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Hourglass review for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Secret Item Games
Developer: Secret Item Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

If you’ve ever wondered what Portal would be like if it had an ancient Egyptian theme, wonder no more. It would probably look somewhat similar to Hourglass.

Of course, you could probably substitute a whole bunch of games for Portal in that last paragraph. Rime, The Witness, QUBE, Talos Principle, The Spectrum Retreat, Faraday Protocool…the list of first-person puzzlers goes on and on, and Hourglass is indebted to pretty much all of them. It’s not what you’d call an original game.

To be fair, of course, it never tries to hide its influences. When it first showed up on Kickstarter a few years ago, it stated right up front that it was influenced by Portal, The Witness, and Rime, and it very clearly lives up to that promise.

Further, even if it’s more like a pastiche of other, largely better games, that doesn’t mean that Hourglass is a bad game itself. Once you get beyond playing “spot the influence”, in fact, you’ll find that it offers a pretty decent experience. While few of its puzzles are challenging – nearly all of them involve creating a ghost of yourself to step on a button, and then using that as an opening to grab a rather Portal-y looking box, which you then place on another button to open a door – they’re at least guided by an obvious and discernible logic. What’s more, the game doesn’t extend itself further than it needs to: you’ll be able to finish it in a few hours, and it never feels padded.

Again, there’s not really anything new or inventive here. If you’ve played any first-person puzzlers in the past decade-plus, you’ll know exactly what to expect in Hourglass. But if you liked any of them, the good news is that you’ll at least find things to enjoy here, too. Hourglass may not be original, but it’s still a decent enough way to spend a few hours.

Secret Item Games provided us with an Hourglass Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B