Amidst the desert ruins of an ancient civilization, you take on the role of Glyph, a mechanical scarab tasked with exploring the sand-drowned ruins of a once-mighty civilization. Buried beneath shifting sands and rolling dunes, this once mighty empire has taken their secrets with them and it’s up to you to find out what those were. Be warned though, for the further in you go, the harder it becomes to extract what those secrets may have been.
Will you take on the challenge of navigating the lost remnants of this world or will the truth be forever buried beneath the sands of time?
That is the background to Bolverk Games’ light physics-based platform puzzler, Glyph.
As the construct Glyph, you’ll be spending nearly all of your time in ball mode, rolling across the landscape while prey to the whims of physics that such a form entails. But fear not, as you’re not entirely helpless. Glyph has a few abilities that the game’s tutorials will take you through in an extensive fashion. What you learn here will be the basis for how you navigate the game’s navigation puzzle levels.
Glyph can jump, or more correctly bounce, when in contact with surfaces while specific tiles will allow it to double jump. Glyph can also use a ground slam ability to launch itself higher into the air. The final ability unfurls Glyph into avatar mode for a short flight duration to cover the larger distances between platforms and ledges. Combining all these moves together, while paying attention to the way physics affects the way Glyph moves, is the key to success.
Bolverk Games have designed levels that, while small, will both entertain and challenge you in equal measure. Sporting a vaguely Egyptian motif, the ruins that you will need to traverse are usually the final remnants of toppled pillars, shattered buildings, and tilted ledges and tiles. Navigating your way across the levels can be an arduous and tricky affair that usually requires all of Glyph’s move set to complete.
As a ball, Glyph rolls around as physics would dictate to a degree, meaning that you’ll constantly be nudging him back and forth across the environment lest momentum lets you roll off a ledge to the deadly sands – or clouds as some levels are set in them – below. But Glyph isn’t slavishly locked to the laws of physics. A jump can carry you quite far on its own and Glyph has just enough floatiness and control in the air to make even the minutest of course corrections.
Scattered across each level are coins to collect, gems to find, keys to pickup to open the level exit, artifacts to procure, and different avatar forms to unlock. The avatar forms are for cosmetics only but the other items are needed to progress. Once you’ve exited the tutorial into the game’s hub, coins will unlock new levels while the gems will open up new pathways to new levels in the hub. The artifacts will open up the game’s incredibly challenging Time Trial levels.
If you die during a level – it only takes touching the corrupted sands once to send Glyph back to the beginning of the stage – keys and artifacts are reset but thankfully the coins you’ve picked up stay with you. And you will die a lot because Glyph is an incredibly challenging game that walks that tight line between been fun enough to pick up for some relaxing platforming, but hard enough to ensure a tense playing experience that, when you finally complete a level, you’re rewarded with a sense of satisfaction.
Very early on the challenge picks up significantly, even in the levels that have a lower skull rating. Levels are rated from one to five skulls for difficulty. Often I’d find that I’d been holding my breath and my shoulders and wrists were tense when I’d completed a level, having to put my Switch down for a well-deserved break from what was an ultimately rewarding experience.
Your completion times are recorded and you can go back to replay the levels for better times if you prefer. Like a parkour game, finding that perfect line takes time but is worth the effort.
The Time Trial levels are where Glyph throws its hardest challenges at you. They’re small but require serious mastery of the game’s mechanics to reach even its gold, silver, and bronze levels. The gold time can be as low as ten seconds. Each tier per Trial will net you a gem making the effort worth it.
Visually Glyph is a beautifully stylised game that ran perfectly on the Switch Lite and is drenched in a wonderful fable-like aesthetic and atmosphere. Controls for Glyph are pitch-perfect as well, making your failures your own.
Packing in a ton of levels, Glyph is the sort of puzzle platforming experience that doesn’t come around often. With stunning visuals, solid controls, and gameplay that appeals to those looking for a laid-back exploration experience as well as a nerve-wracking one, Glyph soars above the competition and should be in your collection.
Visuals8/10 Very Good
Audio8/10 Very Good
Length8/10 Very Good
Gameplay8/10 Very Good
- Visually stunning
- Wonderfully challenging
- Great level design