You can’t fault the effort, anyway.
If you watched Sony’s E3 2014 conference then you’ll know all about the saccharine Entwined, a game where you play a fish and a bird that are immortally bound by love but can never be together.
Yeah… it’s a bit much for a game that is, in essence, a rhythm action game.
But the surprise of its release – it came out during Sony’s conference – and its frankly pretentious design hasn’t made up for the lacking core gameplay.
So the crux of Entwined here is your ability to control both bird and fish, with each stuck to a half circle on screen and mapped to either of the thumbsticks.
The goal, as much as there can be, is to match the position of both characters to their corresponding position – red or blue – with the approaching markers. Psychedelic Guitar Hero if you will.
If nothing else Entwined is a fairly serene experience, truth be told, as the quaint music and chimes pair with brightly coloured backdrops.
Thatgamecompany’s Flower is probably the best touchstone for this one, though admittedly that’s overstating Entwined’s quality of gameplay a little bit.
Once you’ve filled both fish and bird’s meter, the two can attempt to combine – where you’ll need to successfully complete each wave of markers in tandem, ultimately bringing the pair closer together.
Each of the nine stages finish with the combined fish/bird (Fird? Bish?) exploring a 3D landscape while looking to collect some (but not all) of the environment’s orbs. It’s not challenging, compelling or… well, any fun.
This section is most like Flower but, again, without the same underlying quality or inquistive rewards.
The Arbitrary Nature Of Entwined
But the bit that most encapsulates Entwined is the climax of each stage. After gathering up a bunch of those orbs, you finish by holding L1 and R1 to write in the sky.
Or, in other words, spend about 10 seconds with a trail of light glittering behind your Fird, for no reason other than because the game tells you to.
Maybe it means something. Maybe it’s meant to be emotive, or represent the Fird’s exuberant glee at finally being bound together.
But honestly that kind of preposterous, wanky train of thought just ruins a game that, at its very base, could have been at the very least an interesting spin on the rhythm action genre.
Entwined as an entirety is veru clearly a eulogy for a couple’s life together, but even if Sony hadn’t told us all that during the conference it would’ve been apparent to practically everyone – it’s like writing a poem with a chisel; the effect is the same, but it lacks any degree of subtlety.
As a result the ‘meaning’ of the game is the only overriding thought you’ll have about Entwined, and it really shouldn’t be the case.
It’s one of those situations where the ‘story’ has dictated the gameplay, and very few games can proudly claim that was a success. Entwined is no different.
What perhaps should be a heartfelt swell – yes, akin to Flower – instead entices little more than a roll of the eyes and a dispassionate sigh. Subtlety was needed here.
It doesn’t help that the core gameplay itself evokes little in the way of a response.
It’ll be no more than an hour’s worth of gameplay with Entwined and while you won’t necessarily hate any of that time, you won’t exactly be enjoying yourself either; the cardinal sin for any videogame.
It’s bizarre to think that £6.49 is too much for Entwined, but you won’t get either the hours or the enjoyment out of it to make it worth that much.
And even despite the short run time, it doesn’t feel like Entwined would actually benefit from any extra content – what with its core being as limited and simplistic as it is. It doesn’t push its luck in this regard, but nor does it feel worth the price.
Entwined is, at best, a cute experiment for Sony.
It allowed the company to be seen as backing the just-out-of-uni underdogs during its E3 2014 conference – a PR move, make no doubt – but the game just can’t compete with those delightfully honourable origins.
Version tested: PS4