Available now on Nintendo Switch, Glyph isn’t your typical platformer.
There’s no bipedal character here, ready and willing to hop, climb and jump their way to the finish line. Instead, Glyph has you in control of the titular glyph; a spherical mechanical being with more tricks up its sleeve than your regular ball.
In Super Monkey Ball style, you’ll start out by simply guiding your glyph around a track. Narrow pathways and tight corners require you to have great control as you roll your ball, trying your best to stick to the track and not plummet to your guaranteed death below. But this isn’t a game simply about rolling. Your glyph can jump, glide, slam into the ground and climb up walls. All very useful skills – and skills you’ll need to utilise if you’re to beat the challenges that Glyph throws at you.
Glyph pulls no punches right from the outset. You’ll learn your skills in quick succession and, after a few pointers, you’ll need to figure out yourself when to utilise them. Can you make it from one platform to another with a standard jump, or will you need to glide? You’ll likely find out the hard way – and that’s just the beginning of it.
This is a beautiful game; levels are set in a mystical, desert-inspired world that’s a joy to take in. Add to that a wonderfully invocative soundtrack and Glyph really is a pleasure to play. When it’s not kicking your ass, of course; this isn’t designed to be a leisurely, relaxing experience – progressing through the game requires some serious skill and perseverance.
Everything from learning how your glyph moves to figuring out how much momentum you need to pass through a particular section requires patience. Crossing a cavernous gap might require you to utilise multiple of your skills in quick succession; a ground-pound that leads into a double-jump followed by a glide through the air. You’ll need to be co-ordinated with your inputs, otherwise failure is never far away. Especially when more difficult obstacles are thrown into the mix, or you’re up against a timer.
Directional accuracy is important, too. Many sections of Glyph require you to navigate tiny platforms or narrow pathways. Overshoot a jump, or roll just a little too much when you land, and you’ll find yourself falling into the abyss below. It rarely feels unfair, though; controls are tight enough to allow for the accuracy required. You’ve just got to practice, practice, practice.
Yes, having to replay the same section time and again until you get your jump, timing and execution just right can be infuriating, but when you do nail a section, it comes with a great sense of achievement. No matter how difficult its challenges become, Glyph is a game that begs you to keep going. And thanks to its charming design and beautiful environments, it’s likely that you will.
Glyph Review: GameSpew’s Score