Sony surprised everyone by announcing a new game from the new developer PixelOpus during their E3 press conference. PixelOpus is a group of former game design students and Entwined is their first game release. While it does have a beautiful aesthetic, Entwinedfeels more like a student game than a fully fleshed out premise.
Entwined is about two souls in love, trying to unite and be together. One is represented as an orange fish and the other as a blue bird, both designed in an origami-like style. The fish is controlled with the left analog stick and the bird by the right analog stick. As they travel down a continuous cylinder, the player has to direct the two souls through orange and blue gates to collect memory fragments. As the fish and bird hit their matching colored gates, the music intensifies and the status bars fill. Once the bars of each soul are filled, they enter into a linked mode where, if gates are hit successfully in succession, they are joined together into dragon form. Soaring through open areas after being in a constrained tunnel feels liberating and is a nice reward for clearing the level. There are also 5 challenge levels that are continuous tunnels for high scores for those motivated by leaderboards. These levels go against the peaceful motif of the main story mode and seem like a tacked on way to add replayablilty.
Entwined’s best asset is its beautiful design. It has a minimalistic style that is more about shapes and colors than realism. It feels like you’re flying through a painting with beautiful music that is synced to the experience. The real problem is nothing changes from the first gate to the last. As you progress through the 9 tunnels, gameplay is essentially the same. Other than the colored gates moving in different patterns or requiring a specific set of movements, the game is identical throughout.
Lasting only a couple of hours, Entwined feels more like an experience than a game. I wish the developers were able to take this concept and build upon it to create more diverse gameplay. I was hoping to feel more and care about getting the two souls to unite but it never resonated for me. I felt more emotionally connected during a game like the 2009 release of Flower than Entwined. I appreciate its simplicity but its minimalism ultimately is its biggest fault.
If you are looking for a game to unwind with for a couple of hours, Entwined is worth your time. But if you are looking for challenge or something deeper, you would do best elsewhere.
Note: The Entwined review was written based on digital PS4 version of the game.