Eternights: Cold feet, hot dates
Who doesn’t know it? Your best friend persuades you to finally give online dating a chance.
Love, as we all know, is like a blazing fire, and anyone who wants to ignite their heart or get their fingers burned likes to turn to a dating app these days. That’s also the case for the two young men I met on the Eternights at the beginning: The nameless protagonist and his best friend Chani seem to have had no luck in their circle so far, which also explains the box of “good old” handkerchiefs obviously placed on the desk. So without further ado a dating profile is createdbecause the two of them obviously fancy their chances better if they throw themselves into the gigantic virtual sea, in which not only plenty of fish but also potential hooks cavort. Surprisingly, the first sense of achievement follows on its heels in the form of an enigmatic lady who wants to seduce me with the dubious prospect of naked pictures and a date.
Even though it looks like this security guard just came out of the gym, he’s actually turning into a bloodthirsty monster.
Before I get to the bottom of it the next day, I first travel to the realm of dreams, where, after a disturbing cutscene, a Battle system tutorial expected. However, I won’t go into that until later, because the instructions for the hack-and-slash battles would be just as out of place here as they are in the game: far too early and without context, while the story, which has only been hinted at, must first unfold around me. The agreed date falls through, not because the mysterious woman has stood me up, but because a gigantic purple wall appears out of nowhere and the majority of humanity has turned into a “ghost”. murderous monsters transformed.
Together with my best buddy, I take refuge in a bunker, where we meet two young women. As luck would have it, one of them is the famous pop star Yuna, who joins our little group without further ado and surprisingly has very practical healing abilities. On the run from the mutated humans, we are suddenly confronted by a hostile, but apparently still lucid lady with a Darth Maul-like double sword and cuts off my arm with a swingonly to transport me just as abruptly into a dream world in which I sit opposite the faceless woman from the dating app in a rowboat. She, in turn, rambles something about my task as a hero, the save the world and must suffer immeasurably in the process, from architects, umbra and THE STONE, which obviously must be enormously important if it is already introduced with a jammed caps lock key.
Umbra here, saving the world there: It’s hard not to switch off immediately with this load of information.
Before I fall off the boat and drown in the sea of exposition, the mysterious woman then sends me back to reality and gives me a Replacement arm, which I hope isn’t just glaring because I’ve been using the tissues on my desk too often. A few dramatic action scenes later, Yuna, Chani and I have made it onto a train that represents the last bastion of humanity as well as the game’s hub, and from which the trio is now doing everything they can to destroy the purple wall and stop the apocalypse in order to return to normality. This lays the foundation of Eternights’ story, which isn’t particularly original, but is nevertheless entertaining, and after the extremely linear intro the game finally gives me the reins and the promised gameplay mix of dating sim and dungeon crawler.
Calendar getting to know
Let’s start with the Visual Novel aspect of Eternights, because what does saving the world mean when there’s finally a chance for a fulfilling love life? But because the apocalypse has of course left its mark, the selection of potential dating partners surprisingly small, although remarkably more progressive than in the aforementioned original Persona. Besides the pop starlet Yuna, the scientist Sia, the athlete Min and the immortal Yohan are also ready to hold hands or exchange moist lip service in the midst of the apocalypse.
Moderately motivating mini-games: For successful squats, I have to press the four buttons in time.
Your free time is, how could it be otherwise, with the help of a Calendar system divided. During the day, you can spend time with one of the four romantically interested characters or your trusty wing-man Chani and deepen your relationships, which takes place via dialogues or short battle excursions, the latter of which play out like mini-versions of the main missions. The increasing bond level improves your chances in love and lets your companions learn active abilities or passive bonuses that will benefit you when fighting monsters.
In the evening, meanwhile, you’re free to increase one of your four social stats, train your status stats for battle, or scour the ruined city in search of a helpful item to not only boost your team members a joybut also to sharpen your combat skills once again. Unfortunately, the latter sounds more exciting than it is: You decide to visit either the library, the warehouse or the supermarket, and you’ll have to interact with glowing spots there to find the item you want.
Spending time with your potential partners will not only prepare the ground for a successful relationship, but also for more efficient monster slaying.
Because the collection seems arbitrary, it’s pure trial-and-error at the beginning. At least the locations remain the same, so with a bit of memory practice you’ll quickly figure out where things are. The other mini-games, such as cataloging red and blue cells or controlling your breath by alternately pressing and releasing the X button, are also lame attempts at providing gameplay variety. Fortunately, a large part of these activities are either optional or at least only take up a fraction of the game’s duration, and thus remain unspectacular, but harmless.