Eternights Review – Dates and Dungeons

Published: September 11, 2023 9:45 AM /

Reviewed By:


The main character sharing a kiss from Eternights with the name and review graphic overlayed

Eternights is a game that wears its inspirations on its sleeve. A mix of Devil May Cry, Persona, and a lo-fi dating sim. It's a mix that kind of works, despite some unrefined elements. Our Eternights review continues below.

A group of young adults around a roaring campfire in the middle of an abandoned city from the game Eternights
For some reason, this feels more intimate than normal.

Eternights Review – It's The End of The World As We Know It

Eternights starts with a bang. A company working on an experimental pharmaceutical drug goes critical, kicking off the end of the world. People turn into monsters. Buildings are destroyed. Survivors are running scared.

Thankfully, you have a bit of a fighting chance. After losing your arm in an attack, a mysterious entity gifts you a new one; one that can turn into a glowing sword. Using these new supernatural gifts, you are able to fight back against the monstrous hordes.

This kicks off an adventure where you try to uncover the mystery behind the incident and save the world, all with the aid of several companions (and possible romantic partners) along the way.

If there is one thing that Eternights does well, it is atmosphere. In many ways, the game invokes a quintessential Gen Z attitude toward the end of the world. Everything's falling apart, but there is still a desire for connection and stability.

That yearning is present at all times. From the vaporwave-colored lighting to the minimal soundtrack to the antics of your supporting cast, there's a persistent sense of perseverance through uncertainty.

It is in these quiet moments where Eternights is most effective. Sitting around a campfire playing music with the destroyed remains of the city in the background. Rummaging through an abandoned warehouse for a board game to help pass the time. The list goes on.

The hero fighting a large ogre wielding a maul made out of rebar from the game Eternights
Time to abuse some i-frames.

Eternights Review – Persona May Cry

As for Eternights' core gameplay loop, it will be very familiar to fans of the Persona series.

You have a set number of days to clear a dungeon. You can spend your days and evenings talking with party members, doing side activities, or improving your stats.

Most of these improvements provide benefits in combat suchas dealing more damage or having more health. There are even social ranks assigned to each party member tied to better abilities.

The big difference between Eternights and Persona is that combat is closer to a hack-and-slash character action game. You have light and heavy attacks, a dodge roll, and unlockable special attacks including a parry and a projectile blast.

Your allies don't fight with you but provide special skills on cooldown—these range from healing bursts to protective shields to powerful area-of-effect attacks.

My first impressions weren't exactly stellar. While the fundamentals are present – light and heavy attacks, quick-time event finishers, well-telegraphed attacks, etc. – game feel is off.

Attacks feel weightless. Movement is floaty. And the finisher attacks, while visually decent, lack juice and impact.

The hero slashing through a monster's shield with an energy chainsaw from the game Eternights
Yes, that is a chainsaw.

Compounding this matter are elemental shields. Certain enemies have shields that block damage until you hit them with a certain elemental attack. The idea is that each element in the game has a direct counter, but how this is conveyed is vague and nonsensical.

This leads to fights being more tedious than exciting. In addition to the trial and error of breaking shields, bosses are health sponges. This gets worse in the game's second half with multistage bosses.

Not helping matters are the game's interchangeable environments and forgettable monster designs. As nice as they are, abandoned neon-lit city streets blend together fast.

Yet, I never felt frustrated or bored thanks to one fact: the dungeons aren't challenging.

While there is a ticking clock in Eternights, it feels more like a suggestion. Dying in a dungeon holds no weight thanks to plentiful checkpoints. The dungeons are short, roughly an hour total.

The hero fighting a boss monster with large glowing arms from the game Eternights
Alright, sixth time's the charm.

Any prep you do before entering amounts to incremental bonuses; a bigger axe to cut down a bigger tree.

Occasionally, the game does change its gameplay elements with mixed results. Scripted stealth sections, DDR-style quick-time sequences, and even a motorcycle chase are all present. While welcome, these sections are rough but thankfully short.

A screenshot of a cutscene with the hero and Yohan kissing from the game Eternights
Amazing how quickly I loved this relationship.

Eternights Review – Love Blossoming on the Battlefield

The second half of Eternights' gameplay is its narrative and character stories. Throughout the main story, you will gain six different companions. Each one has their own dedicated story chapter, as well as close social events with your character.

Overall, the main story barely holds together in my mind. While that story starts with technological disaster, it quickly becomes a sprawling mess of supernatural entities, corruption, and various urban fantasy tropes.

If you have a high tolerance for anime, you may not notice these issues. But personally, it made some story turns feel contrived.

Sia and the hero staring at his glowing arm quizzically from the game Eternights
Why is it 'immiting' coordinates? Because reasons?

It is in the character relationships where Eternights comes alive. Character scenes are solidly written, displaying distinct personalities. These relationships are – in a word – adorable.

Notably, the romance options manage to outpace the Persona series in one key area: a gay romance option. The character in question only shows up at the game's halfway point, but his scenes are genuinely touching and intimate.

Yuna, Sia, and the hero looking at a glowing arcade dance machine from the game Eternights
Makes about as much sense as everything else that's happened.

Eternights Review | Final Thoughts

Eternights is a solid entry by Studio Sai. While lacking polish, it's an experience with some novel ideas and surprisingly sweet character relationships. If you can look past some of its rough spots, this action romance title might just win your heart.


Eternights was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 14 hours of gameplay. All screenshots were taken during the process of review.

Review Summary

6.5
Weightless combat and forgettable story aside, Eternights is a solid game of romantic vibes in a crumbling world. (Review Policy)

Pros

  • Absorbing Lo-Fi Atmosphere
  • Entertaining Characters
  • Solid Romance Scenes

Cons

  • Interchangeable Locations and Enemies
  • Weightless, Flat Combat
  • Rough, Unrefined Side Activities.

 

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