Friday, January 18

Review: Ethan - Meteor Hunter [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Puzzle platforming is generally a pretty popular genre, and is well-represented on Switch as a whole already. That means in order to gain attention you need to change things up somehow to help stand out. Ethan: Meteor Hunter takes a stab at this, throwing in a sort of psychic ability to pause time and manipulate blocks in the environment to allow you to proceed. While it’s not a bad idea, and can lead to some challenging puzzles, overall the experience is brought down by finicky controls and pretty generic platforming as a whole.

You play the game as a mouse named Ethan who, through an accident, has been given this power to manipulate objects and will need this ability to get through 50 levels of puzzles, collecting shards of meteor along the way. Really the story doesn’t play any real role, it just attempts to explain the small scale of your character and the environments you’re in. Since your abilities to move are a bit limited (you can jump and slide, but that’s about it), in order to succeed you’ll need to collect coins that will allow you to pause everything and manipulate blocks to create platforms, obstruct hazards, and help compensate for your otherwise humble skills.

There are two aspects of the gameplay, the platforming and the puzzle-solving, and each are decent but have their flaws. Starting with the action end of the equation for the most part the level design is uninspired. You’ll need to avoid traps and make some smart jumps but there’s nothing much that stands out as terribly inspiring. Things like a pogo level, that are purely action-oriented, break things up every once in a while but it’s nothing revolutionary. The game really seems to be banking on the puzzle aspect saving the day but while the gameplay is a bit different the tricky controls unfortunately tend to get in the way on a consistent basis. Too much of the time precision is a necessity when getting blocks into place but the speed of movement makes it all clumsy and aggravating. Mix this with cases where a block is just slightly too long or wide to put into a spot to solve a puzzle in a different way and you’ll find yourself wasting time wondering if you just didn’t rotate or position the block just right to make it fit. Even when it’s working optimally for the most part the blend of solving the puzzles and action is just OK, but never really inspired.

I suppose the change of pace and unique blend of the block manipulation and platforming helps set Ethan: Meteor Hunter apart but I can’t say at any point it clicked for me as exciting or much fun. The bummer of the control sensitivity and the lackluster level design too often made finishing levels feel more like a task than a joy. I don’t doubt that there’ll be people who do find the fun in this title, I just think that in the crowded Switch eShop there are titles that are more compelling and fun than this.

Score: 5.5

  • A somewhat unique blend of platforming and puzzle solving
  • Some stages show sparks of creativity and provide from challenge

  • The precision needed to place some blocks too often clashes with the overly fast and clumsy controls
  • On a general level the level design and action feel quite generic