Review: Eternights Relies Too Much on Derivative Ideas

Eternights is the prime example of taking so many ideas from other games that a title loses some of what makes it special in the process. As a result, it fails to live up to its promise. I was originally excited for this game, due to its indie take on the Persona formula of dating the party members you fight alongside. To the game’s credit, it certainly full-on into this idea of being an indie Persona, which is a welcome change of pace in this huge break between Royal and a presumed Persona 6. That said, what it offers is a bit problematic and not the most enjoyable experience.

At the start of Eternights, you play as a protagonist who finds himself suddenly thrust into the apocalypse when all he wanted to do was go on a date and find the love of his life alongside his best buddy. This abrupt premise happens so fast that it loses some of the believable parts. It instantly escalates from zero to 100 in intensity. Before you know it, the unreachable singer you were watching on TV at the start of the game is a party member within a span of 10 minutes. That is a problem with much of the story in Eternights, which is either forgettable or downright rushed when it matters.

Screenshot by Siliconera

To its credit, the plot isn’t the most important part of the Eternights experience. What truly matters are the gameplay and characters. When it comes to the former, I’ll be the first to admit this is the greatest departure for the game compared to Persona. Ironically, it’s why it is an issue.

Instead of copying its inspiration for a turn-based combat format, Eternights is a hack-and-slash action-RPG more in the vein of something like Tales of Arise or Nier Automata. You have a couple of buttons to press to slash at enemies, a button for dodging, and some skills you can occasionally use. These are all the usual features for a game like this, but the implementation leaves something to be desired. Fighting is a bit slower than I’d like and not as deep as it could be. Worse still, I’m not sure who decided to map the dodge button to the X button on PS5 without an option to change it, but that was a mistake.

Screenshot by Siliconera

While I could be fine with the monotonous combat in Eternights, the enemies make it worse. The difficulty ranges considerably and without warning. Most of the time, the game is extremely easy. You’ll slash through foes without much thought. However, it will randomly spike out of nowhere. This usually comes from larger enemies with specific attack patterns you need to dodge or die. However, unlike other action games with similar strict mechanics like Elden Ring, the enemies rarely follow meaningful or memorable patterns. The window of time to dodge is far too brief and random to react. This creates an oddly disparate difficulty balance between the far-too-easy normal enemies and the occasionally unfair bosses. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the highly repetitive break system you need to use to get far enough in these larger fights. Again, if there was anything Studio Sai should have taken from its sources of inspiration, it should have been a turn-based system.

Exploration in Eternights is not that intriguing, either. It mostly involves going through the same linear corridors in each dungeon and area. Not to mention it is lacking substantial hub locations. Also, while I could get around the combat some of the time, puzzles were my worst enemy in this game. Many of them are fairly simple and would require the player to do something like turn all squares green without touching a previous one, and then return to the starting spot all in the same go. The only problem with this was a single mistake meant a total restart, which became annoying the deeper the puzzles got.

Screenshot by Siliconera

While I didn’t have a ton of fun with Eternights‘ gameplay, I at least appreciated the characters. You have a few core allies you’re able to romance in and get to know on a deeper level. This works similarly to Persona 5 Royal, where you have a day and night portion of each day. You can choose how to spend that day, such as training a certain skill or spending time with a companion.

Your schedule is limited, too, since you typically have a core objective you need to complete. If you don’t complete it in time, it is game over for you. This system is one of my favorite parts of the Persona series, and the concept transfers over relatively well in Eternights. I had the most fun in this game when I was managing my calendar and figuring out how to max out my social stats so I could wife up Yuna. It helps, too, that there are some fun side activities like a dancing minigame, when doing so.

Screenshot by Siliconera

It is in these social aspects that the ideas of Eternights start to shine, even if it is a bit too derivative and occasionally shallow. I only wish the combat and exploration nailed this aspect as well. The game could have been so much more.

Eternights will be available for PS4, PS5, and PC on September 12, 2023.

The post Review: Eternights Relies Too Much on Derivative Ideas appeared first on Siliconera.

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