When Eternightswas unveiled at PlayStation’s State of Play event last year, I immediately wanted to check it out. This fusion of a dating sim and hack-and-slash action RPG piqued my interest because it felt like a new spin on the established Persona series. Now that the game’s release is on the horizon, I can confidently say that the wait has been worth it.
The Love Apocalypse
In Eternights, you step into the shoes of a young man on a quest for love, having had little success on online dating apps. Your best friend and roommate, Chani, decide to set up your dating profile and play the swiping game on your behalf. But when you thought you were going to a romantic rendezvous, a peculiar drug called Eternights turns ordinary folks into zombie-like creatures. Now, your mission is twofold: find shelter and, if fate allows, score a date amid the chaos. Because, as we all know, falling in love and saving the world go hand in hand, right?
The game throws you headfirst into this unlikely scenario, and while the rapid pace is intriguing, it can sometimes feel rushed and hard to believe. A seemingly unreachable singer from a TV screen becomes your party member within mere minutes, leaving you somewhat bewildered.
The Heart of Eternights
It’s best not to take the plot too seriously, as Eternights‘ true essence lies in its gameplay and characters. Unlike its Persona inspiration, Eternights takes a bold departure by embracing hack-and-slash action-RPG mechanics akin to titles like Tales of Arise or Nier Automata. You have several buttons for slashing, dodging, and unleashing special skills. While the basics are there, the combat feels sluggish and lacks depth.
What makes matters worse is the inconsistency in enemy difficulty. Most of the time, you’ll breeze through foes without breaking a sweat. However, the game occasionally throws punishing encounters your way, often involving larger foes with erratic attack patterns. Unlike other games with strict combat mechanics, Eternights’ enemies don’t follow consistent patterns, making dodging an exercise in frustration. This results in an uneven difficulty curve, swinging between overly easy and unfairly challenging.
A Journey Through The End Of The World
Exploration in Eternights doesn’t offer much excitement either, mainly traversing linear dungeon corridors. Hub locations are lacking, and puzzles can be infuriating due to their strict one-shot nature, requiring flawless execution.
Eternights’ dungeons strike a delicate balance, offering just the right content without overstaying their welcome. The action-oriented combat keeps things engaging and prevents monotony from setting in. But the diverse puzzles and minigames sprinkled throughout truly set these dungeons apart.
Puzzles come in various flavours, from memory games to tile rearrangements and simultaneous colour tile switches. You’ll even find stealth segments and an adrenaline-pumping motorcycle racing minigame. These diversions serve as refreshing breaks from the core gameplay, ensuring that repetition never becomes an issue. Although they appear regularly enough to provide variety, they don’t overstay their welcome, keeping the experience consistently engaging.
Despite these challenges, Eternights keeps you engaged with its primary missions, each with a timer ticking down. Between these missions, you can bond with your party members by helping them out and going on scavenger hunts. These interactions raise your relationship levels with characters and unlock new skills and dialogue options.
Love in the Apocalypse
In Eternights, each party member comes with a social or relationship rank, including Chani, your trusty support character, aiding you in boosting social stats needed to strengthen your connections with other characters. It would help if you spent quality time with your companions to enhance these ranks. White Essence is a valuable resource you collect to bolster stats linked to your party members. You can achieve this by engaging in training sessions with them or gathering items they require. These stats encompass a range of improvements, from increasing health and SP to enhancing their unique abilities.
Conversely, Black Essence is your currency, gathered within dungeons and earned through battles. It’s the key to levelling up your sword skills and unlocking new ones. Initially, SP might feel limited, prompting you to pace yourself and tackle dungeons in multiple phases to recharge your strength. However, as you progress, efficient skill usage allows you to navigate later dungeons more swiftly.
Eternights introduces dating sim mechanics as you build relationships, allowing you to pursue romantic interests among your fellow survivors. You’ll find a diverse cast of characters, each with their quirks and outfits ill-suited for combat. The conversations are sprinkled with humour and witty writing, maintaining an irreverent and light-hearted tone throughout the game. While some jokes may fall flat, the overall charm prevails, making it a delightful experience.
The game even offers same-sex romance options, ensuring inclusivity in your post-apocalyptic dating endeavours. Eternights balances playful and risqué, staying on the side of good-natured fun rather than crossing into explicit territory.
Visually, Eternights has its share of imperfections. Questionable animations and odd character running mechanics are hard to ignore. Yet, clever lighting masks some of these shortcomings, especially during combat in dimly lit arenas.
Eternights defies expectations by emerging as more than the sum of its parts. Its witty writing compensates for storytelling hiccups, and the occasional combat flaws don’t overshadow the overall experience. Despite its rough edges, the game offers charm despite its perverse nature. So there you have it—a glimpse into the enigmatic world of Eternights, where love and chaos intertwine in a hack-and-slash dating sim like no other. Prepare to embark on this unconventional journey and experience the apocalypse in a new light.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PC
Eternights defies expectations by emerging as more than the sum of its parts. Its witty writing compensates for storytelling hiccups, and the occasional combat flaws don’t overshadow the overall experience.