Released earlier this year, Glyph is a unique take on puzzle-platformers. The developer has created this game with the mantra “Easy to learn, but hard to master”. Albeit a very crowded and competitive genre, read our review to find out what we think of Bolverk Games’ debut on the Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Bolverk Games
Published by Bolverk Games
Released: 11th January 2021
Review copy provided by Bolverk Games
As a small bug named Glyph, you live in what can only be described as a post-apocalyptic world guided by your friend Anobi, another bug of the same species. With the ultimate goal of rebuilding an ancient temple, Glyph must traverse through each level collecting hidden secrets and artifacts, assisted in part by his friend Anobi who will provide you with hints on how to find these.
Glyph is solely focused on gameplay so there is not much to say about the story surrounding the game itself. Each level has platforms which are “safe” and will charge your jump when you touch them, you will be surrounded by the likes of sand, snow, water and sometimes clouds which, if you touch, you will die and have to start the level again. Although there are no checkpoints, Coins and Gems will be kept in your inventory while Keys and Artifacts won’t, which is a really well thought out way of keeping the game balanced and not too easy.
Glyph spends most of the game curled up into a ball as this is how he navigates the various levels. The controls are heavily responsive and require the player to act very precisely in their movements, for example, as Glyph maneuvers through each level you will need to correctly estimate jumping, gliding and sometimes slamming to the ground to ensure your safety. Some platforms are very small and spread far apart so timing is everything – one moment too soon or too late can be catastrophic for the player, especially if you have just finished obtaining the collectibles and keys. As infuriating as this can be, to the point where I wanted to snap my Switch in half, it is considerably a fantastic and well balanced challenge.
Glyph will build momentum as he rolls which can be used to jump further distances in the air. Throughout the tutorial, led by our good friend Anobi, the player will learn to double jump, glide and bounce – all of which are essential in almost every single level. Personally, I found the controls a bit difficult at first, but after half an hour or so with the game, it felt like second nature. I now find myself bounding through levels and taking leaps I never was brave enough to before, and it’s incredibly fun and satisfying when you finally get to grips with the control system.
Each level comprises of four collectibles; Keys, Coins, Gems and Artifacts. Keys are necessary to unlock the portal at the end of the level for completion, while Coins, Gems and Artifacts are considerably more optional. This is where the developer’s mantra of “easy to learn, hard to master” comes into play. If you want to blast through a level only collecting keys and the bare minimum, you can. However, to unlock more levels along the way you do need to spend your collectibles to do so. Each level also possesses a hidden “Secret” – the player needs to activate a button and they will be able to obtain either a new Avatar or a new Trail simply for aesthetic purposes while playing. While it’s great the developer has found a way of making these somewhat extra collectibles essential, I did find this worked as a bit of a detriment for the game also. Sometimes I found myself just wanting to move on to the next level, but I needed to find some more Gems or Artifacts, which are rarer than coins, to proceed but I had to replay the same levels over again.
Each level is defined as either a “Time Trial” or “Exploration” course. The time trial courses will give you a Bronze, Silver or Gold scoring. Depending on your scoring, you will receive one, two or three Gems respectively as a reward. These levels see you race to the end as quickly as possible whilst collecting Keys along the way. Even getting Bronze can be rather difficult and I felt myself wanting to snap my Switch in half for the most part of these levels. Whilst some of the Time Trial challenges are fun, I really do wish they were slightly more lenient, or even perhaps shoved in the corner as bonus challenges. The game really shines in the Exploration levels. There is no time limit, you are free to explore and collect treasure at your leisure and, best of all, there is no “life” system. This means if you die, you simply restart at the beginning of the level with any treasure collected along the way, barring Secrets, Keys and Artifacts. Hopefully this doesn’t make the game sound too easy – respawning with most of your treasure is exactly the right balance this game needs to keep the player wanting more but equally not feeling too fed up of having to start at the beginning once again.
It’s safe to say Glyph isn’t for everyone. It’s a perfectly difficult 3D Platformer with more collectibles than you can possibly imagine. If you are the type of gamer who craves difficulty and finds themselves obsessive about 100%ing a game, this is for you. There is no shortage of collectibles and secrets to unlock that will keep you playing for hours and hours on end. If you are looking for a more casual and perhaps relaxed platformer, this probably isn’t for you.