GAME NAME: Ethan: Meteor Hunter
DEVELOPER(S): Seaven Studio
PUBLISHER(S): Seaven Studio
PLATFORM(S): PSN, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): October 22, 2013
Sometimes a game developer can have too much ambition. You can have all these great ideas, but if you shove to many into one game, it can become a bit of a mess. Sometimes you need to concentrate on one idea to make that spectacular, instead of doing a mediocre job on several different ones. Such is the case of Ethan: Meteor Hunter by French indie developer Seaven Studio. The game showed a good amount of promise in the pre-release trailers. It looked to have a little bit of Super Meat Boy’s tricky platforming and quick deaths mixed with a little of Trine’s floating box mechanic. But once I actually got into the game, I realized this is a combination that mixes as well as peanut butter & petroleum jelly.
The game contains three main worlds that each house a multitude of levels, giving you 50 in all. You navigate these worlds as some kind of mouse/rat thing that has to collect meteor pieces for some reason. Even the press kit doesn’t mention any story details, so I won’t bore you with them here. The point is each level has a certain amount of meteorite fragments to collect as you navigate various traps like steam vents, fire canons and deadly deadly alien water. The platforming sections can be fun at first, but then things grind to a halt when you are forced to stop time and move blocks around to progress. I could have done with more of the obstacle avoiding & fragment grabbing and less with the momentum killing paused platform manipulation. These combinations also extend the stages to be longer then they probably should be. The levels drag on as you go back and forth completing these tasks. It may have made more sense to split the levels up into all platforming and all blocking because it feels weird switching from intense jumping precision to slow and calculated puzzle solving. I would have really liked to see shorter, condensed levels focused on just one mechanic.
The difficulty curve seems to be steep as well. The developers like to promote that anyone can play, from hardcore to normal players. But I found it quite daunting just to complete some of the earlier levels, let alone trying to collect all the fragments, meet the pause power use requirements, or finish in goal time. This could turn some players off early, and is something to keep in mind if you get frustrated easily. Controls are pretty tight, though. It’s easy to manipulate blocks exactly where you want them during the puzzle sequences and jumping around the hazards is natural.
The art style of Ethan the character is hard to determine, since while playing you only see him from far far away. The backgrounds are pretty generic and not really smooth. The green and blue hues that glow from behind some of the scenery is nice, but overall the visuals aren’t anything to write your home planet about. Same goes for the sound. It’s completely forgettable and doesn’t add or subtract from the proceedings. It’s too bad because the potential for some cool views and tunes is definitely there with the game’s premise.
I really thought I would like Ethan: Meteor Hunter. Platformers have been my go-to genre for most of my video gaming days. But this is a case of trying to do too much with a couple decent ideas, rather than making sure at least one of them is above the curve. I just couldn’t get into the game. This small French studio shows promise, but they have a ways to go to make a deep impact in the video game world.