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Glyph

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 1 - 2021

Visit a tranquil desert and bounce around like a lunatic as a mechanical Scarab beetle called Glyph.

 
As we tentatively move in February, the video games industry is starting to wake up and new games are being released. Launching only a couple of weeks ago on Nintendo Switch in the EU, and only today in North America, Bolverk Games’ 3D platformer Glyph is perhaps one of the first surprises of the year. This under-the-radar platformer that started life as a VR game before suddenly appearing on the Switch turns out to be a very nice way to start the gaming year.

 


 
In Glyph, the player is cast into the role of a small, mechanical Scarab beetle out in the vast desert. The setting has a great sense of emptiness, broken up only by the platforms and ruins that make up the levels of the game. The visuals are reasonably simple, but work very well as the player pans the camera around and chooses their route through each level.

 
Glyph’s purpose in this world is to complete each of the many levels and finally restore the ancient temple, but that is neither here nor there as the emphasis is far more on how to complete each of the levels rather than any reason behind it.

 
It all starts out quite simply. Glyph has to stay off the sand, but must also reach the level exit. Glyph will also have to unlock the exit first, which may mean having to leave the obvious route from start to finish, and there are collectibles to find along the way that unlock new levels, often forcing the player to plan their route along the platforms that sit in the sand. Being able to roll into a ball to move, Glyph can pick up speed along a straight platform before bouncing into the air to clear the gap and land on the next small platform.

 
This first ability, being able to bounce into the air, takes a little getting used to. This is a game about precision and to that end the player is given some control over Glyph while it flies through the air. Given that some of the platforms that the player has to land on are quite small and may require an immediate further jump to another platform, that small amount of control over the flying ball is essential. Hitting the sand will result in starting the level again, which can be frustrating, but there is a simple joy in bouncing from one platform to the next in quick succession to reach the end of the level.

 


 
To be honest, I would have been happy with a game that involved simply bouncing around in this manner, but Glyph doesn’t stop there. As the player makes their way through the levels, they will be introduced to new mechanics that allow the player to go even further as a Scarab. Things get more complex quickly as the player is introduced to a handy double jump for clearing larger areas of sand, and a sort of constant wall jump to reach the top of pillars. The moves are not always easy to pull off, with the slam jump being the perfect example. For this, the player can press a button to hit the ground at speed and then bounce even higher into the air, but it can be quite difficult to do successfully, at least in the early days. Manage to get that extra height though and the move becomes very useful, particularly as another of Glyph’s moves involves popping out some wings and gliding for a short distance.

 
Much of the challenge in Glyph comes from working out which move to use and when, along with making sure that the right button is pressed. However, throw in platforms that can disappear, explode, or specific platforms that allow certain moves to be used, and the game quickly becomes very difficult. Restarting a lengthy level after making a stupid mistake can be rage inducing, but it is all down to the player, and Glyph makes it very easy to just keep trying, with a massive sense of satisfaction when the offending level is finally completed.

 
Each successive level becomes that little bit more complex, but the player is also learning the skills they need as they go along. Glyph is a well balanced game, and despite the anxiety of all this precision play, it is quite relaxing to play. There is a great soundtrack that adds to this, and the easy-going visuals are just packed with charm.

 


 
Glyph is a game of precision, speed and route planning, and it is very good at all of those things. Speed runners especially will get a lot out of the game. But even for the casual player, the huge number of levels and the combination of both challenge and a zen-like sense of peace will ensure that they will come back to Glyph time and time again. A great way to start the year, Glyph deserves a place in everyone’s Switch library.

 

 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 



 

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