The floor is lava in Glyph, Bolverk Games’ charming 3D platformer.
Creating a platforming game is no easy task. Making a successful and enjoyable platforming game is even harder. A solid concept just isn’t enough. It takes outstanding, if not unique, mechanics and tight controls.
Luckily for Glyph, it has those in spades.
In this 3D platformer, you play as the Glyph, a sphere-shaped scarab tasked with reviving a fallen civilization. You’ll explore a deserted world consumed by the treacherous sands of a deadly desert.
Glyph Me More
It’s easiest to separate the game into two main components: the hub world and the actual levels.
The hub world is a giant and desolate ruin slowly being reclaimed by the sand. After a short, tutorial you’re set loose to explore it. The hub world features no strict progression route, so you’re free to go off and progress in any direction you wish. However, while the first section is open and the initial levels are available, you’ll quickly learn that you need to unlock other areas to progress.
That’s where levels come in. There are two types of levels in Glyph: exploration and time trials. Exploration levels drop you into a self-contained open-world. You’re free to roam, explore, and collect items at your own pace. There are no time limits, and generally no enemies, to hinder your progress. You’ll need to collect coins, gems, artifacts, and more in order to progress in the hub world.
In order to successfully exit each level, you’ll also need to pick up the required amount of keys and make it to the exit portal. The challenge comes from the fact the touching anything but a platform results in instant death. While you’ll keep any coins or gems you’ve picked up, you’ll lose your keys and any secrets you’ve found.
On the other hand, time trials are purely challenges. You’ll need to run through each course as quickly as you can while grabbing keys to the portal. Beating specific times will earn you up to three gems.
Why would you go through the trouble of collecting coins, gems, and artifacts? Because they are integral to your progression. Unlocking more areas of the hub world requires gems. Opening up new exploration levels requires coins. And time trials are only accessible after paying in artifacts.
The gameplay loop is simple, but highly effective. You’re constantly pushing yourself to explore and collect, regardless of difficulty, so that you can continue progressing.
Glyph boasts incredibly tight controls. Whether you’re on the ground or in the air, controlling your little scarab ball is intuitive and enjoyable. You feel the momentum as you fly through the air in a daring attempt to reach a far-off platform. Precise controls also means that you can easily fine-tune your positioning when it comes time to land. In my time with Glyph, I never felt like I failed because of finicky controls.
That speaks volumes about the care and dedication Bolverk Games put into making Glyph a top-tier, enjoyable platformer.
Beyond the crisp controls, you have access to several abilities for traversal. Double jumps, ground pound, and gliding all work together and give you complete freedom in how you approach exploration. These abilities allow newcomers to confidently make their way through each level, but it’s in the hands of experienced players that they really shine.
With enough practice, exploration becomes an aerial ballet in which you’ll only ever touch the ground for a few moments.
Lots Of Levels, Lots Of Customization
Glyph contains more than 80 levels. Each one is expertly crafted to be a fair challenge while also giving players the opportunity to make flashy plays. Moreover, difficulty progresses naturally. In other words, you won’t ever feel as if the challenge suddenly spiked. You also get a visual representation, measured in skulls, of a level’s difficulty before you hop in.
It is worth noting that a lot of levels share similar backgrounds, but in terms of actual content, they are all wildly different. Glyph also sports a simple art style which works perfectly for the game. You can instantly tell what is deadly and what isn’t.
The entire game is complimented by a subtle yet beautiful soundtrack.
But what’s a game of this scope without a little customization? Glyph features a wide variety of skins and trails to find and collect. Exploration levels will grant you skins if you can find them and successfully exit. Time trials grant you trails if you manage to be the best time. Not only does this let you tailor your flying ball how you desire, it also adds to the game’s already fantastic replay value. You’ll find yourself jumping back into levels just to find that one skin or trying to beat a time trial to get an exotic trail.
Best of all, there are no microtransactions. Everything is unlock able simply by playing the game. Of course, it won’t always be easy. If you want a skin or a trail, you have to work for it.
A Glyph In The System
As polished as Glyph is, my main point of frustration is the camera. As a 3D platformer, you’ll control the camera almost as much as you control your character. This can become tedious at times, especially in the heat of a challenging jump. I’ve failed more than a few times, especially in time trials, while trying to reposition the camera after a quick midair adjustment.
Other than that, Glyph is so polished and its gameplay so intuitive, it’s difficult to find any other faults without delving into the realm of nitpicking.
Incredibly, Glyph is a game that manages to be challenging without adding any more stress to your day.
It’s the perfect pick up and play game and will appeal to newcomers and genre enthusiasts alike. Simply put, it’s the type of game that you expect to play for 15 minutes, only to put it down and discover that an hour has passed.
It begs you to return and challenge yourself to beat you best times, to finish that trial, or to unlock that specific skin you want. It keeps you playing thanks to its intuitive mechanics and addictive gameplay. Whether you just want to complete the game or take your time to unlock everything it has to offer, Glyph is a guaranteed great time.