Entangled

by Dark Star profile

Slice of Life
2020

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Number of Reviews: 5
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Competently coded, underdeveloped world, November 1, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

I will play any time travel game, full stop. Knowing that Entangled has eight endings had me jazzed to dive in. Unfortunately, after finding the first ending I had little desire to find the rest.

Entangled is a game with a bunch of neat set pieces with little world view or motivation for them existing. The PC is at first motivated to find his friend across town because his friend's wife is being obnoxious. This is interrupted by the motivation to help a delusional man in the street for no apparent reason. The game literally won't let you find your friend until you get rid of the guy but the PC is given no motivation to do so. The actual reason is to force the player to explore the town and talk to all the characters before finding the time machine, but since I was focused more on the puzzle than the exploration, I didn't get much out of it.

After the PC time travels, the objective becomes more focused, though my motivation did not. Getting back to one's own time is simple enough, but finding the other seven endings presumably is done by further exploration and manipulating the lives of your friends/neighbors across town. But other than finding endings, I found little motivation to do this. I have no reason to care about these characters or their lives, because the only thing I know about the PC is that he hates his friend's wife and the only thing I know about the NPCs are highlights from their biographies.

Take for example Nick, one of the primary NPCs. He runs a tattoo shop and he used to play music.

>ask about tattoos
"I've been doing it for around 30 years now. I think I've learned my art. If you're looking for something. Let me know."

>ask about music
"You like it? It's some stuff that I wrote when I lived in Los Angeles. It's a little dated now. But I think it has a solid beat."

>ask about Los Angeles
"Yeah, I used to live out there. Some crazy times. I played guitar for a few bands, but wrote a hit with this one guy. Axl. Made pay dirt there. He went off and made it big. I took the money and ran."


Wait, so Nick could have been in Guns 'N Roses? That's amazing! Except Nick shows no emotion about it. No wistfulness. No regret. Not even interest. He just casually mentions it as trivia, not expecting that anybody even knows who he's talking about. I presume that if I were to play my cards right, I could in the past convince Nick to not give up guitar and he could make it big. But since he doesn't seem to care, I don't either.

Atmosphere is a problem throughout. Most of the things that happen are just cuckoo bananas but the descriptions are so perfunctory one would think that androids are observing. Early in the game when the delusional guy is ranting about UFOs, most people in town dismiss him or believe he's seeing meteor showers. You can humor him by trying to see what he's seeing.

>x lights
You look up, seeing a streak in the sky for a second. You suppose it's a ufo.


So now the PC thinks that something incredible and life-changing could be happening around them, and they just suppose and move on. Not that I want the author to lay out all of the PC's thoughts out on the table. But there's no sense of wonderment or awe or descriptions to elicit feeling. Everything just is.

All of that said, the game is coded extremely well. It appears the author worked on the game for four years and it was in beta-testing for about eight months, so they did their due diligence. The game responds to most reasonable things you can try and the NPCs respond to a ton of different questions. The game pushes the player gently when needed and the in-game hints are written well. I wouldn't have written such a lengthy review if there still wasn't so much more potential to be unleashed. I really wanted to like Entangled. But when a game's core is about the fate of the lives of humans, more time needs to be spent exploring the humanity.