Developer(s) – White Paper Games
Ether One is a first person exploration adventure game, with a strong element of puzzle solving attached to it. Though I found gameplay to be somewhat bland at times, it was still nonetheless a pretty intriguing title
In terms of conceptual design, this game wanted for very little. It was impressively diverse, containing a plethora of different locations to explore, and different atmospheres along the way ranging from cam and tranquil to extremely thrilling, and at times foreboding too. The problems I have with it regard the technical side. I found that even though the game was powered using the latest version of the Unreal engine, one of the most advanced gaming engines on the market, the frame rate went up and down like a Rollercoaster, despite the fact that it isn’t the most visually astute game I’ve ever seen.
Gameplay – 7/10
The game’s puzzle solving element can be compared to that of Half-Life or Portal in my opinion, in that very little is self-explanatory, and does require quite a bit of lateral thinking on the player’s part to get through. The player must use their better judgement to deice which items found are worth keeping in the long term in order to progress through future arts of the game. Since there isn’t much action involved, the game can feel a little boring at times, but for the most part, it does well to entertain.
Controls – 10/10
Like many other indie first-person video games released these days, there are considerably less mechanics for players to have to worry about, and so, the control scheme poses even less problems than what a conventional first-person shooter does, which is most often times none anyway. These days, its only the worst shooting games that seem to have any kind of problems with controls, such as Brink; but this is not one of those games, thankfully.
Lifespan – 4/10
To complete the game can take around 5 to 6 hours, which despite the fact that it is ultimately a linear progression of a game, is still particularly underwhelming, given the fact that it does heavily encourage the concept of exploration, and normally, such games can be made to last considerably longer, provided that there is enough to do along the way. There can be the discovery of back-story, which can add a little more longevity, but disappointingly, it is one of the shortest first-person games I’ve played.
Storyline – 8/10
The story of Ether One follows the endeavour of a self-titled character, who is under the employ of a company called the Ether Institute of telepathic medicine, that specializes in mental health. As a restorer, his/her job is to investigate the thoughts of a 69-year-old dementia patient named Jean Thompson, and reconstruct her memories using various artefacts retrieved from her subconscious. It’s a very unique story, in that it tackles an issues, which has never really been tackled to this great an extent in a video game before, and it makes for an extremely interesting insight into the issue.
Originality – 7/10
Even back in the days of when story in video games were starting to become much more prominent, there were few games to tackle political issues; exceptions of which being Final Fantasy IX and Breath of Fire IV. But not only does this game do it particularly uniquely, but the core concept of gameplay also does well to add to this perpetuated issue, since the topic of the human psyche is still able to capture the imagination of many to this very day.
Overall, Ether One, though flawed in certain ways, is a particularly interesting game, and another step towards perpetuating the medium as a valid art form. Though somewhat lacking in gameplay, it conveys some very intriguing thoughts and asks some very serious questions; better than even many films to have come and gone.