What if you took Portal and swapped the portal mechanics with time manipulation? Well, you’d end up with The Entropy Centre and I know a lot of people are going to be making that comparison, but there’s really no escaping it here. This game has similar storytelling, similar environments, and straight up takes several mechanics from that series. That said, the game can definitely stand on its own.
Alright, so the main thing here is time manipulation. You pick up objects, move them around, and reverse them through time. The game is divided into 15 chapters and each has a sequence of puzzle chambers to complete. New mechanics are introduced throughout, starting small with simple cubes that you can use to activate switches to eventually jump pads, lasers, and even light bridges (if the Portal inspiration wasn’t apparent enough).
The pacing is pretty good here, giving you ample time to get used to each new mechanic before adding the next. That said, I feel like the game could have done a better job combining these mechanics. A lot of the time, a puzzle will revolve around one key element and the rest are just kind of tacked on and it isn’t until really late game that you get more than maybe four of them in a single puzzle. And then there are some that are straight up forgotten. Rivers, for example, were introduced and then used maybe like two times past that chapter. I just feel like there could have been more balance there.
The game does a way better job balancing its own level design. It takes a note from Portal, starting you out in simple test chambers before moving into large, expansive environments, shifting between sci-fi industrial to bright and tropical. It’s honestly really cool and the fact that these tropical areas make use of the same bright white test objects from the lab provides for a neat contrast.
The overall aesthetic definitely adds to this too. The game may not be pushing any graphical boundaries, but it looks absolutely solid for what it is and the studio has done a great job with the textures, models, animation, and really bringing the game world to life with all the little details scattered about.
I saw some Steam discussion threads complaining about PC performance even on high end graphics cards, but I cannot say I had any issues there. On my 3080 Ti – one of the very cards I say complaints about – I played maxed out at 4k and my fps hovered around 100 for the vast majority of my playthrough. I had no crashing or other technical issues outside of getting stuck in a door once – so the overall polish is pretty good.
But of course, I haven’t even talked about the actual puzzle design. If you’re going into this game expecting something along the quality of Portal you will likely be disappointed. Not to say that the puzzles are bad – in fact, I would say most are good – it just lacks that depth to really elevate it beyond just being “good”. Most puzzles are very linear in their design. There’s less “thinking outside the box” and it’s more like – okay, these are the cubes and buttons I have to interact with, I just need to place this here, this here, this here, and sequence them in reverse for the time manipulation. There was hardly a moment where I was surprised by a solution because a lot of the time that solution is apparent from the start and I just needed to go through the steps.
Or maybe it’s just me. Because I looked at other reviews for this game already and they seem to be suggesting the game’s length to be around 12 hours or so – Game Informer for example listed it as 15 hours long. I have no idea what took all these other people so long, as it took me just over five hours to clear – and that is with having to repeat several of the puzzles. Maybe it’s my experience with puzzle games or something else entirely but most of the puzzles can be completed in mere minutes, even some of the ones late game.
As such, I pretty much cruised through the game. The length wasn’t even a problem for me, as I said before, the pacing itself felt fine – I just feel like it’s important to note that my experience appears to be vastly different from the norm.
There’s also a bit of a story. It kinda goes that Portal route where you wake up with no idea as to what is going on and slowly piece together the outside world through dialogue with your robot companion, the environment, and computer logs scattered about. The banter between the protagonist and the robot companion ranges from genuinely interesting to just awful, but its overall charming in its own way.
The actual quality of the writing is a bit more wonky. The overall plot is interesting, especially with the big reveal early on, but it feels like the game ignores its own rules at times just to push the story further. There were instances where a major problem arises only for it to be fixed just as quickly by the time manipulation from this small weapon, yet that same weapon just doesn’t work the same elsewhere. There are plenty of holes like this, but I wouldn’t say this is a game to be played for the story anyways – if anything, it’s a nice added bonus that doesn’t constantly interfere with the gameplay. That and I actually kinda liked the ending.
The Entropy Centre, although clearly inspired by Portal, does a pretty good job standing on its own. The puzzles are generally good, the level design is even better, and the overall aesthetic is some absolutely solid stuff for the genre. That said, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the lack of depth in the puzzle design and the game could have done a better job synergizing all of its mechanics together. Still a fun one though for the five hours it took to clear and worth a look for puzzle fans.
Quote: The Entropy Centre, although clearly inspired by Portal, does a pretty good job standing on its own. The puzzles are good, the level design is even better, and the overall aesthetic is solid.
The Entropy Centre is available on Steam and GOG as well as PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.