Eternights Review (PS5) – Say what you will about how 2023 has been a good or bad year for games, but one thing’s for certain: RPG fans have been eating well. Sea Of Stars, Baldur’s Gate 3, Final Fantasy XVI, Octopath Traveler 2 all came out in the same year, which must feel like the best year if you’re an RPG fan, not to mention the ones yet to come.
Excluding Sea Of Stars however, the rest of those titles aren’t brand new IP. Enter Eternights, a new action RPG which, unlike every other previously mentioned game, is trying its hand at a Persona style RPG, with an action twist.
In the RPG genre, there aren’t many games that do it quite like Persona 5. It is a stylish, incredibly deep JRPG that encourages the player to invest their time into characters which ultimately influences your abilities to overcome challenges you as the player will face.
It is especially rare to come across a game that encourages you to invest in its characters and influences your abilities, thus acting as the game’s core mechanic. Well, what if there was a game out there that has the confidant system of Persona, solid real-time combat, an engaging story, charming characters, and the ability to romance all of them at once? Yes, you read that last part correctly.
Developed and published by Studio Sai, Eternights encourages you to explore the relationships of your companions which influences the player to grow stronger both physically and emotionally.
With multiple endings, a surprisingly rewarding combat system, a charming aesthetic, New Game Plus, and some of the most heartfelt characters you’ll ever have the pleasure of coming across in a video game, Persona fans can rejoice. A new game is in town and ready for you to sink your hard earned money and time into.
Eternights Review (PS5) – Persona Meets Action In A Charming Dating-Sim RPG
Swipe Right Ladies and Gents
The game begins as you the player are preparing yourself for the most important step of your life; entering the dating scene. Your best friend Chani is assisting you in building the most perfect profile everyone will swoon over.
Later that night you receive an invite from him to join another app. After answering some questions, you’re matched with a girl.
In what seems like a promising match, you both agree to meet up the next day for a date. On your way, horrific events in the city transpire.
People begin turning into monsters and the city goes under lockdown, with residents forced to enter safety shelters, resulting in the entire city being influenced by a worldwide project outbreak named ‘Eternights’.
As you navigate your way through the underground shelter, you try to find the surface and escape the perils of what face you. A woman and the monsters that accompany her capture you and chop off your arm. In doing so, a vision within you is triggered and you are greeted by a beautiful girl, Lux. You soon realize she was the girl you got matched with on the dating app.
Lux is an architect, one who influences the human mind and soul. Her rival Umbra wants to take ‘The Stone’ which grants an architect the power to change the world as we know it for the worst. To maintain the current balance sustained by Lux, you have been chosen to prevent the stone from falling into Umbra’s hands.
In order to grow stronger and fend off the powers that will stand in your way, you will need to build upon the relationships with those around you. The deeper your bonds, the more powerful both you and your companions will become.
You’ll Never See It Coming
Eternights has a perfect blend of relationship-building and gameplay to keep players engaged. During the day you are tasked to go to the respective dungeon to fend off the dangers you’re faced with.
Much like Persona, you have a certain amount of days until an enemy or catastrophe occurs, or even before a plot-progressing event happens.
The combat in Eternights is extremely satisfying. Square allows you to chain attacks, Triangle is for heavy attacks, Circle to parry an attack at the right time, and X allows you to dodge. Furthermore, if you evade an attack at the right time you will be given a short window where time slows down, delivering a chance to go in and deal some damage.
Chaining attacks allows you to build up your elemental meter to perform special attacks.
By pressing L2, you can use any of the four shaped buttons to perform an elemental attack. Enemies will be made of light, fire, ice, or lightning elements so you will need to use the opposite element to break their defenses. You will earn more elements as more characters join your roster.
Holding R1 will allow you to use special attacks, and holding R2 allows you to utilize your friends and the skills they can offer in battle.
All your attacks and attributes to aid you in combat can be levelled up by building relationships with the characters you meet in the game. Depending on your bond level with a character, you can unlock buffs and special skills to help increase your power.
This is not only incredibly rewarding, but it acts as a great incentive to invest your time in these charming characters and learn more about their stories.
If you choose not to fight the forces of evil or have spare time on your hands, you can utilize the time to spend with your confidants or build your social traits. There’s acceptance, confidence, expression, and courage. Each skill is important to build as it provides the opportunity to become closer to your confidants.
Each of these skills naturally increases as you choose from the game’s charming and quirky written dialogue options, or take the time to train these traits.
There will be times when you haven’t spent enough time with these characters to progress in your relationship. You’ll then need to either train with them or go on survival runs. Training with each character offers different mini-games exclusive to their personalities.
Going on survival runs with a character can build specific stats related to them as well as earning points to use to upgrade your skills.
There’s a total of five characters to build your relationship with. There’s Chani who is your best friend and comic relief. Next is Yuna, a sweet and beautiful pop star looking to spread love and happiness. There’s Yohan, a dashing and sophisticated young man who is looking to find himself and make amends with his past.
Next is Sia, a passionate and intelligent girl and science extraordinaire. Lastly, there is Min, a shy, anxious, and incredibly thoughtful girl who comes from a high school running team she stayed devoted to.
The game’s best strength is how well-realised these characters are. With incredible voice acting and unique personalities, these characters are brought to life in a way that you can easily empathise with.
As your relationship with them develops you have the option to romance one of them, or all of them at once, providing some raunchy moments every time.
A Puzzling Dilemma
Eternights is a visually charming game. The art style offers a vibrant setting and the anime-inspired design allows the characters’ expressions to really reflect how they feel, allowing the player to experience a range of emotions such as laughter, sadness, and happiness.
Some areas on the other hand are dull and lifeless. Had the developers added a little more detail and light to these bland sections, they could add a bit more life and express the tone of the environment more efficiently. The lack of music during gameplay doesn’t help matters either.
With all that Eternights does well, there are some noticeable flaws that hold the game back and hurt the pacing. There are some decisions made in this game that players will go through which will beg the question, “How on earth did the developers think this was a good idea?”
In some dungeons of the game, you are presented with puzzles to solve in order to progress. Some puzzles are fun and well thought out, while others are an absolute nightmare to get through. One puzzle will require you to line up tiles on the wall to form an image, which could take you up to 10 minutes to complete.
Another is a number-based puzzle where you have to remember the number of steps you need to take associated with a letter that corresponds to a number needed to enter a passcode.
In addition to the puzzles, the game features two sections that attempt to add variety to the game. The first one is you have to carry a character due to a broken ankle, making your way to escape.
You are required to sneak past enemies in a 2-D level where sometimes dying could mean restarting from an unforgiving checkpoint. The layout of this section is very similar to games such as INSIDE or Little Nightmares.
Next, you are required to chase after an enemy on a motorcycle. This takes inspiration from Final Fantasy VII: Remake as you ride a motorcycle in a tunnel avoiding hazards. In Eternights, it is made all the more frustrating as you have to avoid hazards and shatter walls and obstacles with the Square button; if you get hit once, you have to start all the way from the beginning.
With a game that has a great gameplay loop in fantastic characters to build relationships with and satisfying combat, having to go through these sections hurts the pacing of Eternights exponentially. You will often find yourself yearning to spend time with characters or engaging in battles.
Still, as great the combat can be, it’s marred by clunky and unresponsive controls. There is so much of a delay between button inputs and response times that you as the player will often fail a dodge. You have to wait until an animation is completely finished before you can do another action. This can be very frustrating as the game requires the player to react rapidly.
In the endgame, you will have little to no room to dodge attacks or execute commands as they can be interrupted at any time by the many enemies the game throws at you. There was so much happening on screen that it gave you little to no time to react. If you did react, it’s most likely too late.
The game doesn’t register your action fast enough. You will also face enemies that attack faster than you, only providing a split-second moment to evade or dodge.
If you miss a dodge or parry and get hit, you cannot dodge the next incoming attack until you have completely recovered. This makes timing your dodges and attacks very frustrating as the enemies’ attacks are faster than the animations and response time of the player.
There were times when I was down on the ground, enemies ganged up on me and attacked one by one, preventing me from doing anything at all.
Thankfully these flaws do not take away from the overall experience of this game. If you can stick through these shortcomings, you will be promised a fantastic, emotional journey within this narrative.
Another Solid RPG For The Year
A game that takes inspiration from Persona and mixes it with real-time combat makes for a wonderful package in Eternights. The infusion of building yourself by engaging in relationships with others that unlock skills and buffs makes for a really rewarding and purposeful gameplay loop.
Providing you with the opportunity to build relationships and romance with some of the most heartfelt, charming, emotional, and passionately written characters, Eternights is one of the best RPGs you will have the pleasure of experiencing this year.
Review code kindly provided by the developer.