Ether One is a first person adventure that deals with the fragility of the human mind. There are two paths in the world you can choose from. At its core is a story exploration path free from puzzles where you can unfold the story at your own pace.
User reviews:
Overall:
Mostly Positive (308 reviews) - 78% of the 308 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Mar 25, 2014

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Reviews

“The world of Ether One is a superbly detailed and well thought-out place.”
4/5 – Joystiq

“It’s been just two days since I last player Ether One and I’ve not stopped thinking about it since. I thought about it before I went to bed last night, and the night before. I thought about it when I woke up this morning. I thought about it when I had lunch. So far I’ve sunk 12 hours into a game easily completable in four. I’ve not nearly managed to restore all of the projectors. And I've hardly scratched the surface.”
9/10 – Strategy Informer

“Superb: A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.”
9/10 – Destructoid

About This Game



Ether One is a first person adventure that deals with the fragility of the human mind.

There are two paths in the world you can choose from. At its core is a story exploration path free from puzzles where you can unfold the story at your own pace.

There is also a deeper, more adventurous path in which you can complete complex puzzles to restore life changing events of the patients history in order to help the validation of their life.

Parallel paths make Ether One accessible to a range of skilled players. Invite your friends and family around to pick their brains for help taking on challenging environmental puzzles, or soak in the atmosphere of Pinwheel at leisure. From a young age we enjoyed the first person puzzle games that required you to write cryptic notes on spare pieces of paper to unravel mysteries. Ether One aims to bring back pen and paper puzzle solving, whilst still being accessible and optional for people not wanting to get stuck and frustrated on the harder puzzles.

features

  • First Person Adventure Game.
  • Open narrative exploration in the town of Pinwheel.
  • Optional puzzle solving.
  • Accessible gameplay with additional controller support for players that aren’t as skilled with complex controls.
  • Challenging pen and paper puzzle design you can decrypt at your own pace.

Deluxe Edition




The Ether One Deluxe Edition comes with the Ether One OST, Game Script, & Comics along with a few more goodies. Please note that there is no additional in-game content.

The Ether One Original Soundtrack by Nathaniel-Jorden Apostol features more than 40 minutes of music created exclusively for Ether One. The soundtrack comes with MP3 & FLAC format along with custom artwork for the soundtrack.

MP3 & FLAC format files will be placed in the Ether One folder in the Steam Directory: ...Steam\steamapps\common\EtherOne\Soundtrack

The Ether One game scripts contain all of the spoken dialogue along with some things that got cut from the game. We hope you find it interesting to see how we developed the narrative for Ether One. Please note: These scripts contain spoilers for the game. You may wish to finish Ether One before reading these. We have noted down specifically which game script contain spoilers in the download.

PDF format files will be placed in the Ether One folder in the Steam Directory: ...Steam\steamapps\common\EtherOne\Scripts

The Strange Tale of Byron Spencer was created by Mark Penman & coloured by Andrew Tunney. It provides an alternative fiction for the world of Pinwheel.

PDF format files will be placed in the Ether One folder in the Steam Directory: ...Steam\steamapps\common\EtherOne\Comics

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows Vista, 7 or 8
    • Processor: 2.2+ Ghz Dual-Core
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 460 or equivalent
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Windows XP is not supported for Ether One. Laptop equivalent GPU's struggle in comparison to desktop GPU's. VR: Ether One currently only supports the DK1 Oculus developer kit. We're hopefully going to provide updated Oculus support in future updates.
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows Vista, 7 or 8
    • Processor: 2.6+ Ghz Dual-Core
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 560 or equivalent
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Windows XP is not supported for Ether One. Laptop equivalent GPU's struggle in comparison to desktop GPU's. VR: Ether One currently only supports the DK1 Oculus developer kit. We're hopefully going to provide updated Oculus support in future updates.
Customer reviews
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Overall:
Mostly Positive (308 reviews)
Recently Posted
SleepThieff
( 0.1 hrs on record )
Posted: June 27
Ether One is probably the most subjective game I have ever played due to its story and game design choices. I would recommend taking each review with a grain of salt (like most reviews) and make the choice for yourself.

I've reviewed a lot of games and I generally have a clear vision of whether or not I would recommend them - but none have baffled me as much as Ether One. What's odd about Ether One is that it's obvious that a lot of love and devotion went into its craft. But while the love is clearly there, the execution (at least for me) is not.

Cricisms:

Ether One is completely story driven and you have the option to play the game in one of two ways:

1) Simply walk through each area, find the main points of interest, and move on with the story - or
2) Solve side puzzles which give more insight and provide additional context to the world and plot

To give the puzzles more context - the puzzles, for the most part, are not obvious and tend to be obscure. Some puzzles cannot be solved immediately and you must wait until you find another area or more information in later parts of the game and then return to finish the puzzle. Overall, the puzzles are NOT easy and sometimes don't make a whole lot of sense.

And herein lies the problem. I know stories are subjective to each individual, but I personally did not find the main story plot interesting - or at minimum, I did not find it engaging - which leads into the next section.

Remember, the puzzles are optional - you do not have to complete a single puzzle to finish this game (minus 1 puzzle in the opening act). Since I was not forced to complete any puzzles I felt less invested in the story. I think completing puzzles gets the player more invested and engaged. Allowing the player to simply bypass the puzzles does not create an interactive experience. If the player isn't engaged, then it's possible the player may find the story less engaging as well.

If I wanted to discover more about the plot, I could go out and complete some of the side puzzles in order to learn more. But that's the problem. If the main story doesn't draw you in, then why would you go out and solve side puzzles? You simply wouldn't. I would have enjoyed Ether One more if the puzzles were woven into the gameplay (like in the very first area you are forced to solve a few puzzles - why wasn't that continued at least a few more times?)

Verdict:

I think Ether One can be an emotionally rewarding game. Solving the difficult puzzles and learning more about the characters and their past is definitely a solid feeling.

Like I said in the beginning - it's obvious the developers put a lot of craft and love into Ether One. There are many reviews saying just how well thought out and beautiful Ether One's story is. I personally couldn't get into the story and therefore I had no interest in solving the puzzles. I wish the puzzles were more integrated rather than being completely optional. For this reason, while Ether One is certainly a well written and thought out game, the execution just seems awkward - and for that reason I can't recommend it.

Without doing the puzzles Ether One is rather short - about 3-4 hours to complete. Obviously if you are completing the puzzles the hours will vary beyond that.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
corpuscular trash
( 8.4 hrs on record )
Posted: June 26
Sometimes one should simply meditate on an experience, for sometimes to explicate is to belittle. When a game is shallow in its presentation, in the various mediums that inhabit a game, there should be no such worry. But a game can sometimes transcend what language can delimit and truly calcify itself as something, as a life-experience. Ether One is a game like that. “Life-experience” is an equivocal term, I suppose. It can be thought of in the Husserlian sense of being a lifeworld (lebenswelt), an experience through the faculties of the body, and as such an Umwelt (vaguely translates to “surrounding world”). And can be seen as the insightful nature of a learning experience. Experience in the sense of wisdom, or knowledge. With that being said, Ether One becomes a twofold experience. On the one hand it is fleshed out in its world building, the player inhabits a physical world, a consistently built world. On the other, we, as players, inhabit a conceptual/metaphorical world. We are experiencing a true fact of the world through analogy, and visual representation of a physical dilemma. It in a way elucidates the split between the behavioral experience of intention and the supposedly immanent but silent world of bodily interactions; a world of pure experience.

These notions are hinted at in the game, and make for a unique world physically, and likewise a uniquely conceptual experience. A unique insight into one aspect of human possibility, especially human beings as they experience their pathological self.

It was with these realizations I found myself in an unusually touching experience. I have come across many games that attempts to deal with heavy topics, but rarely do they reach my humanity, or show any humanity on their own end. Ether One, however, managed express something uniquely human. It almost perfectly delineated the confusion and tragedy of experiencing your own path, perhaps especially the world's path, towards oblivion. I would liken it to a conscious experience of death. Nothing in the world sounds more horrifying. But it is that experience wherein we swirl around as we play Ether One, I believe that is what it – in its core – is trying to put forth.

And that is what constitutes the ache; the desperation of wanting to find out more when side-puzzles are offered to you that give you a small appendage that might prolong the inevitable for a moment longer. If only to have an emotional connection to an item, if only for a strip of light against eternal darkness, you fight and you ache to cling onto that something, the something of tangibility; the something of sensual collisions.

To explain the fleshed out nature of this game, and its brilliant presentation is not an easy matter. It comes with playing, and feeling the impact of everything, hearing the sounds of each step on the different surfaces, of the fading sounds of memories going in and out with differing correspondence to a spatio-physical node. The point being that it feels like a lived in world, like an inhabitable place simply due to the lushness of sounds and objects. Interconnectivity is vital in this regard. There is an interconnectivity of the world itself, the levels as such, along with an interconnectivity of the puzzles and an over all cohesive narrative. It is by virtue of this threefold cohesion of gameplay, world-building and story and their fantastic interplay that makes the atmosphere of Ether One so personable and conducive to lived-experience, and that is personally what adds to its emotional impact; its closeness and solidifying of subjective-experience as actual in this particular game. At moments you are holistically immersed into this world and its stories; and that statement carries weight that cannot be applied to many games.

Moreover, I think the small town setting adds to this homely feeling as well. It's a tight knit community you're reminiscing about, where the economical strife becomes that of everyone's, the family death of the other becomes your own, and so on. There's a strong positive valence in regards to the elements that make up this game. On top of the setting, there is the music that adds to this atmosphere of sentimentality and closeness. The music you play when you interact with the different instruments are jazz-inspired and soft – homely – while the background music is often somber and melancholy, sometimes with a saliently horrifying touch that adds an uneasiness to the experience in the vein of Gone Home. A lot of similarities can be discussed between the two games, but I feel Ether One elevates each aspect of Gone Home in sheer complexity and scope. While Gone Home is confined to a
house, Ether One sans out over a small town, hence making certain oversight acceptable, such as not as much of a fleshed out interactivity with everyday items and their variance.

Personally I much preferred the maturity of this game, its meditation on a truly scary prospect and its ability to visualize this into both narrative and environment. This is a brave game, with one of the most tragic and truthful, thus satisfying, endings I have ever played through that adds to the experience as a whole and what it in each step tries to accomplish. Precisely this makes the game feel thoroughly thought through, and executed according to a proper plan. There are few, if not no, discrepancies or discordant moments, nothing to break immersion or thought-processes that may arise while you're trying to figure out the somewhat circuitous narrative. It's a terribly pleasant experience with a great emphasis on exploration and memory, something that is seemingly simple, but that I imagine would confound most players more often than not (I could easily be wrong in this, ultimately this is a game that transcends its gameplay, rendering that possibility irrelevant).

A final thing that solidifies this game as worthy of time and money spent is the writing. Many games that stray into the more emotional side of storytelling tend to be a bit too mawkish or immature in its expression for its own good. The same goes for voice acting, generally. This game avoids both of those possible downfalls, and lands itself somewhere on the scale of fantastic. Both the writing in its vocalized and written form has a wonderful flow and naturalistic feel to it. It's free from clumsiness or cliché, or arbitrarily obscure poetic language without context. It is very effective and clear, while managing to avoid inane simplicity.

Ether One deserves manifold appreciation for its accomplishments, for each of its elements and how they come together beautifully to create a thing of genuine human expression. A fact of some uniqueness, both in this genre and industry.

Helpful? Yes No Funny
InverseTundra
( 4.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 5
Personally. i actually dont like the game. i want to. i really want too. i lost my grandfather to dementia and i really wanted to enjoy this persay. but it just lost me time and time again. ive tried dedicating myself to it but it loses me immediately. there is nothing there but at times insanely hard puzzles that require more backtracking and running then a marathon. the game has a nice style and is enjoyable (kinda) but not enough to keep me entertained or wanting to continue in the least. :/
Helpful? Yes No Funny
amarinediary
( 0.8 hrs on record )
Posted: May 31
"Brain lags -- @amarinediary"
A well paced puzzle game, in a superb fantastic world, with a great voice acting !
The graphics style is what's making this game beautiful !
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Duncan Hunter
( 50.7 hrs on record )
Posted: May 1
It's not really my thing. The puzzles are kind of counter-intuitive, and the story is predictable at best. I respect it's originality. And in spite of all that, it has beautiful art-direction.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
atlantike
( 0.2 hrs on record )
Posted: April 17
I had toplay a few minutes on Ether One because after playing more than 12h on Ether One Redux I wasn't able to write any comment...
That said...and after all the time played on this game I just have one recommandation: DO NO BUY IT!

I a very nice game, with cute designs and an interesting (yet complicated) story but...there is tooo much glitchs to play it correctly. After a while it become so frustrating being unable to move on and open the different places, just because it isn't working the way it should. And of course no answer from the staff about that.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Positive Vibes
( 3.0 hrs on record )
Posted: April 17
Wasn't that into it. 9/15
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Enix
( 11.0 hrs on record )
Posted: March 27
Ether One is a narrative and explorative puzzle experience. Immerse yourself into the mind of another person and find out about their long-lost past, solve their history and help them overcome a chronic dementia.

Design & Art
While using the Unreal Engine 3 (Redux Version uses 4), the art style is kept fairly simplistic, while still looking unique and refreshing. Ether One's visual style is comparable to "The Long Dark", since both games' textures essentially seem very similar with their cell-shading look. Ether One mostly shines, when you do not take a closer look into its art detail. Nothing really looks odd or bad yet visuals are noteworthy and interesting, because of their unique appearance. Overall, for a game in this genre, which mostly focuses on its storytelling (next to "MIND: Path to Thalamus"), graphics are okay.

Controls
You can choose to control the game by standard keyboard & mouse or fully fledged controller support. Ether One delivers tooltips on how to play itself but most of the time, you will use standard first person shooter controls. I cannot rate controller support and key bindings, since I do not own one.

Sound and Music
Soundtrack of the game reeled me in: Very emotional and fitting for its genre. My favorite piece played near the start and is called "Total Relapse". Although the musical backdrop sounds mostly shallow and eerie, I can hear that it was created with utmost love and care, being a musical creator and lover myself. Absolutely magnificent and gorgeous soundtrack created by Nathaniel-Jorden Apostol! Give this man a medal!

That goes for sounds and voiceacting as well. At no time did the game disappoint me by its auditory design and I can remember a great trailer score to be most of my conviction to buy this game. Voiceacting is done nicely, the actors took care in displaying realistic emotions. Some text passages sound odd in their choice of words, yet everything is within the smaller bounds of a well done voicecasting. Awesome!

Gameplay
Ether One features a relatively well done level design with multiple areas. You are a "Restorer", a person sent into another persons mind to restore specific memories within their mind, that have been lost due to dementia.

You can restore said memories by collecting objects within a level. Next to that, there are certain side objectives you can complete (like restoring film projectors, who offer a deeper look into the whole operation and therapy process of the person in whose mind you are currently in). You complete a level by accessing core memories and hereby accessing mysteries of the past. Various and well hidden clues and sometimes baffling puzzles need to be solved to complete these side missions. In reward, you will uncover more about the backstory. You can always come back to areas you already visited, in case you want to try figuring out that last clue you never got.

During your travel through the mind, you will encounter multiple objects of interest, which you can store within your "case", a secluded area within the mind of the person, that you can always resort to, to go over crucial hints or review interesting plot details. Everything is tied to one location, so no objects from other locations are needed to solve a puzzle in another area, especially if you use your storage often. Choose wisely!

The story is well written, cohesive and emotionally engaging; never did I lose interest or intentionally skipped parts because I knew what was going to happen. But I felt a little disappointed at the ending, maybe that is not because the writing disappointed me, guess I was just sad that the game was over. Feels were felt and need to be felt.

Weakpoints
Now here is the crux of the matter. As much as I admire the gameplay of Ether One, I also hate it for some of its parts. Solving some puzzles involves running and walking around. A LOT of tedious walking back and forth, since the levels tend to get bigger. Finding crucial objects you left behind on particular locations can be a thorn in your side, even more if only one instance of said object exists. You need to go back the entire way to pick up the object. I do not know if I am too stupid to figure this out, but I thought you can teleport yourself from the "case" to any area within the mind, but that does not seem to be the case; It only teleports you to your last location you teleported to the case from. This is enervating and should have been done differently and easier.

Gamebreaking bugs still seem to exist after a batch of patches. At some point, I needed to consult a walkthrough, because I couldn't figure out what to do. I did EXACTLY what the walkthrough told me to do and STILL nothing happened, which led to desperation quickly. This happened MULTIPLE times and was really irritating for me.

The achievements for the Redux Version of the game do not work for me at this time. And speaking of the Redux Version: It is a complete port of Ether One into the Unreal
Engine 4 (UE4) and nothing more. You get it for free, which is a nice feature I guess, but I cannot see the value of this port.
I actually hate the UE4, because most of the games I play which get imported from the UE3 look worse and run worse on my machine than before (the same happening for MIND: Path to Thalamus in my case).

In my opinion, most of the puzzles were really tricky and challenging, some really felt absolutely unsolvable for my tastes. Maybe I get frustrated too soon and give up easily, but the some of the bugs I mentioned above really gave me a hard time. Overall, the difficulty of the puzzles is above average and needs some serious wits. A fair warning for everyone.

Concluding Thoughts
Ether One is a narrative puzzle experience with several explorative aspects.

For what its worth, the game takes itself extremely serious to plunge you into an interesting plot and engages your gray matter. A game that revolves entirely around dementia, the changes, daily challenges and emotions that come with it all seem really well executed and realistic, even if some of the puzzles seemed way too hard for me. The game feels mature in its theme and actually seems to be directed to mature audiences. Dealing with loss, in any shape or form, is something we all have to deal with at least one time in our life. And Ether One delivers a beautifully, above-average experience of everything that comes with it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
elleody
( 21.2 hrs on record )
Posted: March 15
Months later, the imagery of bright crimson ribbons sitting on posts, starkly contrasted to the small mining oceanfront village, still sits at the forefront of my mind. The minutia, the lore, the style- still sticks with me, a handful of games later.

I'm fond of this one, I would recommend it. I sat with my thoughts on it for a while, since I had not determined whether or not I felt it worth recommending. Despite the potent, vivid, beautiful imagery, we're left with a story, that I did not find satisfying at first. The framework, the conceits, the guises, are simply excessive for the story they want to tell.

this game is like an elegant tapestry, with many frayed strings, obscuring the main image. If you can look through them, the plot holes, the obtuse leaps of logic, the over the top ending- it's simply put. beautiful.

And, months later- I figure it worthwhile, to leave it a positive review. Since that's what I took with me, the beauty in such darkness.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Bob
( 2.7 hrs on record )
Posted: March 13
Buying this game gives you two versions, the original and a rebuilt redux version; I played the redux version so all opinions expressed here are based on that version.

I bought this game months ago in the sale and by the time I came to play it I had completely forgotten everything about it so I started playing it with absolutely no idea what to expect. This is an excellent way to appreciate the narrative; throughout the game you find notes and audio clips by exploring and solving puzzles which allow you to gradually piece together the story.

The levels are quite large and intricate. The visuals are pretty good and the voice acting is excellent. The exploration part of the game is great and some of the puzzles are great however many of the puzzles are overly obscure. But overall I am still giving this a thumbs up as the story more than makes up for having to look up a walk through for the difficult bits.

I did encounter a number of bugs whilst playing. None of them were significant but I am going to list in detail as the developers seem very engaged on the community hub and responsive to feedback.

- The game switches to Polish every couple of times I launch the game.
- The texture detail reverts back to medium every time I launch the game. This is particularly infuriating as one of the puzzles near the start of the game requires you to read a number off the back of a plate but the number is not visible at medium texture detail.
- Most of the achievements don't work.
- The trading cards only drop when playing the original version not the redux version
- The miner's vigil projector wouldn't trigger after lighing the correct number of candles.
- The piano won't play for the church projector, This is possibly because I saved my game whilst the tuning animation was running.
- After triggering the plaque in Pinwheel village, I was stuck in the room with the red chair by the fire. I had to go back to the cage and travel to a different area and after that I was unable to jump.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
8.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 26
Sometimes one should simply meditate on an experience, for sometimes to explicate is to belittle. When a game is shallow in its presentation, in the various mediums that inhabit a game, there should be no such worry. But a game can sometimes transcend what language can delimit and truly calcify itself as something, as a life-experience. Ether One is a game like that. “Life-experience” is an equivocal term, I suppose. It can be thought of in the Husserlian sense of being a lifeworld (lebenswelt), an experience through the faculties of the body, and as such an Umwelt (vaguely translates to “surrounding world”). And can be seen as the insightful nature of a learning experience. Experience in the sense of wisdom, or knowledge. With that being said, Ether One becomes a twofold experience. On the one hand it is fleshed out in its world building, the player inhabits a physical world, a consistently built world. On the other, we, as players, inhabit a conceptual/metaphorical world. We are experiencing a true fact of the world through analogy, and visual representation of a physical dilemma. It in a way elucidates the split between the behavioral experience of intention and the supposedly immanent but silent world of bodily interactions; a world of pure experience.

These notions are hinted at in the game, and make for a unique world physically, and likewise a uniquely conceptual experience. A unique insight into one aspect of human possibility, especially human beings as they experience their pathological self.

It was with these realizations I found myself in an unusually touching experience. I have come across many games that attempts to deal with heavy topics, but rarely do they reach my humanity, or show any humanity on their own end. Ether One, however, managed express something uniquely human. It almost perfectly delineated the confusion and tragedy of experiencing your own path, perhaps especially the world's path, towards oblivion. I would liken it to a conscious experience of death. Nothing in the world sounds more horrifying. But it is that experience wherein we swirl around as we play Ether One, I believe that is what it – in its core – is trying to put forth.

And that is what constitutes the ache; the desperation of wanting to find out more when side-puzzles are offered to you that give you a small appendage that might prolong the inevitable for a moment longer. If only to have an emotional connection to an item, if only for a strip of light against eternal darkness, you fight and you ache to cling onto that something, the something of tangibility; the something of sensual collisions.

To explain the fleshed out nature of this game, and its brilliant presentation is not an easy matter. It comes with playing, and feeling the impact of everything, hearing the sounds of each step on the different surfaces, of the fading sounds of memories going in and out with differing correspondence to a spatio-physical node. The point being that it feels like a lived in world, like an inhabitable place simply due to the lushness of sounds and objects. Interconnectivity is vital in this regard. There is an interconnectivity of the world itself, the levels as such, along with an interconnectivity of the puzzles and an over all cohesive narrative. It is by virtue of this threefold cohesion of gameplay, world-building and story and their fantastic interplay that makes the atmosphere of Ether One so personable and conducive to lived-experience, and that is personally what adds to its emotional impact; its closeness and solidifying of subjective-experience as actual in this particular game. At moments you are holistically immersed into this world and its stories; and that statement carries weight that cannot be applied to many games.

Moreover, I think the small town setting adds to this homely feeling as well. It's a tight knit community you're reminiscing about, where the economical strife becomes that of everyone's, the family death of the other becomes your own, and so on. There's a strong positive valence in regards to the elements that make up this game. On top of the setting, there is the music that adds to this atmosphere of sentimentality and closeness. The music you play when you interact with the different instruments are jazz-inspired and soft – homely – while the background music is often somber and melancholy, sometimes with a saliently horrifying touch that adds an uneasiness to the experience in the vein of Gone Home. A lot of similarities can be discussed between the two games, but I feel Ether One elevates each aspect of Gone Home in sheer complexity and scope. While Gone Home is confined to a
house, Ether One sans out over a small town, hence making certain oversight acceptable, such as not as much of a fleshed out interactivity with everyday items and their variance.

Personally I much preferred the maturity of this game, its meditation on a truly scary prospect and its ability to visualize this into both narrative and environment. This is a brave game, with one of the most tragic and truthful, thus satisfying, endings I have ever played through that adds to the experience as a whole and what it in each step tries to accomplish. Precisely this makes the game feel thoroughly thought through, and executed according to a proper plan. There are few, if not no, discrepancies or discordant moments, nothing to break immersion or thought-processes that may arise while you're trying to figure out the somewhat circuitous narrative. It's a terribly pleasant experience with a great emphasis on exploration and memory, something that is seemingly simple, but that I imagine would confound most players more often than not (I could easily be wrong in this, ultimately this is a game that transcends its gameplay, rendering that possibility irrelevant).

A final thing that solidifies this game as worthy of time and money spent is the writing. Many games that stray into the more emotional side of storytelling tend to be a bit too mawkish or immature in its expression for its own good. The same goes for voice acting, generally. This game avoids both of those possible downfalls, and lands itself somewhere on the scale of fantastic. Both the writing in its vocalized and written form has a wonderful flow and naturalistic feel to it. It's free from clumsiness or cliché, or arbitrarily obscure poetic language without context. It is very effective and clear, while managing to avoid inane simplicity.

Ether One deserves manifold appreciation for its accomplishments, for each of its elements and how they come together beautifully to create a thing of genuine human expression. A fact of some uniqueness, both in this genre and industry.

Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 27
Ether One is probably the most subjective game I have ever played due to its story and game design choices. I would recommend taking each review with a grain of salt (like most reviews) and make the choice for yourself.

I've reviewed a lot of games and I generally have a clear vision of whether or not I would recommend them - but none have baffled me as much as Ether One. What's odd about Ether One is that it's obvious that a lot of love and devotion went into its craft. But while the love is clearly there, the execution (at least for me) is not.

Cricisms:

Ether One is completely story driven and you have the option to play the game in one of two ways:

1) Simply walk through each area, find the main points of interest, and move on with the story - or
2) Solve side puzzles which give more insight and provide additional context to the world and plot

To give the puzzles more context - the puzzles, for the most part, are not obvious and tend to be obscure. Some puzzles cannot be solved immediately and you must wait until you find another area or more information in later parts of the game and then return to finish the puzzle. Overall, the puzzles are NOT easy and sometimes don't make a whole lot of sense.

And herein lies the problem. I know stories are subjective to each individual, but I personally did not find the main story plot interesting - or at minimum, I did not find it engaging - which leads into the next section.

Remember, the puzzles are optional - you do not have to complete a single puzzle to finish this game (minus 1 puzzle in the opening act). Since I was not forced to complete any puzzles I felt less invested in the story. I think completing puzzles gets the player more invested and engaged. Allowing the player to simply bypass the puzzles does not create an interactive experience. If the player isn't engaged, then it's possible the player may find the story less engaging as well.

If I wanted to discover more about the plot, I could go out and complete some of the side puzzles in order to learn more. But that's the problem. If the main story doesn't draw you in, then why would you go out and solve side puzzles? You simply wouldn't. I would have enjoyed Ether One more if the puzzles were woven into the gameplay (like in the very first area you are forced to solve a few puzzles - why wasn't that continued at least a few more times?)

Verdict:

I think Ether One can be an emotionally rewarding game. Solving the difficult puzzles and learning more about the characters and their past is definitely a solid feeling.

Like I said in the beginning - it's obvious the developers put a lot of craft and love into Ether One. There are many reviews saying just how well thought out and beautiful Ether One's story is. I personally couldn't get into the story and therefore I had no interest in solving the puzzles. I wish the puzzles were more integrated rather than being completely optional. For this reason, while Ether One is certainly a well written and thought out game, the execution just seems awkward - and for that reason I can't recommend it.

Without doing the puzzles Ether One is rather short - about 3-4 hours to complete. Obviously if you are completing the puzzles the hours will vary beyond that.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
66 of 72 people (92%) found this review helpful
Recommended
11.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 15, 2014
9/10

+ very nice presentation, art is awesome, runs great on max settings
+ nice music, good voice acting
+ point and click adventure game with some very hard puzzles, that are not essentially needed to proceed, meaning you can just explore the environment and complete the story without solving almost any puzzle. this is NOT recommendded - the puzzles are extremely well designed, they are mostly about reconstructing a memory by reading and finding relevant items, cracking safes etc. - great idea about moving between the 2 worlds of the game and storing items or reading the important documents you found so far
+ complex story, emotional at times , with some horror elements, very interesting though you will want to see what happens
+ controls and gameplay mechanics flawless
+ good duration, replayability (as it is very hard to complete it the first time by solving everything)

- playing for the first time you might not understand exactly what you have to do or how to solve the puzzles, if you have the patience to proceed a bit you will be rewarded though - it could be a bit more beginner friendly
- sometimes finding items needed to solve puzzles is frustrating, they might be far away from the scene or even in a totally different location (item or hint)

one of my favorites adventures of the year, very professional work, highly recommended to those who like adventure and puzzle games in general with a good story

hint: don't forget to hold left mouse button on an object (that you can get) to read its description/name, this is vital for some puzzles
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73 of 84 people (87%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 25, 2014
Stunning visuals, incredible audio and a genuinely moving narrative

Whether you play only for the main plot, ignoring the games many puzzles, or you take it slow and uncover all the mysteries Pin Wheel has hidden behind its spooky and unsettling atmosphere, Ether One will impress.

An independent studio boasting a triple A quality game, highly, highly recommend.
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60 of 67 people (90%) found this review helpful
Recommended
56.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 3, 2014
I just finished Ether One. It's a brilliant game with an exceptional story. It reminds me of the Adventure games of yore where it is best to take notes, make maps, draw diagrams and exam everything. I took my time and I worked on a section at a time trying to complete it before moving on. The puzzles can be challenging, but your note taking efforts will greatly help. This also comes in mighty helpful when it is necessary to go back into an area. These efforts will help to complete the game as it should be completed and the rewards for doing so are three-fold. The story is in-depth with a lot of substance. It's also a teaching experience. I finished with tears in my eyes, a filled heart and a mind enveloped in wonderment. This is, by far, one of the best games i have ever played. Outstanding !!
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140 of 191 people (73%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 21, 2014
http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_656882913&feature=iv&index=3&list=PLBqXrq67D6oqHjOXJ2jp90P__1DS2kbtO&src_vid=rt0yfIvDEvk&v=6glTHczG4p4

I now write this review as I finished the game (main story). Gotta say: mind blowing. Without trying to spoil anything, let's just say the game puts you on somebody's shoes living a terrifying experience, one impossible to picture, unless it actually happens in your life at some point (hope not). It's an indie game delivering completely different experiences, the ones you don't find in most AAA games. Great adventure.
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68 of 89 people (76%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
10.1 hrs on record
Posted: September 4, 2015
Did you ever have somebody tell you about a movie they saw or a book that they read, saying it had so much depth and was so thought-provoking that you knew it must be worth a look. But when you did, you saw none of what this person described? That's Ether One.

This is going to be a spoiler free review, largely because there isn't much to spoil so it is easy to avoid.

When you start the game, there is a great deal of promise. Presentation is good and the pacing is decent. Voice actors are good. The art-style is interesting and the environments well designed.

But it doesn't take long before you find yourself in a game where you find yourself casually walking through the clearly marked core of the story but completely unaware of side-quests which make up the bulk of the content. When you start to understand that mundane objects have a larger significance you turn into a kleptomaniac, expecting to encounter some truely ingenius puzzles which remind you of games like Resident Evil or Myst, but suddenly discover that the developers have hidden the puzzles so well that half the time you're walking past them or completely clueless about where to start. So you start poking everything randomly to see if anything happens. Not to mention that much of what you've been collecting doesn't actually have a use at all. It's like buying one of those Lego kits and then discovering you have loads of bricks left over and actually feeling like somebody intended to use them for something but never did.

Ether One pitches itself as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. What you get is a short-story which starts off being subtle, then gets bored and screams all its secrets at you part way through the story resulting in an anticlimactic and utterly unsatisfying ending which you unfortunately saw coming if you were paying any attention to the many blatent clues peppered throughout the game. I get the impression that the developers had all these ideas in their heads but didn't really understand how to deliver them. So to ensure players didn't miss the point they painted the 'clues' in neon pink, wrote them in capitals and also attached sirens and bells to make sure you saw them.

For a game intended to convey how confusing dimentia is for a sufferer of the condition, the developers have clearly gotten too close to their source material. Because the game itself ended up being as incoherant and haphazard as the memories of a typical dimentia patient. I actually worry that they intended to make the game like this on purpose and completely forgot that it was still meant to be about having fun.

I really cannot recommend that anyone hands over money for something like this. If you want to have a game like this I'd actually recommend Master Reboot.
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187 of 281 people (67%) found this review helpful
9 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: April 3, 2015
While I appreciate the originality of the idea and theme, the execution of the gameplay falls flat. Simply put, it's boring. And when it's not boring, it's just frustrating, two qualities that will ruin a game every time. Why do I play games? For fun. This game misses that mark by a longshot. The voice acting is good. There is not much else I can say that is positive.

Despite the use of Unreal Engine, the rendering is cartoonish, stylized and outlined as if it were hand drawn. I understand if this was a creative decision, but it's a shameful waste of Unreal Engine's potential. Texture resolution is extremely low, even on max settings. Regardless of this, performance is not great, indicating shoddy construction and poor use of the engine's resources.

It is never clear what can be interacted with and what can't be, and the interact mechanic often doesn't work, so you end up clicking on something multiple times before discovering if it's static or not. Solutions to puzzles are arbitrary, counter-intuitive and make no contextual sense, so that it becomes a random guessing game with a lot of back and forth expirementing. It has that old-school Hidden Object Game feel to it, where you end up trying every possible combination with everything in your inventory. Except you don't have an inventory. You can only carry one item at a time, while other items you have collected are stored in a seperate location that requires a loading screen upon entry and exit. Why they thought it was a good idea to exchange an inventory for a stash room that requires a double loading screen for the retrieval of each individual item, I do not know. But tedious is an understatement.

If the point of the game was to get you to feel the frustration of memory loss and dementia, then it succeeds. It could have more appropriately expressed itself with logic and memory puzzles. The mind is a use-it-or-lose-it faculty, so a game designed to exercise it, while addressing the issue in the story, may have been the admirable goal of the developers. They over-reached, and fell miserably short.

Worst of all, achievements that I earned did not unlock for me. That was the final straw that prompted me to write my first ever Not Recommended review. For the price, there are many more far superior games to choose from.
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45 of 54 people (83%) found this review helpful
15 people found this review funny
Recommended
19.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 12, 2015
In this game, you play as a professional puzzle solver, who has travelled to a curious village to help a bunch of helpless villagers who have all conveniently lost the fourth slider wheel from their combination safes, broken all of their projectors, and rearranged their homes and workplaces into Myst-like puzzles. The game does a good job of capturing that classic Myst feeling of wandering around an expansive puzzle-filled area for 20 minutes, flipping a lever to test it out, flipping it back after wondering whether or not you were actually supposed to flip it yet or not, and then exploring for 20 more minutes until everything finally starts to come together.

The only problem is the strange inventory system, in which instead of having a typical inventory system, you can only carry one item at a time, and have to warp back to your "Case" (which acts as a hub between the different maps) and place items on the various shelves in the main room to store them. It's not as inconvenient as it sounds since the transition between the map and the case is mostly seamless and the shelves are right beside where you arrive in the Case, but it's also somewhat glitchy - at one point early on, one of the safe wheels found in the Case itself vanished after I put it on a shelf and went back to the map, and it never came back. It was presumably a spare wheel since I was able to fully complete the game without it, but if it were to happen to someone else to a more important item it could be game-breaking. But the inventory system also lends towards the "fun confusion" factor of the game, because since a somewhat large amount of items can be picked up and stored in the game you're never as sure whether you need to use a particular item as you would be in a game where you only had three items in your inventory. This was particularly relevant in my case, since on two separate occasions the instructor gave me a friendly reminder that I could store items after picking up an item, and in both cases, that item was a bottle of alchohol. This led me to believe that the bottles might end up somehow being important, and it wasn't until the credits began to roll that I realized that there was no great alcohol puzzle, and I didn't actually need a shelf full of 30 bottles of the village's finest cider for anything other than a good time.

Overall, if you like puzzle games, especially exploration-based ones, this is a pretty easy recommendation. The story is great, and the puzzles are challenging. It's worth noting that while almost all of the real puzzles are optional and completing them only fleshes out the backstory, you won't really get a good experience if you just wander around collecting the ribbons that are the only thing completely necessary to finish the game, but if you're looking for a reasonably challenging puzzle game then this is a great choice.
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40 of 47 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
10.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 27, 2015
It's not easy to properly comprehend the effect debilitating diseases have on people until you experience their effect yourself. It's easy to see them as terrible but improbable occurrences, something that clearly happens but is impossible to envision yourself suffering from. And yet, dementia scares the hell out of me. The idea that there's this invisible force that has no cure, no prevention, that will almost certainly affect you at some point in your life and only becomes more likely the longer you live somehow feels so much more real to me than cancer, or ebola, or any other life threatening disease that I could come in contact with.

Perhaps that's due partly to how much dementia affects not only yourself, but the people around you. Watching your grandparents forget you along with themselves is a cold shock to reality that puts things into startling focus the way statistics and symptom lists never could. And it's the inescapable nature of something you can't predict or counteract that makes it difficult to just push the thought out of your mind that one day you might wake up and have forgotten who you are.

Ether One isn't really about a hypothetical cure for dementia, or the life of someone finding slowly losing themselves to it. To me at least, it's about giving that human perspective to something in all likelihood we will all go through. Inhabiting the memories of someone undergoing experimental treatment, you travel through their life learning the events that shaped them and then watching them fall away as the disease takes hold and they struggle to hang onto even the moments most important to them.

It's depressing but not in a way that makes you sad, so much as it causes you to feel empathetic as you watch a character you've become emotionally invested with have everything taken away from them. Reading through personal letters, town events, job descriptions, and fidgeting with character belongings, you get to know these characters to even their most mundane and ordinary level. Life is often unfair, but Ether One captures the sense of uncontrollable tragedy and desperate attempts at resolution that's almost painful to see because it's so understandable.

Ether One has built a world so close to our own, but given it a purpose and a life that makes every scrap of paper and ordinary item feel meaningful. I wanted to know more about these characters, to pry into their emotions and personal thoughts to try and understand what they were going through, and Ether One allows you to do this in a way that doesn't feel intrusive or emotionally manipulative. You're trying to help your character remember who they are; trying to put things back together in a desperate hope to save their memories, and prove the procedure a success so nobody will have to go through something so destructive

Ether One's only real problem is that it tries harder than it probably needs to to be a more traditional game than first-person exploration games are often considered, and ends up making it incredibly hard to see most of its content that it hides behind obtuse puzzles and logic that's often difficult to understand. There are a lot of objects you can interact with, but just enough which you can't that it's often incredibly difficult to know which items are for solving puzzles and which have been included just as a means of world building. My solution to this was to attempt to scavenge everything I could pick up, but that makes for an extremely cluttered and impractical playstyle that still often left me clueless when it came to solving an actual puzzle.

I say puzzle, but the projectors you need to reassemble in Ether One were often more comprehension barriers than logical conundrums. I was at such a loss as to know even where to start that even with the answer typically staring me in the face it was near impossible for me to solve anything without the help of a guide. In a lot of ways it feels very much like the sort of obtuse puzzles found in a lot of old adventure games, an I imagine people missing those games will feel right at home, but in my case I was more frustrated at trying to parse an endless stream of relevant and irrelevant information than I was satisfied by actually managing to solve one.

And it's a shame because it makes it extremely easy to miss huge swaths of content for those less inclined to sit and ponder solutions or look them up online, content which gave a larger context to the story that I feel is important anyone playing the game experience. Were it any other game I'd have likely given up and just skipped to the end, but Ether One deserves more than that. I felt like I owed it to the game to see all it had to show me, no matter how trivial it might be because even meaningless documents and items could eventually serve some significance.

Ether One certainly hasn't dissolved my fears of dementia, but it definitely helped show me that I could be doing more for those affected by it instead of turning away because I'd rather not deal with the emotional trauma of someone you have to reintroduce yourself to every meeting. What that might be I'm not entirely sure of yet, but I feel Ether One is important for even daring bring these ideas up, and I hope they won't be lost on others who play it.

You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal.
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