Story-driven games are a dime a dozen these days, but it's always hard to find a game with a captivating narrative that's worth you're time. That might be the case with Embracelet, a game created by Machineboy, aka Mattis Folkestad, where you have to deal with loss, self-discovery, and magic.
Embracelet storyEmbracelet is an adventure game where you play as Jesper, a 17-year-old who has problems at school and home. All that changes when he visits his grandpa, who gives him a bracelet with magical powers. You know, a typical grandfather and grandson relationship.
Jesper's grandfather doesn't know anything about the bracelet, other than it being magical. He lets you keep the bracelet with a few conditions: You can't tell anyone about it, you can't use its powers with other people, and you must find who it belongs to and return it. Grandpa makes all these rules because of his tragic mistakes in the past.
After grandpa dies, you'll start your journey to the south of Norway, to the island where your grandfather grew up.
The story as a whole is a bit slow-paced, in my opinion. It takes a while before things start to get interesting, and it might feel a bit dull at first. That said, after you begin to discover more about the tragic story behind the bracelet and your grandfather, you start to feel more invested and want to find out what's going on. Although, it's still a bit slow.
I got to say, I love how the game starts with: "Well, this is embarrassing." It perfectly captures how people might deal with a challenging situation by making fun of it even though that's not how they feel. Plus, I think that'll be the name of my autobiography.
Embracelet is all about friendship, love, and loss. You know Jesper feels alone and deals with his demons from the get-go. He never really knew his father, and every time he asks about him, his mother starts to cry, which could make him feel guilty for trying to find out more about him.
Throughout the game, we'll see Jesper deal with the loss of his loved ones, trying to create a better relationship with his mother and new friends, and trying to understand what his grandfather did that caused him so much sorrow and regret. All that while having magical powers, like all of us did when we were teens.
Overall, the story is really powerful and emotional. It's a journey about self-discovery and personal growth with a bit of magic to make things more interesting.
Embracelet gameplayOf course, like with many story-driven games, the gameplay isn't as polished as it should be. The camera is clumsy, and playing from your phone can be annoying. There were times I had to struggle just to go up a hill. I understand the game wasn't made exclusively for mobile, but I wish we could see some camera controls in the future. Or maybe even adding a point-and-click option. Check out the list of 57 currently soft-launched games you can play!
You'll have to interact with your surroundings to solve puzzles or make progress. The puzzles aren't that difficult, but you might get stuck from time to time. You'll have to interact with your surroundings to figure out what you're doing.
The funny and frustrating part is that you don't know what objects you can interact with unless you touch them first. They only glow after you touch them, so if you're stuck and trying to figure out a puzzle, you'll have to touch everywhere on your screen until something shines.
GraphicsBesides the story, Embracelet also has some charming aesthetics. The scenery is always beautiful, and your surroundings are vibrant and stunning when they need to be, or dark and gloomy when they have to. The characters are also colorful and unique. Machineboy did a great job of matching every character's personality with their looks and colours.
The most incredible part is how this full game is a one-man-team work. We've seen teams with more members that can't accomplish what Mattis did in this game.
Mattis managed to create a beautiful story that, even if it's a bit slow from time to time, is top-notch. You'll feel sympathy for Jesper and even learn a thing or two to use in your own life. Plus, the whole game is a beautiful world to explore and look around, even if the things around you aren't as crucial to the game or puzzles as you want.
Overall, if you're into narrative games, you'll love Embracelet, and you'll have a great time with it. And after you're done with it, you can always play some of the other great narrative games that are available.