The center of entropy developed by newcomer Stubby Games and published by Playstck brings back the surface level feel of Valve’s puzzle platforming masterpiece Gate. However, before launching the credits of this game, I found that it was clearly defined as the beginning of a whole new genre of games, intellectual action.
You’ll play as Aria, who wakes up on the lunar facility known as the Center of Entropy on the brink of collapsing destroyed earth. You are tasked with solving puzzles to create enough entropy energy to reverse time to prevent Earth from being erased in the first place. Stubby Games tells a mysterious veteran-level story full of complexity in all the right ways. Most first out mysteries writers make the mistake of not pulling out the right amount of information at one point or throwing it all up. The Entropy Center never lets you fully solve the mystery until it guides you there. I loved how it allowed me to not only solve puzzles, but also worry about Aria’s memories returning.
In this abandoned brutalist facility, you solve color-coded puzzles mostly with orange and blue using your gravity gun/AI companion named Astra, who has an eccentric personality. It should definitely remind you mechanically of Portal and that’s far from a bad thing. The first half of the game is all about mastering time-rewinding puzzle solving for the more challenging second half of the game. Puzzles you’ve done in games for years, tutorial level moving the block to put on weight button to unlock the door for you. Basically, solving a puzzle in The Entropy Center requires you to figure out where you need to end up and work backwards to find the beginning.
As you work hard enough to map out how to record your movements with the block to rewind time in a way that lets you be in two places at once, you’ll start to get tired of it. That’s when things kick up a notch that puts Entropy Center into overdrive. The evil AI versions in the building start to scare you and your gaming adrenaline starts to kick in.
It is in the second and third acts of the game that it turns into a new kind of experience. Not only are you using your cerebral cortex to find the key to solving the puzzle that allows you to move on to the next puzzle, but you are now being hunted down in a visceral methodical fashion. These two elements could have collided to create a jarring experience, but they’re perfectly balanced so that the action around you is part of the puzzle you need to solve at the time.
For nearly a decade, original ideas in games were blips among sequels and remakes of the same name. The best games this year have mostly been obscure titles that merged genres or experimented with what came before. The center of entropy is a love letter to its influences but it doesn’t end there, in the end you’ll really feel like it’s something you’ve never seen before. It’s not perfect, there are its share of lulls and bugs but for a first outing for Stubby Games, I can’t wait to see what they do next.
The Entropy Center is available on Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 4/5.