PAX East 2015: IMPRESSIONS: Sentris

Friday, March 13th, 2015

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Sentris | oprainfall

If you haven’t taken a look at the music-based puzzle game Sentris since the Alpha version debuted on Steam Early Access last Summer, then maybe it’s time. The game has gone through a whole bunch of updates and changes since then. The most recent update, named “Honeycomb”, was playable at PAX East, and I got a chance to check it out.

The basic rundown of the game is that it is a musical twist on the Tetris formula. The puzzle area is round and constantly rotating, like an old phonograph, while the blocks come in from the top. You can choose which block you want to drop onto the board by both instrument, denoted by block color, and note, denoted by the specific honeycomb symbol on the block itself. Once a block is placed, its specific musical note is played every time it hits a certain point on its rotation. Again, think of a record on a turntable. The goal is to drop the blocks onto the spaces with the corresponding symbols so that the puzzle plays a song.

One of the major complaints people had back then was the lack of a tutorial. Personally, I had felt overwhelmed trying to play the earlier versions. This new release lets you start out slowly, with puzzles that let you see exactly how everything is supposed to fit into place. However, these puzzles can get complex rather quickly. After just a few beginner levels, I found myself in a bit of a predicament in a puzzle that only had two instruments. Fortunately, there is no timer aspect to the game, so you can sit and watch the puzzle spin trying to figure out the best move with no pressure.

Sentris - Puzzle

Aside from the puzzle modes, there is also a freestyle mode, where you can just drop blocks on to the center circle to try to create a song of your own (or recreate one that already exists). I actually see some decent potential for this if it catches on. People could play or create music in Sentris as they did with Mario Paint Composer and upload it to YouTube.

While I love music, I can’t play an instrument, nor do I know much about music theory. I definitely felt more comfortable playing this newer version, however I can’t help but feel that my lack of musical knowledge leaves me at a disadvantage. To be fair, I’m not sure there’s anything the game or the developer can do about that. I’m also not sure if it’s not all in my head. Correctly solving the puzzle does let it play the song properly, but if you miss a block, or struggle with a puzzle, those odd notes can throw the music off balance.

I’ve had my eye on this game for a while, and I’m really curious as to what the final outcome will be. This version of Sentris is currently available on Steam Early Access. And when the game is finally released, it will be out on PlayStation 4 as well.


About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.