Have you ever wanted your own personal lab rat? It sounds like such an awesome idea in regards to both pretending to be a scientist and owning a pet rat that was smart enough to find itself out of a very complicated maze.The developers at Seaven Studio, however, seem to be ahead of the curve with this idea when creating their platformer Ethan: Meteor Hunter.
In this game, Ethan is your lab rat, except the end goal is not necessarily a delicious bundle of cheese attached to a giant mousetrap, but rather shiny, green meteor fragments. Instead of a complex maze, players will take on the role of Ethan as he traverses through 50+ levels full of challenging obstacles—all of which are separated between 3 different worlds filled with backgrounds that either take on the look of an industrial waste warehouse, a beautifully green otherworldly planet, a jungle and plenty more complimentary stages. Everything looks larger than life due to Ethan’s size, which is a great take on how these small creatures may actually perceive things through their eyes. Sure most of the aesthetic of the game may not translate completely well in that aspect, but a small guy in a big world is enough to push the idea through, and the developers seem to have a solid grab on that.
The gameplay is where it’s at. As players trod through level by level, they will be prompted to several puzzling brain-stumpers in order to get by, some with more than one way to achieve a pass. Players will be equipped with the ability to stop time and move objects around at will—taking two planes of long bricks, for example, and lining them up in order to allow Ethan to safely get across the screen without succumbing to a pitfall of spikes.
Ethan: Meteor Hunter also has a playback feature, powered by a small green orb in which players can jump back to before getting stumped on a particular puzzle plane. The orb is also acts as a checkpoint whenever Ethan dies—and that’s really where the struggle of the game comes from. The game is not an easy feat in just a day. Some variants of these puzzle implement a time constraint, others implement a limit on how many times players can stop time in order to move objects around. It takes such critical thinking to get through every level as you’re constantly being bombarded with objects in your way, so even after you mess up with misplacing a plane or you simply haven’t been blessed with the epiphany of the answer just yet, there is the option to start over and try again. No “game over” screen, just the player and their ability to dig their extreame problem solving skills out of the crates.
There are even more curveballs thrown at you in various stages. One minute you’re being chased by missiles and the next minute you’re playing a bullet-hell game. Moving objects around and solving puzzles isn’t quite enough for this game, because sometimes Ethan will find himself in a bit of a pickle. With the telekinesis options given to players, the question is how they’ll be able to get the little bugger out of it.
Aside from the side scrolling puzzle run, Ethan: Meteor Hunter is sonically a pretty quiet game, albeit to help players concentrate on getting through tough levels. Sure there is some music in the background to accommodate Ethan’s hard work, but they’re mostly the type of music that you may hear in the elevator.
There’s also no storyline. Not even a hitch of one. Compounded with his blue gloves, red shirt and a glistening gold belt buckle, Ethan looks like a smart little rat who finds solace in exploring and discovering new things, but the game doesn’t really delve deeper than that and in some aspects it doesn’t have to. Players will mostly be concerned with conquering their urges to successfully pass a level without having to die and completely start over from scratch again. It’s a game to test the mind and patience of those who are used to senselessly shooting at anything that moves with an SMG or—if you’re like me—a game that doesn’t let you win.
Perhaps that’s the bulk of the genius minds of the French developers at Seaven Studios. This game is all about you not being able to win whenever you want to and for the most part it seems promisingly enjoyable. Ethan: Meteor Hunter is set to be released on the PS3 and PC soon.