The 3D Platforming genre has been pretty dormant in terms of quality for the last decade. AAA hits like Super Mario: Odyssey and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart kept the genre from going all but extinct, but now gamers are on the cusp of a 3D Platforming renaissance. Glyph is a 3D platformer from indie developers Bolverk Games that combines the infuriating yet addicting movement of Super Monkey Ball with the satisfying platforming of Super Mario Bros. Glyph has a lot of charm buried in its sandy wasteland, but there are a few hiccups that stand in the way of making this a perfect platforming experience.
Skill, Precision, and Patience
In Glyph, players take control of a mechanical scarab beetle who is tasked with saving the Ancient Temple City from a giant mechanical monster. To do so, players will have to venture through various parts of the desert collecting coins, keys, gems, and golden scarabs. While the player character has four legs, you'll never get to use them. Instead, players are given a small but versatile set of moves to work with. The controls won't take long to learn but might take some time to master.
What starts as a fairly easy experience quickly becomes more treacherous and difficult as the game progresses. Players won't gain any new moves or abilities, but they will have to learn how to adapt their skills to their environment. Glyph's level design is smart as it raises the difficulty with each level without making it feel unfair. Completing levels won't always be as simple as jumping to the end of the course. Players will be challenged mentally to figure out how to use Glyph's moves properly. You won't be able to brute force your way through every level, and finishing the game requires a lot of skill, precision, and patience.
A Somber Sandy Wasteland
With the entire game taking place in a desert wasteland, the world itself doesn't boast much charm. The environments can be a bit lackluster, however, that does fit the game's overall narrative. The beautiful Ancient Temple City has had its life stolen by a mechanical monstrosity, so it makes sense for there not to be any greenery or lively stages. Regardless, if it weren't for the unique level design, the game itself can seem lifeless. It would have been nice to see a variety in the landscape of the worlds whether that be lava, ice, etc. It never feels like you've visited the same level twice, and the lighting in levels can add atmosphere, but it often feels like there's something missing that would have added to the player's experience.
The storyline also leaves more to be desired and it's better if the player doesn't focus on it too much. While there are plenty of other scarabs around, you are the only one who can save everyone. Don't ask why, because the game doesn't tell you. It also doesn't explain much about the monster and you won't get to see the beauty of the Ancient Temple City before he arrives. And the ending of the game feels disappointing considering the effort it takes to reach.
This Beetle Needs A Little Polish
Glyph, as a whole, is a very enjoyable experience. It's one of the best 3D platformers to be released in recent history, but it still lacks the polish needed to be a truly fantastic game. Outside of storyline and atmosphere, there are some mechanical issues that can tend to be frustrating. Some bumps or weird edges on platforms will send the player flying (unintentionally). Some platforms register as the sand which will instantly kill the player if they touch them. And the skull difficulty indicators might as well mean nothing. Some two skull levels were far harder to complete than the final boss.
One thing that also felt disappointing is the requirements to beat the game. The hub world isn't linear because it allows players to unlock the levels they want to play in a semi-free order. Yet, while there are over 80 levels to experience, you only have to beat a handful to get to the final boss. This could lead to players bypassing the latter half of the game and missing some of the most enjoyable and challenging levels.
Glyph | Final Thought
Glyph isn't the greatest 3D platformer to be released, but it is a pretty darn good one. It's one of those games you can throw on your favorite playlists and vibe while soaring from platform to platform. The main storyline can be completed in as little as 3 hours, but true completionists could spend several more hours hunting for every last collectible. Glyph makes for an amazing addition to a 3D platformer fan's collection, and it's a game I'll come back to over and over again.
TechRaptor reviewed Glyph on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch.
- Tight Controls & Mechanics
- 80+ levels w/Tons to Collect
- Rewarding and Satisfying Gameplay
- Environments are Boring
- Large Portion of Levels can be Skipped
- Needs a bit More Polish