Eternal Hope, the debut project from Doublehit Games, first caught my attention for its darkly colorful art style and dedication to minimalism. In the sea of atmospheric 2D platformers that have inundated steam in the last five years, it can be difficult to stand out. While Eternal Hope offers gorgeous visuals, the gameplay falls short of satisfying and leaves it adrift among dozens of similar games. Other games like Neversong, INSIDE, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps attempt to do the same things as Eternal Hope and do them better.
Eternal Hope kicks off with a few slides showing the basic premise of the game. Our unnamed protagonist finds love in a girl named Hope, and they spend many happy years together. One day, an accident causes her death and the protagonist is devastated. He is offered another option, though, by the Keeper of Souls - deliver enough souls to him and he'll release Hope back to the world of the living.
I was actually quite moved by the opening, but unfortunately, none of this pays off in the gameplay. When I was told I'd be collecting souls, I thought this would be a situation where I'd have to kill others to pay for my girlfriend to come back to life - it's an intriguing idea, making the player defiantly declare that the people that are important to them are more valuable than people they don't know. "Collecting souls," however, consisted of walking up to a flower and daintily picking a soul out of it. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
The actual gameplay of Eternal Hope is a simple 2D platformer with some light puzzles along the way. Your one power, besides just jumping and moving things, is bestowed upon you by the Keeper himself - the power to see the other side. Activating this power sees the protagonist don a mask, and for about 10 seconds you'll be able to see An'mu, shadow creatures that inhabit the plane on top of our own. While in the shadow world, the protagonist can platform on their heads and bodies to reach new areas. The 10-second timer forces the player to memorize paths and cross them quickly.
While everything I've said so far is quite positive, it is unfortunately in the gameplay that Eternal Hope finds its damning weakness. The protagonist is clunky and heavy, and platforming never feels good or quite like the player is totally in control. The biggest irk to me was the fall damage problem, which I wouldn't usually expect to be present at all in a 2D platformer such as this. Falling more than 7 or 8 feet in-game causes the protagonist to instantly die. Luckily, checkpoints are very frequent, so this is never too much of an annoyance, but there were segments where I died over and over because I stepped the wrong way off rock and fell 6 feet to my death. Drowning in shallow water was also far too common, and I began to wonder if there was any method to the madness or if I was just drowning for no reason.
I also want to point out the weakness in the companion, Heli. Heli is a Navi-like fairly that appears early on to accompany you, but he almost never speaks and doesn't add anything to the gameplay. I suspect he only exists to make players think about The Legend of Zelda. He has a big character moment near the end, but it just came off as incredibly boring and unearned. The story supplied to me after the opening premise was also lacking, communicated one sentence at a time on stone tablets I discovered. It's also worth noting there are no hidden collectibles in this game, so after 2 hours you're done for good.
Eternal Hope takes itself entirely too seriously, I think. The game is only about two hours long (if you die a good few times as I did), but during the whole thing I was just waiting for something interesting to happen and motivate me to continue. It never did. Overall, I did not really enjoy my time with Eternal Hope. Its bold use of vivid color and unrelenting dedication to minimalism set it apart from other games in the genre, but the boring and clunky platforming hold it back from my recommendation. The atmosphere is nice, the music is okay, and the broad strokes of the story are intriguing, but I wouldn't recommend picking this game up at the full price. If you're dead set on playing it, I recommend waiting on a deep sale. There are some positive things to find in Eternal Hope, but I can't help but feel that it's mostly a remake of Playdead's LIMBO with better visuals and worse physics. It's obvious that this was a passion project, but sometimes passion just isn't enough.
TechRaptor reviewed this game on PC with a code provided by the publisher. Eternal Hope is also available on Xbox One and Steam on both PC and Mac.
- Gorgeous Minimalist Artwork
- Simple, yet Powerful Story
- Forgiving and Frequent Checkpoints
- Platforming is Heavy and Clunky
- Character Dies at the Slightest Misstep
- Unbelievably Short Distance for Fall Damage