Switch version tested
Review code provided
From Oslo with love.
Embracelet is a charming and heartfelt coming-of-age story with light puzzle-based gameplay as you uncover the secrets of a mysterious bracelet. Developed and published by Mattis Folkestad aka Machineboy, a one-man indie game studio from Oslo in Norway. His previous title, Milkmaid of the Milky Way, is also available on Nintendo Switch has won several awards since its release setting the bar high for this follow-up.
You play as Jesper, a Norwegian teenager who resides in the busy city with his mother. He lives an average teenage life, spending his days floating between school and home without ever really fitting in. His grandfather is old, tired and ill. He entrusts Jesper on a mission to return an enchanted bracelet he has secretly held in his possession for many years. After some deliberation, Jesper heads north to the old fishing village his grandfather grew up in and begins his quest to solve the mysteries of the bracelet. I really enjoyed the setting and getting to explore a different hometown and way of life.
A unique experience with a familiar ring
Gameplay is reminiscent of classic point and click adventure games with a modern twist and control system. The left analogue is used to guide Jesper safely around the island, movement is free-flowing with the camera pivoting around a fixed point in each area. Jesper can run when needed, interact with objects and NPCs with the press of a button. Where Embracelet adds it’s USP is with a circular cursor mapped to the right analogue stick. This always present pointer is used to highlight the objects of interest and unlock the power of the bracelet.
The wonderfully realised and varied cast of characters are utilised as the vehicle to progress the storyline. The writing is excellent and really helps to develop everyone’s personalities. Through interaction and conversation, Jesper slowly begins to unravel long-kept secrets in return for meeting certain criteria, completing tasks or choosing the right replies from preset responses. In the latter stage of the game, there are a few set pieces that require you to make important choices that will come full circle by the closing credits. Newfound friendships, possibly more, can be made or broken and the game really makes you think about your actions.
A big part of the game is in the puzzle-solving.
Each area is home items that can be manipulated by the magical bracelet. A quick time mechanic sees two circles expand and contract simultaneously, when they overlap hit the button to activate the bracelet. The puzzles aren’t designed to be overly taxing and most have a straightforward solution but some thinking outside of the box will be required. You can change the difficulty of the game from the menu at any time by adjusting the speed at which the circles move.
The visual style opted for is perfect for the style of play, the low-poly world is beautifully crafted and the character models are elegantly simplistic. The Norwegian island is bursting with life and things to do, I did find myself backtracking from time to time and got lost for the briefest of moments. The camera angle sometimes feels a little clunky and sticks in places, it’s a minor niggle that isn’t isolated solely to this game. Thankfully, it never gets in the way for too long hampering the enjoyment of Embracelet. The orchestral soundtrack is delightful and rounds off a package crafted with love, I’d have liked to hear a voiceover accompany but understand the limitations of the project.
Embracelet is a short, sweet and wholesome experience. The gameplay mechanics are solid and the excellent writing makes you feel responsible for your actions. The puzzles are fairly straight forward and provide a relaxing few hours away from the real world. The low-poly visual is charming, bringing the cast to life in front of your eyes. Embracelet is a great game and shining example of the quality that can be created, no matter the size of the team or budget.
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 24/09/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop