The Entropy Centre
Newcomer developer Stubby Games and publisher Playstack revealed The Entropy Centre during the Future Games Showcase in June, and it immediately caught my attention. On the one hand, it seemed to wear its Portal-inspiration on its sleeve, an immediate draw for me. On the other hand, its concept as a puzzle game sounded new and unique: use a weapon that turns back time on individual objects aboard a space station to stop the Earth from exploding.
I continued to cover the game and its various trailer drops, excited to finally go hands-on with it, wondering if it’d live up to what those trailers presented. I’m happy to say that it does, and then some. I respect that Stubby Games has no problem speaking to its Portal inspiration – why try to hide it? Portal is one of the best puzzle games ever made, and it has inspired countless games like it. To that note, The Entropy Centre is very sci-fi, uses an orange and blue color palette atop an otherwise space-y and brutalist compound of puzzles, and features a talking AI that humorously guides you through the objectives before you.
Where The Entropy Centre differentiates itself from Portal and the rest of the puzzle genre is what its talking gun can do. You can pick up objects with it, which will be necessary to move them around a given puzzle space, but more importantly, you can turn back time on a specific thing. Let’s say you have two puzzle pads: one opens a door atop some stairs, and the other opens a second door beyond the first one. If you place one orange-trimmed box on a pad and step on the other, you’ll see both doors open, leading you to the exit of this puzzle room. But you must walk through those doors, so that won’t work.
Instead, you need to use the gun to place the box on the last puzzle pad you need to activate and then move it to the first one you need to activate. In this instance, which is one present in the game, you need to go through the first door after using the box to activate the puzzle pad connected to it and then, on the other side, fire your gun’s time-reversing ray at the box to move it back to other pad, which then opens up the final door. And there you have it – that’s a puzzle solved.
Each of these solved puzzles was met with a funny joke from my talking gun and a monitor in the exit hallway that showed how long it took to solve the puzzle and how much entropy the station gained. This entropy is what powers the space station’s time-reversing abilities. Much like your gun, the station is equipped with a massive Death Star-like beam that can reverse time on the entire planet of Earth, for example. My demo with The Entropy Centre, which you can check out right now on PC as part of the Steam Next Fest, ended with my protagonist watching Earth explode. I imagine The Entropy Centre’s conceit is that you must solve enough puzzles aboard this space station to build up enough entropy to reverse the Earth’s explosion, saving everyone who lives there.
It’s a fun sci-fi idea, and I like that each puzzle seemingly plays into the overall narrative. Between that, the variety of challenging puzzles in my hour-long demo, and the Portal-esque humor that I can already see becoming a great foundation for a friendship between the protagonist and her special gun, have me excited to check out the final product next month.