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Ether One (PS4 Port) Review: A Forgettable Journey About Treating Dementia
It’s ironic that a game about trying to help someone recover their memories has me wishing I could just forget ever playing it. Ether One has been one the most frustrating games I have ever beat due to all the technical issues I experienced while making my way throw this slog. Which is a shame as it has an interesting core of environmental and exploration bases puzzle solving, under all those issues. Even after a massive patch that made the game beatable, it still has major problems that just can’t be ignored.
In Ether One you are a “Restorer” who works for the Ether Institute to help cure people of their dementia. A restorer is a person who has some kind of telepathic ability and can enter the memories of people. The memories you will be entering this time are those of a 69 year old women named Jean Thorntan with the help of Doctor Phyllis in the real world. The memories are of her childhood home of the English town of Pinwheel and its sounding area. The town of Pinwheel is broken up into four different sections which will serve as the different levels of the game. With a fiftieth area called “The Case” which is a hub for all the important information you gather, item storage and core memories, which you are travel too at any time.
The core of Ether One has you walking around these four areas looking for different items and notes needed to access core memories or complete puzzles. The design of Ether One is interesting as you don’t have to complete a single puzzle in the game after the first in the tutorial to complete it. Instead progression is made by finding eight red ribbons that are placed around the level. You will know a ribbon is close to you because your controller will start making a noise when in close proximity. After you collect all eight you must return to the case, where you can now access a core memory and afterword the next zone is open to you.
The puzzles in this game are signified by a finding a broken projector lying on the ground. Puzzles often are solved by picking up an item or note and using that to complete a task that was left unfinished in the area. One example is I had to complete an assistant’s job by reading a note a with locker combinations on it, then using those combinations to searching some lockers, and it ended with me making my boss some special cup of coffee. Each puzzle has about three steps you have to complete to restore it and there are 20 projectors in total with each level having 5 besides the first which has 4 and 1 in the tutorial level. Most of the puzzles are handled pretty well with everything you need to solve it being in the general proximity of the projector. With only a few exceptions making you go to different areas of the level or in one instance back to a completely different level, which I could not figure out on my own. After you fix the projector you are rewarded with a short audio clip of Doctor Phyllis using an item that is dear to Jean to try and help her memory.
The only change up to that basic formula of collect ribbons and solving puzzles which comes in the form of “The Artifact”, which is a lantern. This lantern is special because you can look at a restorer plaque with R2 (which located in the level each) and it will reverse time and fix a broken structure. This however is not used in any puzzle I saw, instead it just gives you access to a note for some extra story.
And while there are four different levels in the game, the third area is completely optional it seems. Which is off putting as the game has a core memory attached to that area and the dialog in the forth area assumes you have done that area already. But I never got to do that area as I thought the fourth area was actually the third and when I completed that levels core memory the game threw me into the last stretch of the game so I could never go back. This however is not a glitch or the game messing up somehow, it’s just very questionable design choice on the developer’s part.
Now speaking of glitches and the game being messed up, this game is a mess. It is at least better after the massive patch that doubled the size of the game, where before the patch I could not even beat the game. Here I can beat the game but it still has a good amount of crashes. And for a game that does not look at great and has very little going on the frame rate just dies at times, making movement feel very super bad. Where the game angered me the most was when I was trying to solve the puzzle where I had to go back to an old level. The game froze when I started to enter another area, and would not load again, and I was in the final stretch of the game. So I had just lost my fourth save and had to start the game all over again for the fifth time. But hey at least they made the puzzles optional so plowing through the game can be quick although very boring.
Ether One ends on an interesting note, but instead of taking in the scene how the developers wanted I could only give a sigh of relief as my time with this game was finally over. This game could have been something good and interesting, but instead it’s just a mess of technical issues that robs people of what it could of been. When the game works its good but it rarely stays that way for long. Maybe down the road they may patch the game again, but with what I had to go through to complete this game I just can’t recommend people play it.
This was played on the PlayStation 4.