After being intrigued by an early preview build, I got my hands on the upcoming puzzle platformer, Ethan: Meteor Hunter at Gamescom. The game is developed by Seaven Studios, a small team of 9 people who went full-time indie after their previous employer, Hydravision, had to close down earlier this year. After more than 12 months of development, the game is almost feature complete and ready to challenge gamers everywhere when it launches in October.
Ethan was just a normal mouse until that fateful day he got hit by a meteorite. Now he has the power to pause time and move objects via telekinesis. Instead of enjoying his new found superpowers, he sets out to collect all of the meteorite pieces in order to… I have no idea, really. According to Olivier Penot, producer & co-founder, the game’s story is essentially to, Just go right.” which is fair enough. Having a good story in puzzle platformers is often a thankless endeavor, anyway. Seaven Studios decided to focus on compelling gameplay instead.
Ethan: Meteor Hunter is hard. Despite its anthropomorphic protagonist, this is not a kiddie game. While the difficulty is not as punishing as in, say, Dustforce, there might be a fair amount of sweating and swearing involved when trying to master the game’s 50 levels. Apart from various traps and enemies, there are a lot of puzzles blocking Ethan’s way to the exit. This is where your telekinetic superpowers come into play. Stopping time, you can move blocks around to create new paths or bypass traps. Physics play a rather prominent role as well, with wooden blocks being consumed by fire or metal blocks conducting electricity. All in all, I found the puzzles interesting and varied enough, as they didn’t disrupt the platforming flow and offered a welcome change.
Speaking of variety, while this combination of platforming and puzzling is a good mechanic, it can feel overused when the game’s got nothing else to offer. Thankfully, Ethan has a few more tricks up his sleeve – there are shoot-em-up sequences, levels in the dark, and, “The rest are surprises.” Well, he piqued my interest for sure. Collecting all the green orbs that are scattered through each level also unlocks extra challenges and secret stages. The average player will probably take around 7 hours to complete the game on the first run, and maybe 10 hours to finish everything else. Speedrunners should also get a kick out of those crazy par times. I have no idea how someone will ever beat those, but not everyone plays their puzzle platformers like the bumbling fool that I turned out to be. For the record, I blame the noisy Gamescom halls and the producer sitting right next to me, laughing at my misadventures. But hey, I still had fun. I guess that’s a good sign.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints there won’t be a demo version before launch, but there’s an older demo build you can try over at the game’s website. Ethan: Meteor Hunter will be relased sometime in October directly from Seaven Studios, as well as on GOG and various other digital distributors. If you want to see the game on Steam, be sure to head over here and give Ethan some Greenlight love. He certainly deserves it, being a mouse with superpowers and all.