Every now and then I’ll go to Gamestop, see what Xbox 360 games they have, and buy a couple of the super cheap offerings. I love doing this as it’s a great way to find games that I never had the chance to experience before, while also taking a look at how gaming itself has modernized and evolved over the past decade. Eternity: The Last Unicorn feels like one of those games that I would pick up. It feels and plays like a game lost in time, and while there is a certain charm to that feeling, it doesn’t exactly succeed in many aspects that the developers may have hoped.
The story of Eternity is nothing special. In a world where a curse has killed almost all of the world’s unicorns, it is up to you to find a cure and save the last living one. This sends you off on a globe trotting adventure where you switch between characters to fight goblins, spiders, trolls and more, discovering the cure and ending the curse.
Nothing particularly stands out during your adventure, with there being few notable characters that you meet. And even worse is that you tend to meet these characters multiple times as you traverse the same environments over and over again, all due to the character hopping. And it is this backtracking and repetitive nature of the game that is one of its major issues. It’s also unfortunate that all of the character info comes from your journal and not the characters themselves. See, every person that you meet gets a new entry that talks about their backstories and why we should care about them. And while this is a smaller game than the norm, it is a bit of a shame that none of this is explored during dialogue sections.
As hinted at earlier, Eternity looks like an Xbox 360 game. Most areas in the world look rather poor by today’s standards and unfortunately it doesn’t have the luxury of a unique art style to help carry it through that low graphical fidelity. There are some slight instances where the lighting shines and actually looks slightly impressive, but for the most part there is little to write home about. But while the level of detail may not be the most impressive, especially for something coming out so late in this console generation, it does provide a great amount of nostalgia for the last generation’s games. And whether intended or not, Eternity: The Last Unicorn on Xbox One is a welcome experience.
However, the gameplay also suffers. Both characters that you play as function nearly identically, and each can feel sluggish to control. They come with both a heavy and light attack, both can dodge and build up a special AOE attack, and they both traverse the same environments. Your human male character gets the ability to block as well, but it is never all that useful to use and will often be forgotten about since you only play half of the game with it. The combat itself can be brutally difficult too, but the more you play and the more you learn the enemy attack patterns and animations, the easier it gets; at least with the minions that you encounter often. That’s not to say that there aren’t some questionable deaths where you could swear you were out of range of that death-dealing swing.
The most frequent source of frustration regarding the combat though is in regards to Eternity’s bosses. With incredibly high health pools, and the potential to lock you into a combo that can almost kill you instantly, it is easy to get stuck for up to 15-20 mins trying to get through a battle. And this isn’t a situation like Dark Souls where you’re able to really figure out their attack patterns or learn their weaknesses. The attacks almost seem random and make zero sense as to what you can or can’t dodge.
Something that the game encourages is to grind if you’re left struggling with the combat. This is easy enough to action too – once you load into a new area, all enemies respawn so it’s easy to quickly level up. The issue is that often you don’t feel any more powerful for doing so. You have no control over what points get increased and by how much, and there is a certain level of disconnect that is felt between leveling up and the actual investment in your character as a result. The only time you feel a real increase in power is when you level up your weapon or gain extra health outside of the leveling up system.
The crafting system, which when used correctly can be a great tool to invest the player into the world and their character, feels almost just as under utilized as the leveling system. In fact, the only time you’ll really have to use it is when you are forced to craft in order to progress. And for something that is introduced early on, it is slightly disappointing that it is never really used well.
It may sound like I’m trashing on the game, but while there is a lot that has gone awry with Eternity: The Last Unicorn on Xbox One, there is still some enjoyment to be had. The game is by no means terrible and the main meat – that being the combat – is more than serviceable, and although it is dragged down by some serious issues with backtracking, the world itself can look nice.
Overall though this feels like a frozen relic of the Xbox 360 era. And for the price that might be too steep for what it offers.