When I was a little kid playing on my parent’s NES, I used to love Marble Madness. There hasn’t quite been a game quite like the original NES or arcade version, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to regain that childhood marble-based thrill. Okay, I’m being a tad facetious here, but there was something about the weight and motion in Marble Madness that mad it maddeningly difficult in a way only Super Monkey Ball has come close to achieving. Glyph looked like it could have been a serious contender, but Glyph is more about platforming than momentum.
Glyph is a platforming game where you take control of a mechanical scarab, which spends most of its time as a ball. As this ball you can roll, jump, and glide through various platforming challenges. In it, you play as a mechanical scarab which spends most of its time as a ball. Your ultimate goal is to cleanse the corrupted Heart of Creation. How do you do this? Platforming, of course—specficially: serene platforming. Most of the time, you can play Glyph at your own pace as you jump from literal platform to platform, attempting to avoid touching the ground or other hazards, which leads to instant failure. Your goal is to gather three keys to unlock the level’s exit—but while so doing, you can spend your time carefully collecting coins, gems and artifacts—all of which are used as a sort of currency to unlock more levels.
There isn’t much variety in what you can do in Glyph, unfortunately. There are the normal platforming levels, and special time trial levels. In these time trial levels you have far less freedom since you have to complete the level in a set amount of time. If you fail to complete the course in the minimum time, you are instantly failed. You can’t even finish the course as a way to practice—you’re just forced to start at the beginning to try again. Thankfully, failure in the normal platforming levels isn’t this harsh, but it was that way in the tutorial. After failing for the third or fourth time on a jump in the tutorial and being forced to redo the entire level, I almost rage quit Glyph for good.
While Glyph is a bit simple in premise, it could have be fun if it was mechanically satisfying. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much fun in Glyph’s floaty style of platforming. I would have preferred a weightier feeling, but even then, fun and unique challenges would have been enough to keep me entertained. However, Glyph has endless levels of more of the same with hardly any variation. The time trial levels have the potential to be really fun, but they’re a missed opportunity. If you don’t make the minimum time, you can’t even practice the rest of the level as it instantly fails you.
Glyph isn’t a bad game, and it’s certainly possible to enjoy its brand of serene platforming. It’s just a game that never clicked for me, and more often felt frustrating than satisfying. I really dislike how slow and floaty Glyph feels, and its lack of meaningful variety makes Glyph a hard game to defend.
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