Also on: PS4, PS5
Publisher: Studio Sai
Developer: Studio Sai
I know what you’re thinking: Japanese teens, end of the world, demons, etc: we can just call Eternights a Persona clone and be done with it, right?
Yes and no. While there’s no denying that Eternights owes a huge debt to the Persona series – and you could certainly reduce it to that if you want to be extremely reductive – it’s a lot more than just that. It has a wider range of influences, and it melds them together in a package that gives the game an identity all its own.
Of course, any discussion of Eternights has to begin with the fact that it’s basically a dating sim – possibly the most action-packed, violent dating sim you’re ever likely to play, admittedly, but a dating sim nonetheless. The core of the game is that you’re building relationships with your five companions, and deciding who you want to romance is just as important as saving the world and clearing out dungeons. While the writing tends more towards the juvenile, with plenty of innuendo and double-entendres and jokes about porn, the game does a solid job of building up the characters around you into somewhat interesting people, while also giving you enough dialogue options to allow you develop your character how you want.
It’s also a bonus that Eternights has a bit of a sense of humour. I wouldn’t describe it as hilarious or anything, but the dialogue has jokes and moments of levity that help it feel a lot less overwrought than many of the games it’s inspired by. Your mileage will vary, of course, but I think the game does a good job overall of balancing the serious with the ridiculous.
As noted above, of course, what sets Eternights apart from plenty of other games with a heavy emphasis on romance and relationships is that it’s also a hack & slash dungeon-crawler. It can feel like a bit of an abrupt tonal shift to go from wooing someone to hacking away at deformed monsters, but the incongruity is part of the fun, too. It’s kind of neat to go from deciding how you want to flirt with someone one moment to figuring out your timing for a dodge and attack the next.
Mind you, the action definitely starts feeling a little repetitive after a while. While the importance of dodges and QTEs mean that the combat never feels totally stale or like something you could do on autopilot, at the same time, after a couple of dungeons you’ll definitely feel like you’re just hacking away at the same drones to kill time before getting to the much more skill-based boss fights, where your charged attacks and well-timed parries actually feel like you’re achieving something. As someone who prefers real-time action to turn-based combat, I liked it, but it’s worth noting that Eternights can feel a little repetitive.
On the whole, though, Eternights feels like a fairly original game. It’s always nice to see a game try out some new genre combinations – and, as this shows, it’s especially fun when the game in question mostly pulls off the combo.
Studio Sai provided us with an Eternights PC code for review purposes.