Hello! My name is Kenny, and I had the fantastic opportunity to review Glyph as part of its release! The game is great and plays like a love letter to platforming games, so I hope you consider checking it out.
Glyph is a colorful and atmospheric open-world 3D platformer that challenges your skill and precision while rewarding gradual mastery of the mechanics. The game comes wrapped in charming environments and an enchanting hub world that motivates you to keep discovering more!
In the game, you have to jump, double jump, bounce, glide, and tumble a scarab through 80+ levels, beating enemies and solving puzzles, in order to restore the ancient Temple City.
When I first played through Glyph, it felt reminiscent of playing through Mario or Spyro as a kid. There’s a level of innocent wonder that comes from a well-designed environment in a platforming game that is difficult to replicate in other genres. Jumping from place to place, exploring environments, and getting little story snippets in each individual area made the world mysterious and intriguing and fun to interact with. And the collectibles made it very easy to measure how much of a level I had seen. It was a childlike wonder sort of experience, and I loved every second of it… mostly. Except for about a day and a half after I encountered the slanted surfaces that were the bane of my little scarab’s existence. But then I learned how to use those surfaces to keep my momentum going, and my enjoyment returned even stronger than before. And that is the core of the game experience in Glyph: learning how to use new environmental challenges as a skill-based tool for doing cooler airborne stunts.
In Glyph, you play a tiny robot beetle called Anobi. You are a remnant of a long-dead civilization who is responsible for repairing and purifying a long sunken temple that was slowly consumed by corrupted, evil desert sands. You go through different worlds designed to test your platforming skills while collecting coins, artifacts, and gems needed to reclaim the lost areas of the temple and access new levels. You must avoid the lethal sands as you go through gradually harder and harder levels. As more areas are reclaimed, you gain access to more worlds to play in, with over a hundred separate worlds and timed trials to experience.
The game starts with a tutorial that, while skippable, does a really wonderful job of explaining the basic mechanics of the game. What is uniquely interesting about Glyph is that no new mechanics are introduced in terms of player abilities – what you learn in the tutorial is what you have for the duration of the game. The levels introduce new situations and challenges, such as sinking platforms, moving terrain, and the dreaded slanted surfaces, but the basic controls remain the same throughout.
This works well for Glyph because it means you can feel yourself getting better at the game. Where in the tutorial and beginning levels, I found myself cautiously bouncing from one platform to another, stopping, and preparing for the next jump, in later levels I was gliding across wide-open expanses, launching myself back into the air at Mach 10 speed, and jumping off of vertical surfaces with ease. The game feels rewarding because you, the player, learn how to use your abilities in tandem to conquer more and more challenging situations. You can feel yourself mastering the game. The controls are intuitive enough to never get in the way and to make you feel unstoppable as you learn to use them together.
The game has a very whimsical sound to it. From the metallic “ting” when you bounce and regain your jump, to the low background music that sets the tone for each level, to the buzz when you begin to fly… the sound does just enough to enhance the experience without making itself overly noticeable. In several instances, the sound effects that accompany various mechanics help with the gameplay, and by the end of my review playthrough, I found myself timing my jumps to when I would hear that “ting”, and learning exactly when to activate my double jump after using my glide based off how long the buzz had been going.
The graphics are also cleverly designed. At first glance, the game has a very minimalist feel to the graphic design, but this isn’t the case. Color schemes are meaningful and tell you everything you need to know at a glance. Glowing blue surfaces are good and give you a double jump charge. Glowing red surfaces are bad, and kill you if you touch them. Sand is dull tan and cannot be touched, but no other surface shares that color, so that color becomes etched in your mind as a dangerous area to avoid, much like the glowing red. Anobi glows with different colors, orange for one jump, blue for two, letting you know what charge you’ve gained. And the different Anobi skins that can be unlocked are every bit as intuitive and whimsical as the base skin.
Glyph is a seamlessly crafted game. Everything you hear and see on the screen tells you something useful in the most unintrusive way possible, and this makes the game very easy to interpret. This is crucial because sometimes the only difference between success and failure is knowing immediately whether or not you still have your double jump left in the middle of a 100 mile per hour leap through the air.
There are very few actual mechanics in the game. You can jump when you have an orange charge. You can double jump when you have a blue charge. Hitting any surface gives you back your orange charge while hitting a glowing blue surface gives you your blue charge as well. You can glide through the air once per jump, after which you must hit a surface to regain the glide ability. Finally, you can stop all movement immediately and pound directly down to the ground, to the location shown by the shadow under you.
That’s it. That’s all the mechanics you have control of as the player. It sounds simple. But in practice, there’s so much more to it. Momentum is conserved between jumps. The glide can be used to redirect you in midair while giving your jump more distance. Slamming directly down onto one of the dreaded slanted surfaces inevitably kills you by launching you sideways into the sand, while slamming into a bouncy surface bounces you back up at even greater heights. You can climb vertical surfaces by repeatedly jumping and bumping back into the surface. Mastery feels good because the same basic mechanics interact with the physics engine of the game and the clever level designs to make you feel like an acrobatic genius.
While there are enemy creatures, they function less as combat encounters and more as a different aspect of platforming. Some enemies blast you horizontally in a direction, which can either launch you into the sand or up a slanted wall far into the air without using a jump charge, giving you massive additional range on a jump. There are several types of enemies, but the same color code rules apply, meaning you know immediately what the enemy does and what to pay attention to.
Overall, I had a blast playing Glyph. Failing never felt bad because I could sense that I was the one doing something wrong, and succeeding at a challenge I was struggling with was immensely rewarding. Glyph’s world has so much charm that each new level unlocked brings fresh excitement, while returning to the hub world feels like a return to a serene sanctuary to collect yourself. It’s a beautiful and masterfully crafted game, and I cannot recommend it enough.
If you’re on the fence, Bolverk Games has released a demo of Glyph to showcase the gameplay style, and it does a good job of showing you what to expect from the full game. I hope you give it a try, and support a really great game.