Ethan: Meteor Hunter advertises itself as Super Meat Boy meets Braid, and I’m going to go ahead and tell you that if you come in here expecting that, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Ethan lacks both the tight platforming physics of Super Meat Boy and the time-bending puzzle finesse of Braid.

To define what Ethan is, one has to understand what Ethan isn’t.

Let’s get this started.

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The game begins with a charming cutscene explaining what little story there is.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter is not a precision platformer. It wants to be one, but the physics lean far toward the puzzle aspects of the title, and there’s a lot of immediate problems to be addressed- most egregious happens to be the air control.

Yeah, air control. In a platformer, you’re typically afforded with a degree of air control, and all the best platformers have it in spades, especially Super Meat Boy. The only way Ethan is similar to Super Meat Boy is that it’s an indie platformer where you die a lot- but in Super Meat Boy, it’s usually your fault.

This is is not the case in this game. Air control is incredibly difficult to manage, what should be a simple precision jump becomes a frustrated retry, and even after three hours into the game it still feels like an imprecise mess when it comes to the platforming.

This becomes especially noticeable in a minigame stage, which happens to be dependent entirely upon…

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This is Air Control to Major Tom. Please never make me play this stage again.

Ethan is also not a quirky time puzzle title, like Braid. It has time puzzles, yes, but comparing it to Braid’s system is just plain false advertising. You know how in Braid you can reverse time to exactly the second you want?

In Ethan, your time reversal is limited to simply holding down the R key and respawning at the most recent checkpoint. This is useful if you happen to mess up a puzzle, but this time reversal mechanic has no actual gameplay usage beyond being a glorified replay button.

Ethan is not Super Meat Boy or Braid. It is not a precision platformer, nor is it a time manipulation puzzle game.

Ethan is something different.

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With my Freeze Ray, I will…

Ethan’s puzzles are about stopping time, not manipulating it. When you stop time, Ethan and the rest of the world is suspended in limbo while you act upon the game’s world…colored objects can be manipulated, and this results in plenty of exciting sequences where you have to rapidly freeze and unfreeze time to move the right pieces into place to stay alive.

This concept shows off the potential of the game, and there’s plenty of fun gameplay moments to be had with it.

Unfortunately, the game’s physics are a bit…off. While the physics issues aren’t as apparent in puzzle sequences, since the game was clearly designed for them, you’re still playing a platformer, and a missed jump at the wrong time means a restart from the checkpoint…and this can get extremely frustrating, because while the puzzles themselves are clever and fun, the platforming physics are not, and the gameplay working depends on both of those.

Regardless of its flaws, the game exudes charm through its simple environments, creative concepts and fun atmosphere.

I’ve been very critical of the game, but that’s because I like it. I like it, but I want to love it and I can’t because of the issues it has.

While precision platforming is a bit difficult due to lack of air control, that doesn’t mean the game is broken. In fact, when it comes to slopes and springs, the platforming system shows itself off with bursts of speed and tests of reflex…and when this is combined with the timestoppers, the game really stands on its own two feet.

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It’s hard to evoke through a still image, but sliding down that incline and doing a sick jump off that spring feels great mechanically, and the stages with these sequences are some of the best in the game.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter becomes unfairly frustrating when the platforming and puzzle systems clash- and they will- but whenever they roll together, it feels great, and you really begin to understand what the devs were going for. Physics aside, the level design is great, the art direction is fun (though each of the game’s worlds are pretty long, and they keep the same art style for the duration of each…visual variety could be much better), and the game exudes old-school charm.

It’s just a shame it’s so flawed.

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Ethan: Meteor Hunter Review - Biding for Time
Ethan: Meteor Hunter isn't Super Meat Boy or Braid, and it's not good at pretending to be either one of them. Where it does shine is where it's different, and "unique" is more than befitting this game.
The Good
  • Level design.
  • Unique puzzle concepts.
The Bad
  • Flawed platforming physics.
  • Repetitive art design.
6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)