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Should I be excited about… Sentris (PC)

Sentris is a music based puzzle game. Almost a cross between Guitar Hero and Tetris in an abstract way. The main aim is to get coloured blocks to fit into the spinning wheel, sometimes in a specific place on said wheel. The result? A tune, hopefully.

2014-09-03_00005Sentris is in Early Access at the moment and unfortunately the first thing you are presented with, the main menu, makes this very obvious. It’s not complete, but at least they acknowledge that fact. The game has been developed in Unity, and what you see in this main menu is the default GUI skin and the bog standard UI elements. Unfortunately the UI doesn’t even scale appropriately for different screen widths,¬†however all the selections are there for you to make in setting up your next game. You have to choose a difficulty level, AKA song, before the latter options are available, a couple of greyed out selection boxes suggest more songs will be added in a later build. One you have your base track you can then adjust the tempo and key before selecting the background style of the level. This latter option is purely aesthetic.

Once you are in the game proper you can see that a lot more work has gone into the look of it than the main menu. The various backgrounds are pretty, if sometimes a little psychedelic. The coloured blocks are all vibrant, if ever so slightly unfriendly to colourblind people. But at this point it’s all about the music. You have four outer rings of blocks which are your instrument sections: bass, drums, rhythm and melody. It’s up to you have you fill up the rotating track below with these blocks, the only restriction being that you have to fill the highlighted areas. Each track will be made up of a few puzzles, so you can build your track up section by section as you go or just completely change it with each puzzle. You can either place blocks individually, or chord them up before laying them down.

2014-09-03_00010The good thing about the game is there is no fail state. You can keep laying down the blocks until you are happy. If you use all the blocks from one track you can cycle back and reuse them. An option in the main menu gives you the extra ability to navigate left and right between the blocks as well. While this makes it easier to complete the puzzles, it also allows you to be a bit more creative in your placement and essentially undo any mistakes you feel you have made, however it will take some practise before you learn what each block is going to sound like and are able create something that is even slightly melodic. Often I was happy with my creation after completing a stage, only to have it ruined while attempting to complete the final puzzle.

The idea behind Sentris is a good one, but this game still has a long way to go. It can also make you a little queasy. You remember that feeling you got after playing guitar hero too much, where everything in the world seemed to be travelling towards you? Imagine that, but instead everything is spinning. If you play Sentris for any length of time (more than one song) you are likely to experience this. It will be interesting to see how far the developers can take Sentris, especially when some more songs are added, but for now you might want to hold for the final version.

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