still manage to build a rather disturbing atmosphere with the mysterious play between the supervisor and the restorer only serving to exacerbate distrust. As such we must applaud the work of the voice director here as a failure to nail this element could have destroyed the narrative they were trying to tell. Ever since Portal and Glados, we've become accustomed to the presence of an accompanying voice over, but it requires solid voice acting for it to work properly. It is thankfully the case here.

The lab
The case
Entering the mine
The mine

All comments

Commented on 2014-04-02 15:14:39
This is what people with dementia see? O_o

About the game


What's up?
  • Sdarts
    Sdarts Enjoy the Sunday. :) (2 Hours ago)
  • Sdarts
    Sdarts @GriftGFX: Gonna go eat lunch now. Thanks for the chat. It's always great to learn more about technology and its potential. I just wish there were any articles on the subject I could find. (2 Hours ago)
  • GriftGFX
    GriftGFX *about game engine graphics pipelines (2 Hours ago)
  • GriftGFX
    GriftGFX Then you start getting into proprietary software hell and potentially preventing other developers from writing innovative software solutions themselves. It's a WEIRD idea. (2 Hours ago)
  • GriftGFX
    GriftGFX and game engine graphics pipelines or even programming interfaces for their products. None of that is their role in the whole thing.. and it shouldn't be. (2 Hours ago)
  • GriftGFX
    GriftGFX @Sdarts: Nvidia and AMD already do help developers with optimization more than they should have to. Nvidia and AMD should be improving the hardware and driver end of the technology and not worrying (2 Hours ago)
  • GriftGFX
    GriftGFX Nvidia and AMD don't even provide the API for their graphics cards. That would be the next layer between the developer and the video card. DirectX. (2 Hours ago)
PreviousNext
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood GSY is getting some nice content at 3 pm CEST with our July podcast and some videos of the Deus Ex Mankind Divided preview build. :) (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood For once we'll be live at 4:30 pm CEST. Blim should not even be tired! (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood More Quantum Break coverage coming in a few hours, 9:00 a.m CEST. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood We'll have a full review up for Firewatch at 7 pm CET. Videos will only be tomorrow though. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Tonight's livestream will be at 9:15 GMT+1, not GMT+2 as first stated. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood New GSY Live dedicated this time to Just Cause 3 on Tuesday 9:30 GMT+2 (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Join us tomorrow at 10 pm GMT+2 for a new livestream. We'll be playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. (> 3 Months ago)
PreviousNext
Top stories