Reviewed on: PC
Publisher: Bolverk Games
Developer: Bolverk Games
Available on: PC, Switch
Glyph wants to be much more than it is, but what it is is already pretty good. Combining a pastel-shaded desert atmosphere, calming music and some surprisingly in-depth platforming, it's a puzzle platformer with big aspirations that doesn't quite hit the highs it wants to, but soars on its own merits.
Well, puzzle platformer may not be entirely correct. Glyph plays like something between Super Monkey Ball, Marble Madness and a 3D Mario platformer. You play as a tiny scarab rolled into a sphere, rolling his way around levels, jumping between platforms and collecting coins, keys and gems to unlock more levels from an expansive hub world. You spend most of your time rolling around and, while initially, it may seem like it's going to be about delicately balancing and manoeuvring around courses, it quickly becomes clear as you unlock double jumps, ground-smashes and chain together jump refreshes that this is less about delicate balance and precision as it is fully utilising a suite of movement abilities to deftly collect items and complete time trials.
Those jumps are reliant on controls which, for the most part, work pretty well. Everything is as responsive as you would hope for a game reliant on precision movement and an indicator of where you're going to land helps a lot in managing the game's momentum-based physics. That said, the physics do lean a little floaty and you spend a lot more time airborne than you would expect. Majestic as it is to soar above a ruined desert landscape, it's also frustrating when you overshoot platforms for the 10th time because gravity didn't behave entirely as it should. It's a game that feels like you need to spend some time with it to master its suite of controls, but once you do I imagine it's the sort of thing speedrunners will be impressing within a year or two.
There is a plot here, and an atmosphere to go with it. Desolate ruined temples and cemeteries, crumbling sands. Snippets of lore are sprinkled throughout, but across 80 levels that can be tackled in any order, this tends to feel a little disjointed and doesn't quite live up to the grandiose scale it seems to be going for. It feels like an attempt to put the quiet storytelling of something like Journey or Rime into a skill-based platformer like Monkeyball and the two don't quite fit. What is here though is more than enough content, with 80 levels to master, hundreds of collectables to find and time trials to complete. Glyph doesn't hold back on content and, while I haven't mastered it yet, I'll be coming back to it for some time.