A lot of games take inspiration from other games. Sometimes it is subtle inspiration and sometimes the game wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Studio Sai’s Eternights definitely falls into the latter category as it lives and breathes the inspiration it takes from the Persona series. Did Eternights live up to its inspirations and do enough to stand on its own? The answer is it falls into both camps of a bit of yes and a bit of no.
Described as a Dating Action RPG, Eternights takes it Persona style inspiration in everything aside from the actual combat. The game features an in game calendar with activities to do such a visiting dungeons and spending time with your teammates. You spend time with your teammates and form bonds with them which allow for stat increases and new combat abilities. Plus, there are different social stats for you to increase as you choose dialogue and interact with other characters.
As mentioned, Eternights features action based combat with a focus on attacking and dodging enemy attacks while building your gauge of elemental attacks. While there are a few unique abilities your party members can do and add to your repertoire of attacks, you’re mostly just mashing the attack button five times before you and can land a heavy strike on an enemy or land a Deathblow. The elemental attacks you and your party members can do usually deal heavy damage to minor enemies or will break a heavy enemy’s shield if hit with the corresponding element.
However, even with all that, the combat still feels a bit undercooked and repetitive especially as there isn’t a big amount of enemy variety that need to be tackled in different ways. It’s always just attack, dodge, possibly break shield, rinse and repeat for every encounter. Building off the lack of real enemy variety, the level design is mediocre at best. There’s nothing standout about any of the levels and every level is basically a dark and purple environment which you really can’t tell apart from each other even though each level is supposed to their own unique location.
The story of Eternights is your typical anime-esque storyline of teens being thrust into a world ending cataclysm and trying to save the world. The game starts innocently enough with you and your best friends signing up for dating apps before the world goes crazy, you get your arm cut off, and your thrown into the main crux of the story to save the world from being overrun by monsters. Luckily for you, you get a fancy new magical arm that you can use to fight monsters.
Where Eternights really shines is with its characters, writing, and animated cutscenes. Each of the main cast of characters are extremely likeable and have emotional depth to each of their journeys through the story along with their side content when you spend your free time with them. This is also where the dating mechanic shines as you build these relationships throughout their side stories and can finally romance most of the main cast.
Then, you have some beautifully animated cutscenes. Though few and far between, these cutscenes give weight to some important moments throughout the game. What really caught me off guard, and the most surprising thing about Eternights is how funny it is. There’s plenty of comedic dialogue choices for you to choose in conversations. There are comedic moments littered throughout the game such as a moment where the entire party gets clown makeup put on them. Even the animations are hilarious as one character has a completely silly run animation and characters have the wildest facial animations that made me laugh again and again.
The most shocking thing about Eternights is the incredibly brisk pace of the game. Overall, it took about 12 hours to complete the game. It being such a short game really dampens the pace of the story with things happening way too quickly or things being completely glossed over at certain moments in the game. One such being having two member of your team joining in rapid succession. However, the most egregious example was one character being in a full body cast at one point then a few days later the character is completely fine as if nothing happened. This also really makes the in game calendar a moot addition as the game doesn’t take full advantage of having it, and it really feels like an unneeded mechanic.
Overall, Eternights is a good experience thanks to the heavy lifting from the main cast of characters and how comedic the writing can be at times. However, the lackluster combat, mediocre and bland level design, and insanely brisk pace of the game giving the story no real time to develop really brings down the overall experience.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5