Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 24/09/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Don’t Judge A Game By Its Story…?
When Embracelet popped up in our games list, I immediately fell in love with the art style. Reminiscent of the design in Untitled Goose Game, the low-poly art looked utterly charming. There was something about the characters with their beady eyes and little mouths that captured my heart.
However, I thought the story sounded a little cheesy. I’m all for magic and fantasy, but a bracelet with magical powers? I thought it was perhaps a little childish. But as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover, as I soon found out I was wrong!
Embrace Your Emotions
In Embracelet, you play as Jesper, a teen from a Norwegian city struggling with school. When his grandfather confides in him about a magical bracelet and his hometown, Slepp, Jesper is urged to visit. Eventually, Jesper’s mother lets him go. Will he discover the origins of the bracelet and why his grandfather left in such a hurry?
No spoilers here, but what I can say is that the story is so much more than I was expecting! It’s heartwarming, it’s emotional and it’s surprising. It explores family, friendships, urban vs rural life, poverty and even climate change. The discussion around climate change was definitely not something I expected, and it’s a very important topic to highlight.
Admittedly, there were moments which could be quite cheesy. Jesper is infamous for his puns, and him and his newfound friends being teenagers means they’re still finding their feet. However it all adds to the charm and coming-of-age aspect of the game!
Controlling the Bracelet
To go with the wholesome, light hearted feel of the story, the controls and puzzle solving are easy going too. You mostly have to walk around the island and interact with people. Using the bracelet to solve problems is straight forward, having to press a button when two rings align. The bracelet could blast objects, lift things, interact with machinery and much more. Having these relaxed puzzles gives you time to focus on unravelling the story.
What does put a little pressure on is making choices. Though they don’t affect the story, my empathetic self felt awful when I’d upset someone. This meant I was as honest as I could be and a bit of a goody two shoes! For example, your two friends both have feelings for you. Their dialogue and personalities make them really developed characters, and having to choose who you return your feelings to made me feel so bad! (It was also nice being able to choose between a boy and a girl, or neither if you wanted to.)
But overall, Embracelet is a very relaxed game; some may not like the easy puzzles or it being narrative orientated, but I loved this whole vibe. It really immersed me as I wasn’t stuck for ages on a puzzle therefore breaking up the story.
The Sights of Norway
Having such a rural environment made for stunning scenes of a secluded Norwegian island, with mountains, forests and the ocean. All these natural colours were muted and pleasing to the eye, but colourful too. The lighting was equally gorgeous, and the sunsets were a dream to look at. They are so many magical moments that are best left for you to experience yourself!
The island was fairly sizeable, but you did end up passing through the same areas quite often. However, having such a beautiful setting made it a joy to wander around. The soundtrack fit perfectly, whimsical as you trek through the quiet village but intense as you land in a spot of trouble. There was a hint of melancholy when covering deeper topics, which stirred my emotions a lot more.
The camera mechanic was also a really interesting part of Embracelet. It changed so that Jesper was walking off into the distance, a tiny ant amongst the vast mountains. Or, as you went around the side of the house for example, it would switch automatically to see what was previously obscured from view. It could be a little confusing at times, as it would alter the direction you were walking in too. Overall though, it went hand in hand with the incredible cinematography of the cutscenes.
Returning to Slepp
Playing through Embracelet felt just as engaging as a film with the way it focused on characters and a cinematic style. But is it one you want to watch again? In terms of revisiting the main story, you already know the twists and turns, and have spoken to everyone to uncover the mystery.
But, once completing the game, there is a new game + save. This means you can return to just before the ending, and finish any side objectives. I was really thankful for this, because I thought I’d missed on the opportunity to do these tasks! I’m not sure whether they have any impact on the story, but it’s a good excuse to return to the game and spend just a little more time in the sleepy fishing community.
For £9.99, Embracelet is such a steal and proves that simplicity does not mean a lack of quality. It could be completed in a couple of hours, but in those hours I was wrapped in this heart warming story that I found hard to leave. I was drawn to the characters and their problems, and could almost feel the sea breeze in this gorgeous setting. What’s even more impressive is that it was created by a one man developer!
With a truly unique experience and a gripping, magical tale, this is one to add to your wishlist.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Embracelet for the Nintendo Switch at the following link: Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.