- Genre: Adventure, Indie
- Platforms: Steam, Nintendo Switch
- Developer | Publisher: Mattis Folkestad | machineboy
- Age Rating: PEGI 12 | ESRB T (Teen)
- Price: UK £10.29 | US $12.99
- Release Date: 24th September 2020
Mattis Folkestad (who we interviewed back in August 2020) was kind enough to supply us with a review code, but all opinions contained within this review are my own.
Embracelet follows the coming-of-age story of Jesper, a lonely and moody teenage boy who lives in the city with his mother. He’s friendless and lacking direction, at least until his grandfather gives him a task: travel to Slepp, grandfather’s Norwegian home, and return this mystical bracelet to it’s rightful owner. Yep, good old Grandpa has a magical bracelet that can move objects. After some back-and-forth with his mother, Jesper finally hops on a boat and heads due North.
New friends and misadventures await Jesper on Slepp. Each villager has a distinct personality, all affected in some way by the decline of the small fishing village. You don’t tend to interact with the other villagers much, with the exception of Karoline and Hermod, the only other teenagers on the island.
I found Embracelet’s story interesting, however, it was one of those games that I wasn’t eager to keep picking up, but was really fun once I got going again. There’s a lot to learn on Slepp, though sometimes I was forced to take actions that I didn’t agree with! Jesper, Karoline, and Hermod are all at that awkward age where they disagree with the world, but have no power to change anything. While they were relatable, I think I am possibly a little too mature to really connect with the characters in the way that was intended.
Don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time smiling and occasionally laughing at their antics, and seeing the relationships develop was fun. However, I did find myself getting annoyed with the typical teenage immaturity at times.
Embracelet played nicely both with keyboard/mouse and with a gamepad, though I confess I preferred using the gamepad. The majority of Embracelet is running around talking to people, and occasionally interacting with items to use the bracelet, so being able to sit back in the chair while I played was nice. There are a few scenarios in which you feel like you have to rush, but the majority of the game is nice and laid-back with no sense of urgency.
Unfortunately, despite the controls being very relaxed, I do have a couple of gripes. Controlling Jesper felt like a chore – every movement felt sluggish and clunky, like I was trying to drive a tank. Also, I understand the reasoning behind the limited camera angles and movement, but having to run in an awkward circle to turn my view was annoying. During one scene, it took me ages to find the object I was supposed to interact with purely because spinning the camera was so fiddly.
Graphics, Sound, and Performance
Embracelet embraced (there’s a tongue-twister for you!) the polygonal and bright aesthetic with open arms. I loved the fact that everything looked like it could have been a piece of very advanced origami, which lent an almost whimsical tone to the design. The basic nature of the scenery was refreshing, too – I was never having to peer closely at the screen just to find something.
The sound design is absolutely on point. Light-hearted at times, dramatic at others, the basic nature of the world is steered towards different moods based on the music. There aren’t any complicated or overwhelming tracks, in fact they’re quite simple, but they provide a perfect accompaniment to Jesper’s journey.
Embracelet is possibly a little pricey, considering it only took me about 5 hours to finish and the drive to launch it isn’t particularly strong. However, once you get into it there’s a good amount of fun to be had, with some very emotional sequences that made me smile with a feeling of self-indulgency. Beautiful graphics and even more beautiful sounds make wandering the paths of Slepp a truly enjoyable experience, barring the few gameplay irritants.
While not a perfect game, Embracelet is nonetheless an enjoyable coming-of-age diversion.