"Aether" Game Review

Updated on April 15, 2020
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Rachelle is a digital content creator who enjoys playing video games in their spare time.

"Aether" is a free game that can be played on any Flash disabled browser.
"Aether" is a free game that can be played on any Flash disabled browser.

Aether is a browser game that was published by Armor Games, which is a game portal website that hosts Flash-based and HTML5 browser games—do you remember "Flash?" Apple tried to kill it, but alas . . . it is still around—but, I digress.

The concept for the game sprang from the minds of its developers, Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel. The game was released on September 3, 2008, making it one of the first, if not the first, browser game in history.

McMillen and Glaiel developed the entire game in a whopping, 14-day time frame. Aether received overwhelmingly positive reviews from gamers across the globe, but it was never released beyond browser format.

Venture into space! Exploring distant planets and solving their puzzles to change the way the world views you, become a hero!

Gameplay

Your player is a child who rides atop a flying, squid-like beast. Aether is meant to be a journey through the child's imagination and his emotional experiences with, rejection, depression, and anxiety.

The official description for the game was as follows: "Venture into space! Exploring distant planets and solving their puzzles to change the way the world views you, become a hero!"

Aether is a space adventure game, where the object is for your player to land on a total of five planets, which will save the planet's inhabitants from some sort of impending doom. Your player is also tasked with the responsibility of solving a bunch of puzzles.

The puzzles are not hard to solve, and once all of the puzzles have been solved, and all of the planets have been safely navigated to and landed upon, your player is granted safe passage to return to Earth.

In a 2008 game review, Wired magazine called the game world in Aether, "hauntingly beautiful." Although it cannot hold a candle to more recent games that have been described the same way by the same publication . . . Aether is still a gorgeous and enthralling game.

The score was received with a mediocre response, mainly because some critics did not enjoy the constant loop in the music—but many players find the music to be pleasant and "in tune" with the gameplay.

The only outright negative aspect of the game is its game controls. Most critics and gamers alike, believe the controls could have been greatly improved before launch—but it is especially key here to keep in mind that the game was launched in only two weeks.

Game Development

At the time of Aether's development, Edmund McMillen was a member of an indie game development studio called Cryptic Sea. Mcmillen had already found success in the game development world, because he was the co-creator of a popular game called Gish.

Tyler Glaiel was busy running his own indie game development studio, Glaiel Games, where he developed Flash games for the gaming/animation website, Newgrounds.

For Aether, McMillan was in charge of the graphics and its storyline. Glaiel was in charge of writing the code as well as scoring the music for the game.

It is important to note that Edmund McMillen came up with the story as a result of his own personal experiences with loneliness and rejection, and he was hesitant to release the game.

Critics of the game wrote of the non-intuitive nature of the method for solving the puzzles, and some of them did not like the fact that the planet's inhabitants were perpetually gloomy, even after the planet had been "rescued" by the player/protagonist.

Others suggested McMillen and Glaiel should have added more spatial content, such as black holes and nebulae into the game world, and then was the universal dislike for the game controls. However, there were more praises for the game than criticisms, and it has many fans, even today.

In Conclusion

The game developers had a desire to see the game being released on the Wii console via the now-defunct, WiiWare online platform, but as far as I know, the game has only ever been released via browser format. The game is free to play, and I have included the necessary link below.

Today, McMillen's story has been favorably compared to the classic tale in The Little Prince. Glaiel's coding skills were on-point, because Aether's technical performance is stellar, and it received an Honorable Mention at the IndieCade independent gaming festival in 2009.

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