Restore an ancient temple city and uncover its truths. In Glyph, you play as a mechanical beetle aptly named Glyph. Roll, jump, bounce and glide in a true-to-form 3D platformer that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Collect Coins and Artifacts to unlock more of the hub world and uncover the truth about a civilisation that once was.
Sometimes, developers can overthink 3D platformers. Many believe that due to classic entries like Banjo-Kazooie, Super Mario Sunshine and even the more recent Super Mario Odyssey, any good 3D platformer requires a wacky gimmick. This can often overshadow the importance of polished 3D gameplay, resulting in overcomplicated messes. Whilst Glyph certainly has that aforementioned hook with its marble style design akin to Super Monkey Ball, it manages to back it up with smooth physics and engaging gameplay that never skips a beat.
The concept of Glyph being a mechanical insect creature gives the character much more maneovrability. The game's opening tutorials are wonderfully explained and even add small GIF-like videos to show you how to pull off some pretty ingenious manoeuvres. Once the gameplay opens up and you being to learn how to glide and cover large stretches of land, the possibilities feel almost endless, making the player excited for each new challenge that they'll come across.
Glyph's platforming relies heavily on momentum and inertia. As you learn and grow familiar with double jumping, timing your glides and familiarising yourself with the layout and angles of the land, you'll soon realise that you can pull off some incredible feats of platforming that couldn't really be done in most other 3D platformers. Think the intertia one would experience in Metroid Prime when in Morph Ball mode, but magnified by one hundred!
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I'll be the first to say that I am not a speedrunner. I like to play my games slow and methodically, which Glyph certainly caters to wonderfully. Although if you are one who likes to get the fastest run times, then this game will also caters to you as well. Whether it's trying to clear the level as quickly as possible by gliding far distances to nab the keys and get to the end or by doing a 100% run by using all of Glyph's possible maneouvres to get every collectable along the way, this game caters to everyone.
World / Level Design
Glyph opts for a platforming experience that adopts a bite-sized level approach. By this, I mean that each level can be completed within a single minute, or you can take your time to explore. Whilst I can't lie that a sandbox world where you freely roll around as a balled up insect is enticing, the short and sweet design helps its pickup and play style that feels right at home on Switch.
Once the tutorial is over, the gameplay becomes a bit more open as you'll use your collected gems to unlock new hub worlds. Within these worlds, you'll unlock levels by paying with the coins and artifacts you collect and, in the HUD at the top of the screen, see which collectibles are still available for you to find. This encourages collecting, which all great 3D platformers do, and Glyph makes this progress feel rewarding (like Banjo-Kazooie) rather than a tedious slog (like Donkey Kong 64).
Overall, there are two separate types of levels: the sandbox design where you can take your time and collect everything you can or the linear design, where you are rewarded with one, two or three Power Gems depending on how quickly you can collect the three keys and make it to the end. The latter are stressful but with a bit of practice and perseverence, you'll get there in no time (or at least, finish the level with just the one Power Gem - like me).
Story / Personality
Set in the remains of the lost desert civilisation of Aaru, Glyph has the titular hero return the lost relics to their rightful place. The entirety of this story plays out in text spoken by another mechanical beetle ball which, in all honestly, feels incredibly lacklustre. The focus in this game is undoubtedly the gameplay and the plot is simply there to provide a sense of meaning to the progression. It works but it's certainly the most unremarkable aspect in this game.
Graphics / Art Direction
3D platformer games, especially when running on Switch, can come out fuzzy and lacking in visual fidelity; this is absolutely not the case for Glyph. The bug's model is lively and the environments, whilst simple, pop and shine with crisp animation and smooth motions. It's a shame that the Nintendo Switch doesn't support High Dynamic Range (HDR) but with Glyph, you wouldn't even know. Its colours pop with the bright vibrance that you'd expect from a first-party Nintendo title and that, on Switch hardware, is very impressive.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack is... OK, I guess. It's difficult to even call it a soundtrack, rather it simply provides harmoneous sounds which are, what I can only guess, attempts at being calming for the player as the difficulty gradually ramps up.
The sound effects can, at times, be oddly satisfying, particularly when you're rolling around and you hear the clackity-clank of Glyph's outer shell. This can also be said about his wings as you glide and flutter across long distances. The only negative is that when playing Glyph is played in docked mode with my TV hooked up to my sound system, I really wanted to hear the thump when Glyph either slams back down to the ground or goes through speed-boosting portals.
Final Score: 85%
Glyph is a beautiful 3D platformer that successfully pulls off its own hook without overcomplicating itself. There is so much to love about this game's platforming mechanics and if it wasn't for a lacklustre soundtrack and shoed-in plot, it could have easily been considered as an early contender for indie game of the year. But if you're in the mood for a genuinely well-crafted 3D platformer and don't wish to be bogged down with an overtly in-your-face story, then look no further than Glyph.
Thank you for checking out our Glyph Switch review, thank you to Bolverk Games for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: