Eternity: The Last Unicorn drew me in with the promise of nostalgia. I saw the graphics and recognized them from other older console games, and I haven’t played a pure RPG for a while, so I thought I’d try it out.
And I was not disappointed. This isn’t your typical RPG-quest-type game where you find yourself happily slicing through hordes of bad guys, casting AOE spells to clear mobs, or acquiring treasure and immediate upgrades to weapons that almost break the game. Don’t let the name fool you, this is a tough game! I found myself dying a lot, especially at first, until I recognized the overall combat strategies.
The graphics, combined with the music and ambiance created an immersive world, which belied the level of skill required to successfully play through this difficult game. The textures, environments, and colors were really quite beautiful. Graphic effects of healing and combat were well done and the sound effects and music were on time with the actions. The map lets you revisit previous locations for experience and part-farming if you want, as well as requiring you to occasionally go back in order to progress the storyline.
Save points took the form of campfires and were spaced far enough apart to make stumbling upon the next one exciting, similar to Dark Souls. Combat was also reminiscent of the franchise. The fights and mechanics were intricate, requiring more than just button-mashing. Healing was also not immediate, and required more than just spamming potions or herbs. Of course, the best method was to avoid the need for healing altogether so you could concentrate on attack-dodge-attack combat and searching for patterns in the enemy’s tactics. I more than once had to step away in frustration, not with the game, but with my own lack of combat effectiveness. The boss fights were challenging but never felt like it was impossible, which delivers the drive to keep trying and get better. At one point, I thought the mechanics were broken due to me taking damage while attacking a boss. As it turned out, no, the game was functioning fine (bad news for me) and I needed to find a way (get good). With a bit of help, I discovered the mechanic that had escaped me and eventually defeated the boss. That is an issue in my opinion. This mechanic (no spoilers, sorry!) is something that made combat much more manageable and should have been revealed early on. But I’ll leave it to the developers to follow up on.
There was little in the way of guidance in combat controls to Eternity: The Last Unicorn. The player is forced to figure out the functionality of certain aspects of fighting, such as the side effects of dodging, status effects, and other essentials. More than once I was left wondering what had killed me, only to go back and find it not happening, and then happening again. Speaking of controls, there was no option to change KBM key-binding that I could find. I know you can adapt to whatever keys are set, but to be most effective (and believe me, I needed all the help I could get!) I’d have loved the option to change these.
The transition/cut-scenes were drawn out. Playing through the first time, the player will want to read this information to understand the whole back story of the characters. However, leaving a ten to fifteen word sentence on screen for too long can break the flow of the game. Some cutscenes offer the option to skip. The cinematic for some of the boss fights were pretty lengthy and could not be skipped. It would have been nice to bypass these and quickly get into combat.
One of the aspects of the game was weapon upgrading and equipment crafting, and there was one point early on in the game where you could do that. But it was only available at a particular NPC you encountered, and I couldn’t find anywhere else to upgrade weapons or craft anything. I had loads of materials but nothing to do with them, and believe me I searched all through the menus and pages.
Most of these issues are probably incidental, possibly due to my own ignorance, but in the almost 20 hours of gameplay, I only made it about a third of the way through the story, if that.
In the end though, I can comfortably recommend Eternity: The Last Unicorn. The game has replayability, is pleasant on the eyes, and is genuinely challenging. I enjoyed getting frustrated, improving my tactics, and finally succeeding. I liked the variety of enemies, and the story was pretty good, even if I didn’t get very far. You can see the Dark Souls influence without question, but (and maybe this is the ambiance talking) it felt distinctly different. Despite some of the minor issues I mentioned, I had a good time playing it.