Home Gaming Etherborn Preview – Shifting Your Perspective

Etherborn Preview – Shifting Your Perspective

4 min read

Perspective is a fascinating thing. When artists want to create illusion, they play with perspective. When you’re doing a puzzle and can’t find where that one piece fits in, you shift your perspective. It’s this quaint word that represents something far greater than I think people give it credit for.

Perspective is how we see the world, how we interact with our environment based on what we see. Problems can be caused by a lack or perspective or they can be fixed by a change in perspective. It’s a phenomenon that’s greater than the sum of its parts and it’s in this concept that Etherborn explores and makes the player question what perspective really is.


A simple puzzle-platformer, Etherborn plays with gravity to demonstrate that there’s always more than one way to look at something. Starting out on a flat plane eventually evolves into a grand exploration of space as the paths become twisted upside down or split off above and below. There’s one core rule in Etherborn: You always fall down. Walking off a ninety-degree edge will always result in a fall, but a smooth curve allows for unhindered movement. What’s so special about this rule is that the developers have taken it and run. Run to the edge of the track and received a gold medal.

The few levels I was able to solve in the preview I got my hands on showed off some of the most intricate and involved level design I’ve seen in a puzzle game in a while. Walls twist and warp, dropping off and re-joining, the entire location looking like a painting pulled straight out of M.C Escher’s catalogue of work. Overlapping worlds that function as the puzzles themselves as you constantly try and figure out angles and perspective shifts. It’s a level of design that ought to be applauded for how intricate and planned it all is.


Etherborn looks stunning too. To contrast the complexity of it’s levels, the art design is focused on soft, yet vibrant colours creating an almost euphoric environment. To take a few steps back to the Escher analogy, the game embraces a surreal aesthetic and commits, with little explanation as to why anything is the way it is. And that’s fine! Etherborn is trying to communicate it’s art through it’s levels, it’s core gameplay and drawing from surreal imagery and themes only serves to enhance the experience.

The low-poly art style further reinforces this, giving general shapes and impressions yet never enough to feel as if you’re entirely sure what you’re looking at. Not to mention the soundtrack, sweeping and building at times and slowly drowning out to quiet ambience. It’s a lonely tone, but in the best possible way. The music reminds you how empty yet open the space is.


As much as I enjoyed the levels themselves, I can’t speak much to the game’s narrative. The preview demo is very cagey with what it was willing to show but from what I gleaned it’s just as out there as the rest of the game. There’s something about a voice providing narration on the fate of human nature and history and a tree that connects all of civilisation, but I wasn’t able to see much else. In any case, the game’s story looks to further reflect the surrealist art that it’s drawing so heavily from, delivering a story that may not be for everyone but has peaked my attention enough to be interested in what else it as to say. I can see some people claiming it pretentious, but I found a simple poetry to the lines being delivered.


And I’m glad that word as finally come up: Poetry. While many might roll their eyes at my use of the phrase, I can’t help but think of a better way to describe Etherborn as visual poetry. It’s said that anything can be a poem: The sound of a long flight touching down, or the smell of mom’s home cooked meal. And I think Etherborn is an example of poetry united with mechanics. It takes an idea, a concept, and warps it into a visual expression. It shifts the players concept and views, forcing a different outlook on how the game functions, coming back to that central message of perspective.

Other titles may have tackled similar themes in the past, but there’s something about how smooth Etherborn is, how committed it is to it’s influences. It’s refreshing and vibrant, setting itself apart from the competition. There’s something about it’s simplistic look yet complex design that quietly screams for attention, taking elements from other art forms and uniting them to create a unique experience. There’s nothing quite like it, and I can’t wait to see how the final version of this game explores these themes deeper and provides and even more captivating experience.

Last Updated: April 4, 2019

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