Review: The  Entropy Center Has You Saving the World by Solving Puzzles

It’s so easy to compare one video game to another when writing reviews. While that’s something I try to avoid, it’s hard, especially when a game does little to hide its inspiration. Such is the case with The Entropy Centre, a game that is full of its own ideas, but takes wholesale inspiration from the Portal series.

The Entropy Centre is a puzzle game played from the first person perspective. In it you play as Aria, seemingly the last human left alive after a mysterious cataclysmic event.  But that’s okay, because as an Entropy Centre Puzzle solver, it’s your job to save the Earth. And how do you do that? Through puzzle solving, of course. But while the Entropy Centre has been saving the Earth from cataclysmic events for decades, something has gone terribly wrong.  Aided by ASTRA, your AI inhabited time reversing gun, it’s your job to figure out what happened to the Entropy Centre and its employees—and to save Earth.

Screenshot: The Entropy Centre

At the core of The Entropy Centre is a Sci-Fi mystery, and I can’t help but get wrapped up in those. While your AI companion ASTRA provides some levity and lore context, it never quite matches up with Portal’s GLADoS, despite some very on the nose parallels--there’s even a fat joke thrown in there at one point. While The Entropy Centre doesn’t make any overt references to the Portal series, it’s almost unashamed in how much it copies Valve, but changes just enough to make it its own thing. But what makes a great puzzle game isn’t just the set decorations, but the puzzles themselves.  

 As an Entropy Centre employee, your job is to solve puzzles to create entropy, which powers the organization’s time-reversing technology, which they use on large scale to help Earth avoid destruction. On a smaller scale, this technology is used to solve puzzles. You can’t just go reversing anything and everything, however—only puzzle elements can be rewound, as well as environmental elements that have recently been changed. That usually means you can un-break walls, reconstruct walkways, etc. But the bread and butter of The Entropy Centre is its cube-based puzzle solving.

Screenshot: The Entropy Centre

The Entropy Centre does a good job easing you into its various puzzle mechanics. You start with putting blocks on pressure switches, and eventually move up to more complicated mechanics involving walkways, lasers, block transforming fields and more. You can carry blocks, and most importantly, rewind their position in space time—or even freeze them in place, stuck in time until you manipulate another object or release them. Each object can only be rewound a finite amount of time—about 36 seconds or so.

I always say that puzzle games are easier or harder based on whoever is playing them.  I found the puzzles in The Entropy Centre to be incredibly easy. I’m not sure why, but I was rarely stumped for more than a few moments. It feels like the nature of the time rewinding systems in The Entropy Centre restrict the possible solutions. And most puzzles simply require you to work backwards to make them work. Even towards the end of the game, when most of the puzzle systems are incorporated, there are only ever one or two parts to consider. Even when I completed a particularly difficult puzzle, I never really felt that “a ha!” moment that made playing Portal and Portal 2 so satisfying.

Screenshot: The Entropy Centre

More than easy puzzles, some of the puzzles felt a little half baked. Sometimes I found myself solving a puzzle while bypassing certain elements completely. I wasn’t intentionally trying to cheese them, but sometimes the most obvious answer felt like an unintended one—which makes the puzzles feel a rough around the edges. I didn’t run into any bugs in my playthrough, however, so at least from my experience The Entropy Centre is sound on a technical level.

While The Entropy Centre takes a lot of cues from Portal, its time reversing puzzle mechanic is pretty different than the portals of Portal. However, its aping of Portal is probably some of its best parts in regards to the setting and lore. It’s too bad the puzzles themselves never felt as refined or engaging  as Portal’s challenges. But if you’re looking for a decent puzzle game with a mystery at its heart, The Entropy Centre is a pretty good option.

The Entropy Centre is available now on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store as well as on PlayStation and Xbox.

A Steam key was provided to us for this review

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.