Trapped and alone on a foreign planet, Escape from Tethys carries heavy Metroid vibes and inspirations, specifically from Metroid Fusion. Playing as some dude in a Samus-like space suit, the player will traverse both outdoor environments, indoor corridors, and be hunted by an Android that is reminiscent of Samus’ SA-X doppelganger only not as terrifying. Make no mistake, this is a quality Metroid-clone through and through.
In order to escape from this planet gone wrong, the player needs to navigate to the escape ship by collecting power-ups and new abilities. Dashing, double jumping, and be able to move through water are just some of the enhancements the player will find in addition to health and super weapon expansions. If you swapped Samus for this nameless playable character, it would be difficult to tell the difference.
The overall map in which the player can venture is massive and quite impressive for a $10 digital download. There are also many enemy types, many that seemed to have been transported directly from planet Zebes, and some creative level design which makes this campaign rather addicting. On my first play through, I played for a couple hours straight, never once looking at the clock or acknowledging the time; it has been a while since I was genuinely enthralled in Metroid style gameplay like this.
Escape from Tethys has some blemishes that unfortunately hold back its greatness. The biggest issue is the minimal amount of save points and teleporters. It is rather frustrating to venture down a path, realize you cannot progress until you obtain an item, double back, then die a few screens from a save point after playing for thirty minutes. Playing on the easy difficulty helps a bit with this frustration but it will still happen. Teleporters appear in less frequency so there will be some needless backtracking on occasion. However, the player unlocks an ability to warp to any teleport station at will but this happens late in the game, allowing the player to collect those final power-ups before facing the final boss.
Thankfully, there are plenty of secrets off the beaten path so players are rewarded for exploring in this exploring heavy title. The mapping system is also heavily influenced by Super Metroid although it does not indicate where a hidden item is located (the open circle versus a dot symbol on the map). This makes tracking down everything for completionists more tedious than it needs to be. I also encountered a super frustrating glitch in which I fell through a floor and got trapped off screen, forcing a full restart and losing a good 30 minutes of progress. Towards the end of the game, the screen kept bouncing up and down a few pixels for some reason which wasn’t game breaking by any means, just odd and annoying. There were a few times I wish there was some type of waypoint system to provide a general indication on where to go. With some tenacity, I was able to figure everything out without looking at a guide and without an extensive amount of trouble, creating a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Not quite 16-bit but more detailed than something from the 8-bit era, the visuals are something in between. Simple but functional, this downloadable title will not win any awards in the visual department but it still manages to provide a wondrous sense of personality. I thought having all parts of the environment built only on sharp 90 degree angles would hinder the experience but I didn’t care once I was entertainingly focused on navigating this large space. There is no ability to cling to ledges but the player will unlock a wall jump ability as one the last unlocks. I mention this because it seems like the player should be able to grasp and edge, then pull yourself up just from how the sprite art is drawn. Clinging to walls is also a bit too much on the magnetic side but can be overcome with some trial.
Escape of Tethys took four hours to complete on my first play through and I have not enjoyed a Metroid-style game this much since Metroid Zero Mission on GBA. Sometimes You have done it again. They often release bite-size adventures at an affordable price that is filled with quality gameplay, usually focusing on one mechanic that shines to a bright polish. It might not be perfect but this is one indie exploratory action adventure not to miss.
Also available on Switch and PS4.
Better Than: Xeodrifter
Also Try: Gato Roboto
Wait For It: The Messenger 2