From here to Eternity!
What has four legs, is notoriously difficult to catch and has a massive horn? No it isn’t Trump and Putin on a dirty weekend, thanks for that mental image! It is in fact the legendary beast that spawned a hair trend, millions of cakes and a Starbucks Frappuccino which was essentially diabetes in a cup.
Yes I’m talking about unicorns. The majestic creature of myth and fantasy, now reduced to fluffy slipper form, or being the mount for a cat in Trials Fusion. Thankfully the inclusion of a unicorn in Eternity: The Last Unicorn is somewhat more dignified. Although it is a bit wounded and has broken its horn. Stop smirking!
It’s your job as plucky elf Aurehen to save your unicorn friend Grani from a terrible horn shattering curse and return its lost power so the rest of elfkind doesn’t have a panic attack about losing their immortality. Typical elves, right?
Now I’m a huge fan of big fantasy RPGs. From Skyrim and Dragon Age to the much-maligned Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, I can’t get enough of getting up to elf-based shenanigans. So, I was very much looking forward to this Norse inspired romp.
Initially I felt a bit let down by the absence of a character creation system, as there’s nothing I love more than whiling away the hours creating the perfect face that will never be seen again, but I begrudgingly accepted my default character model and carried on with my adventure.
Then I felt quite a lot let down.
Eternity: The Last Unicorn is described as “a full-featured action RPG inspired by tales from Norse Mythology with classic game mechanics”. This as it turns out means fixed camera, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when combined with the game’s chosen fighting mechanic what you end up with is a sort of unholy offspring of Dark Souls and early Resident Evil but with a Lionshead Studio’s Fable makeover.
Thankfully the Unreal 4 engine is much more refined than its predecessors so you’re no longer constantly distracted by massive hands, but this bright and beautiful aesthetic does little to cover the scars of what is essentially a Frankenstein’s monster of a game.
Eternity cherry-picks elements of other games and smashes them together, but like tuna and chocolate sauce it’s not a good mix. The fixed camera is a huge obstacle and often leads you having fights off-screen, getting trapped behind the environment or other enemies which leaves you guessing over what you’re actually hitting. This makes boss fights exercises in sheer irritation. Imagine trying to fight Gehrman the First Hunter or the Fume Knight with a fixed camera and you’ll understand why I nearly threw the towel in early on!
At least you don’t have to worry about stamina management in this game, and you can hack and slash away to your heart’s content without getting tired. However, like the Estus Flask or Blood Vials, you need items to heal and in Eternity you rely on herbs. These are of course special elf herbs and very clearly legally distinct from green, red and blue herbs!
I’ll admit the outright plagiarism made me chuckle as faintly familiar red writing would inform me that I’d died or defeated an enemy and I genuinely couldn’t stop laughing when I found my first bonfire to save progress at. Most of the time though I would have rather played the games Eternity was borrowing from.
There are so many frustratingly bad things about this game. Levelling for example is done to you, and as such feels a bit arbitrary and pointless. You gather XP through killing mobs and you get a nice big announcement when you’ve levelled up but there are no points to put into certain attributes, no skill trees, just a character screen where you can see that your stats have gone up by all of one point each. This lack of customisation made me feel constrained and annoyed that points were going to things like poison resistance and crafting chance automatically. Instead I would have preferred a pool of points you could distribute how you wanted.
The crafting aspect of the game is also frankly pointless. I’d been picking up materials from fallen enemies and chests to the point where I had enough goblin ears to make some very macabre bunting, but you can’t self-crafting items. The only way you can craft anything is when you meet a tree-centaur. However if your crafting chance isn’t sufficiently high enough you will fail to make the item and lose all the resources in the process.
There is also a fairy called Elora who can upgrade your weapons provided you have a number of Gungnir stones and crystal shards. As an elf these stones were pretty hard to come by, although you could craft them if you had the materials and a path back to the tree-horse. This left me with a huge level disparity. My character was level 15 by the time I could upgrade my weapons to an outstanding level 1.
So I decided to go on the grind and once I’d opened the portal back to the starting area I grinded a lot to level up and get more resources to upgrade my weapons. This was also because boss number four Ulfrstorr the wolf is a god damn nightmare! He insists on maintaining eye contact throughout like a very awkward date, so no amount of dodging or rolling can get you behind or even to the side of the damn dog as it always orientates itself pointy end first like a hyperactive compass.
After multiple deaths I grinded my way to level 23 and it still wasn’t enough. Despite feeling like fully rage quitting I continued to grind and finally took the damn dog down at level 33 before my character fainted and I went back to playing the B plot character Bior the Viking.
I’d already tinkered a bit with Bior earlier in the game and while he has slightly more attack and defence, there isn’t a huge amount of difference in the fighting style and his shield is apparently for decoration as you can’t parry or block with it. At the moment it feels like the game is more geared to Aurehen being the main protagonist with Bior’s sole purpose being unlocking doors or routes so that she can progress.
Going back to Bior after my wolfie victory really hammered home the ridiculous levelling system, as Bior was just a mere level 6 at this point and was then hurled straight into a boss battle of his own with a surly Valkerie. This battle in comparison with Ulfrstorr, however was an absolute cakewalk!
Despite sinking a fair few hours into this game I think I’m done with tuna and chocolate sauce and I’d rather just play BloodBorne, relishing in the free camera movement and dramatically panning round my hunter like a hyperactive Michael Bay.
The game itself is pleasing to look at, but Eternity is a game with a bit of an identity crisis. There’s nothing new about, or wrong with taking inspiration from other games, but with Eternity it’s a bit too obvious in places. It wants to be so many things and doesn’t quite hit the mark on any of them.
The Norse mythology doesn’t really add anything to the game, unlike God of War where characters and legendary tales had an integral part to the plot, in Eternity it feels a bit bolted on and that the game could have taken place literally anywhere without much consequence.
Aside from my fixation on fixed cameras, there are so many other little gripes like un-skippable cut scenes or a map screen that serves no purpose, that while minor continue to add up to what is a quite poor gaming experience. Overall Eternity I’m not angry with you, I’m just disappointed.