Review: Ethan: Meteor Hunter
Ethan: Meteor Hunter feels like a labour of love. From the quaint themes and graphics to the almost rudimentary cut scenes, there is plenty of evidence to show that a large amount of care and attention has been put into it. Unfortunately, all the love is the world doesn’t necessarily make a good game and Ethan: Meteor Hunter feels a bit flat and average at the best of times, even whilst it attempts to throw in a few new ideas that haven’t really been seen in the genre for a while.
Ethan couldn’t be simpler in terms of game mechanics and storyline. A meteor hits the world that Ethan inhabits, who is a mouse by the way, with Ethan getting a good whack on the head as well. Rather than completely flattening the poor guy, Ethan manages to gain telekinesis powers, as you do, and decides that he wants to collect as many pieces of the meteorite as possible.
What follows is standard platforming fare with a slight twist; Ethan’s new ability allows him to stop time as well as move objects as will. This does add a new dimension to what is essentially a distinctively average running and jumping game. By stopping time, you are able to move certain objects within the nearby area to allow yourself to traverse safely. It’s relatively innovative and can be satisfying when you manage to time your jump perfectly and land on a platform that you created yourself. There would have been real scope to allow Ethan: Meteor Hunter to become a front runner in the genre with this ability. Unfortunately any use of the stopping time/telekinesis powers is so heavily prescribed, both are only available after you have collected a token which is always conveniently just before they become useful, that there’s just no freedom to make use of it.
Joys like this are few and far between though as the whole game melds into a bit of a bland mess. Environments look painfully similar after a few short levels and scenarios differ wildly. Jumping doesn’t tend to feel particularly tight and the fact that the developers built in the ability to transport straight back to the last checkpoint you passed because certain areas you accidentally end up in are impossible to get out of seems like a poor fail safe. A lack of a double jump also feels backwards, alongside wall slides, a sprint button and other such mainstays of the 2D platformers; Ethan feels irritatingly archaic at times especially when it can’t seem to the most of the basics correct. The whole process becomes more of a trial in endurance rather than a tool for fun. There are challenges for you to complete but expectations are almost unrealistically high. At least in terms of games such as Xplosion Man and Super Meat Boy, the characters had personality even if the storyline never had anything to do with, well, anything; Ethan is plainly dull.
To sum up
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Ethan but there’s nothing particularly good about it either. Although it tries a few new ideas here and there, it’s mostly a generic platformer that offers a heck of a lot of the same followed by even more of the same; rather average.
Version reviewed: PC