When browsing Twitch, I checked out a friend’s stream who was playing The Entropy Centre, straight away the “Portal” presentation caught my attention and I’ve spent the last few days getting my head around this amazing mind-bending puzzler.
Our protagonist, Aria Adams, wakes up after a strange dream about the world exploding, confused and disorientated, she realises she’s not home, and the sound of an automated message over a nearby speaker introduces her to the Entropy Centre.
After interacting with the nearby P.C, Aria discovers she’s Junior Puzzle Operative and spends the next few minutes learning how to move, pick up a cube and place it onto a pressure plate to open a door.
Soon enough you come across E, a house robot who’s equally a little confused, followed by a Handheld Entropy Device, which is a gun-like device, used to reverse the time of whatever it aims at.
On board is Astra, Puzzle Excercise Assistant (PEA), who will accompany you through the missions, there’s a small screen showing Astra’s emotions, which doubles up to show the stored timeframe of a reversed object.
You’ll start off with a single cube and two pressure plates, one opens the exit and the second opens a door blocking the first. Like many early puzzles, you work in reverse, positioning the cube on the door that blocks the exit, and then onto the first plate, so after passing through the 1st door, you can reverse the cube so it returns to the plate that opens up the exit.
it’s a clever system which work incredibly well and the first handful of acts serve more as practice for what’s to come.
By the end of the 3rd act, you’ve discovered that Entropy is an energy force that can cause these reversals, using the brain power of individuals completing challenges, the Entropy Centre harvest this power to reverse cataclysmic events here on earth, giant meteor, just rewind it, explosive nuclear decimation, just skip back a few years, Animals going extinct, let’s try that again.
Sadly due to the inhabitants of the Entropy Centre being missing, it’s up to Aria to save the day and complete puzzles to build enough Entropy to save the Earth.
When I first got to this point, I was expecting a pretty straightforward puzzler, with Portal-like progression from one puzzle to another, (and that wouldn’t have been a terrible thing)
But instead, The Entropy Centre starts to mix things up, with environmental puzzles, physics-based challenges, and far more to experience than the pre-defined puzzle rooms.
Progressing through the story, a wide range of different puzzle styles is mostly possible thanks to a gradual introduction of new cubes and puzzle mechanics, firstly the jump cube, which provides a portable jump pad, one that emits a bridge you can walk on to cross gaps, or the pad that hurtles you in a pre-defined location.
It was with this early block that Astra really started to stand out, firing a block off of one of these pads, she yelled “Yeet”, which prompted a funny little conversation, where she promised to remove the word from her vocabulary.
From this point, I took more notice of the interactions between Aria and her little PEA as the game continued to evolve around me.
The quality of voice-acting alongside the witty and memorable writing is all of a really high standard, and Astra to The Entropy Centre is what GLaDOS was to Portal.
Comparisons to Portal don’t stop there, the way many blocks work, the overall puzzle system, and even the way Portal 2 introduced a more open (but still linear) concept, The Entropy Centre will please Portal fans high and wide.
It’s similar enough, but still fresh and unique, as mentioned earlier the reverse mechanic works really well, and combined with all the different clever ways puzzles are thrown at you, there’s little to, complain about.
For some, the latter half of the game might be pushing the complexity, and I’m sure some will resort to Youtube videos and guides, but overall it’s that puzzle variety that helps The Entropy Centre engage the player.
Likewise with the overall engagement, it’s a deep story, with plenty of twists, I’m sure a few paragraphs up might feel like a bit of a spoiler, but there’s plenty more to come, and understanding the world of the centre is part of the adventure.
there’s also intel to collect, these are PC’s (sometimes obvious, often hidden) which contain messages, from HR conditions to the woman who smuggled her pet cat to the centre, with bags of cat food hidden under her desk.
These messages are short, sweet and just as funny as the conversations with Astra, and they all combine to create the image of a real community and workforce that was once rife around the centre.
Graphically while it’s all high quality, there are a few weak areas, the occasional light flicker, some overpowering atmospheric lights and some locations do look a little too similar.
But if you’re not intentionally looking for them, a few textures popping in and some OTT light glare aren’t going to disrupt play or leave a negative impression.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the value, most people are going to take 12-15 hours to play through, and while there are inevitably a few quiet patches, the overall flow of the game, alongside the varied puzzles and chatter with Astra make your time in the entropy Centre fun, memorable and well worth experiencing.
Add to this the low £23.99 price tag, and The Entropy Centre is a highly recommended game that’s possibly one of the most unique and enjoyable puzzle games since Portal 2 was released over 10 years ago.
The Entropy Centre