Many developers have tried to capture the lightning in a bottle that is 3D platforming with varying degrees of success. glyph is Bolverk Game’s attempt at the genre despite its main claim to fame being a cartoon virtual reality shooter called Dick Wilde.
However, if you’re expecting something slapped up from a developer unfamiliar with the genre, you couldn’t be more wrong. glyph is a surprising addition to the Bolverk Games library with its creative level design and gameplay.
Developer: Bolverk Games
Publisher: Bolverk Games
Platforms: Windows PC (revised), Nintendo Switch
Release date: August 21, 2021
The concept behind glyph Is simple. You control a rolling beetle and explore the ruins left behind by an ancient civilization. The elders are long gone, having created a guardian who has corrupted the surrounding wasteland.
All that remains of this civilization are the ruins and scarab-like guardians. In case you haven’t figured it out, the titular glyph is one of those guardians. Glyph’s special role is to explore the ruins in search of gems, coins, and artifacts. These trinkets are used to restore the vault that houses the Corrupted Guardian.
It’s a simple story, but glyph doesn’t have to be complicated. The main focus of the game is of course: the gameplay. With its physics-based platforming and creative level design, glyph is easy to play and hard to master (all the best platformers are).
It is entirely possible for a casual player to reach the final boss of glyph (beating him is another story). But that’s probably my favorite thing about platformers, making the whole game accessible to casual gamers, while giving hardcore platformers something to aim for.
Getting a stage to 100% is a challenge that will test players looking for difficulty. Whether it’s finding the hidden switch and doing the optional part of a stage to get a cosmetic; or get the gold medal on a time trial stage. glyph rewards skillful play while being fun for everyone.
Steps in glyph are classified into two categories: Exploration and Time Trial. In exploration stages, you have as much time as you want to roll and collect all the coins, gems, keys, and a hidden cosmetic from each stage. But beware, keys and cosmetics are lost on death, forcing you to collect them again.
Frankly, this is probably the weakest part of glyph for me. It seems a bit pointless to lose the keys and even more pointless to lose the cosmetic (since most of the secret paths hiding them give you a quick way back to the main play area). If it’s to log level time, I feel like it would be better if time kept adding up between deaths or just had a separate “speed run” mode for levels exploration. But that’s a small detail in the bigger scheme of things.
The time trial stages are exactly what they sound like. Collect all the keys and complete the stage within a set amount of time. Players receive gems for each medal they get (up to 3) and after getting gold they unlock a track cosmetic to further beautify Glyph.
Cosmetics are varied enough to be worth it, trailing particle effects are unlocked in Time Trials, and new bodies are unlocked in Explore Stages. Bolverk didn’t shy away from designing all sorts of different bodies for Glyph, ranging from winged turtles to helicopter drones to flying skulls. As I said before, glyph is a game that sufficiently rewards skill.
Of course, not all cosmetics are created equal. There is a mechanic in glyph where you can jump or even double jump if you hit a spot that charges you. Glyph has well… glyphs on it that glow to let you know if you can jump or double jump. But different cosmetics have different ways of expressing this, and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re charged for a super jump or not without trying it and possibly wasting your double jump charge.
The music is this really relaxed synthwave soundscape. I know I say this often about game music, but it’s helpful. None of the tracks are creaky, but none of them are rowdy either. But that’s really where most games fall, not everything can be Final Fantasy XIV when it comes to music (although that does set the bar a bit high, doesn’t it?)
Back to how glyph is a game that requires 100% skill. This ultimately means that glyph is both a short and long game. You can reach the final boss after collecting gems from about a third of the game’s stages and skipping everything else. If that’s what you want to do, you can definitely call glyph a short time waster of three hours.
Corn glyph is much more than that and for fans of the platform genre there is a lot of content to see in this game. There are over 80 stages and I can easily see myself going back and trying to clear at 100 % the entire game for fun and walk away with every gem, coin and cosmetic unlocked.
Ultimately glyph is the kind of game that collect-a-thon fans will enjoy. Maybe it’s not as grumpy with its collectibles as Banjo-Kazooie or other classics, but what this version lacks, glyph compensates with its difficulty and creative level design.
Whether you’re a hardcore platformer speedrunner or someone who wants to try their hand at platforming a little more difficult than you’re typical Nintendo fare. I would find it hard not to recommend glyph.
Glyph was reviewed on a Windows PC using a copy provided by Bolverk Games. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s Review/Ethics Policy here.