The Entropy Centre, developed by Stubby Games and published by Playstack, is a first-person time-bending puzzler where all the fun comes from messy game design.
Numerous puzzle rooms awaited me, the last human being, inside a deserted testing facility. While very much a love letter to Portal, The Entropy Centre created its own equally charming identity within the premise. Here, my gun could pick up and rewind blocks in time and completing puzzles generated entropy that was needed to reverse the earth’s annihilation.
Firstly, the voice acting was perfect. Chloe Taylor’s performance as the main character, Aria, conveyed a curiosity and humor that felt genuine under unimaginably dire circumstances. The AI ASTRA, voiced by Kasey Miracle, was naive and friendly and formed an innocent bond with Aria that played along with the game’s tension and relief. My main gripe, hidden between the impending doom and the sandy beaches, was the puzzles.
Simplified, the goal was to move blocks, with my rewinding gun, to buttons to unlock doors. Most of the solutions were mentally solved within a few seconds of seeing the layout, and then it was just a matter of lining everything up to play out in reverse. In the first half of the game, the task-oriented part of my brain was fully engaged, but since it did nothing to challenge my reasoning or creativity, it wasn’t long before I grew tired of going through the motions. Only a mere handful of chambers were memorable, due to either cunning design or game-breaking bugs.
In the second half, the puzzles introduced more steps and objects in an effort to be more elaborate and difficult, but it only made the puzzles sloppy and vulnerable to unintended solutions. But this sloppiness is just what The Entropy Centre needed to relieve my prior puzzle fatigue. I stood on top of pixels, manipulated the physics engine to clip through objects, and made short work of any chamber that dared to include a trampoline block. There was finally room for out-of-the-box thinking and creativity that reignited that feeling of being clever and intellectually naughty.
Between puzzle floors were linear sequences where I reversed falling debris and fought aggressive helper bots, but rewinding all of my problems took away any sense of peril. The tale of quantum mechanical mystery was always present, but it also did not engage me during the first half. Later, the sequences, while still linear, played with the theme of time manipulation in a way that was easily understood and had haunting depth. The Entropy Centre genuinely overcame its poor beginnings with a phenomenal back half and conclusion, but I didn’t know if it was intentional.
Part of me believed the initial bland puzzles purposefully juxtaposed the chaos and disorder of the later puzzles, because that is the very definition of entropy the game was trying to illustrate — there was a literal whiteboard with the definition written on it to make sure we were on the same page. If it wasn’t intentional, then I fear any attempts to fix the fun imperfections will doom this multidimensional-themed puzzler to be a one-dimensional bore.
The Entropy Centre is available now for $24.99 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, and PC.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for The Entropy Centre.