In the wake of E3, there have been countless games on display that feature extravagant production values, hyper-realistic visuals, and a number of bombastic set-piece moments. When faced with this kind of stimulation, it's easy to get the impression that that's all a game exists to be anymore. Then straight out of this grand spectacle comes a game like Entwined to remind you that a game can be something more simple understated, and maybe even more meaningful.


Entwined tells the story of star-crossed lovers, taking the form of a blue bird, and an orange fish. Creatures inhabiting the sky and the sea, worlds somewhat alien to us humans bearing witness to this story, and even more alien to one another. The narrative is carried without dialogue, or even expression, leaving the player to interpret the feelings of these two creatures, as well as the meaning behind their journey as it spans across nine lifetimes.


The thing about telling a story without words is that something needs to hold your attention; helping to accommodate this issue is the fact that this game is staggeringly beautiful to behold. From the creatures themselves presented in a geometric origami style, tho the vibrant colors filling the screen from every angle, there isn't a single moment where this game doesn't dazzle the eyes. And it's all complimented by an absolutely wonderful soundtrack that is both understated and powerfully evocative. It creates an atmosphere that's warm and inviting, as well as cold and somber, making it much easier to care about the plight this bird and this fish must go through to be together. A plight perfectly encapsulated in the gameplay.


Playing Entwined has the player guiding the bird and the fish through a series of long, colorful tunnels, controlling each with one of the PS4's analogue sticks. The aim being to collect orbs to fill each creatures synchronization gauge while passing through obstacles to ensure that synchronization doesn't falter. Success involves coordination and steady control of the two sticks. There's an excellent sense of speed as you fly through these tunnels watching so many colors pass by, and it creates a strong metaphor for the hardship required to eventually find love and happiness. The difficulty increases as you speed through the game's nine levels (lifetimes), but it never gets frustrating there's never a sense of punishment, only a determination to keep going, to keep striving for that synchronization.


And when the two are finally synchronized, a new type of gameplay occurs; the two creature become one, as they find each other they become a beautiful green dragon and are allowed a brief time together. This time is spent flying across a scenic environment collecting orbs, this time to gain the ability to sky write, leaving an indelible memory of their brief time together. While in this stage, the player has free range of the area, the dragon can be controlled well enough with one analogue stick, but using both gives it added strength and mobility, in a subtle but powerful metaphor for relationship between the bird and the fish. These stages don't last long, but they speak more for the experience that any other art of the game. The to have found each other, and every moment together was worth the hard ship.


That said, the game's brevity may be the only negative I could muster, but I'd hardly say it's a bad thing, it doesn't stay too long, it gets the point across, and it leaves an impression unlike any I've felt in quite a while. The closest game I'd compare it to would be Flower; a subtle, understated and absolutely beautiful game unlike any that have come before or after. You may feel differently, but games like these can be some of the most fulfilling. Not because of how they look sound or play, but because they have something to communicate in a way that becomes interesting and meaningful than you find in a game that's longer or more expensive.



Compared to the big budget AAA titles fighting for your attention, Entwined won't light up the world in the way it deserves to, but to see such a powerful expression of story and metaphor come from such a humble little game is something special. If you need something a little more from your interactive experience, than you might not find it here. But if you have time for something a little more thoughtful and emotionally effecting, than Entwined is absolutely worth your time.