The Eternal Cylinder. No, I’m not talking about one of those stupidly large Starbucks coffees, but instead an action and adventure game with a focus on surviving a big, bad, alien world. Of course, we gave our verdict on the game back in 2021 as it first released, so why are we doing so again, I hear you cry. Well, as it happens The Eternal Cylinder has undergone (the now commonplace) optimisation for Xbox Series X|S as part of its anniversary update.

For the unfamiliar, The Eternal Cylinder tells the story of a family of tiny adorable creatures called the Trebhum. They find themselves alone and surrounded by dangers on a strange but lush planet. They set out trying to discover how to reach safety as well as find out what came before. Alongside the many threatening indigenous creatures, there’s another issue. The titular cylinder itself.

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There’s something rather sinister about a huge glowing rolling pin which steadily flattens anything it comes into contact with. Completely devoid of any sort of identifiable features, personality or motives, it continually pursues you throughout the game. It appears, however, that there may well be something lurking on the other side…

Let’s be clear, The Eternal Cylinder has always been a game that has looked absolutely beautiful. An eye-popping, vivid colour palette has been liberally splattered across the environment, stretching as far as the eye can see. From the very first second you are surrounded by all sorts of weird and wonderful vistas, populated by strange plants, structures and wildlife. At first sight the creature design instantly brought back memories of Spore, a game I seem to remember being hailed as the next big thing; a game that ultimately fell somewhere short of that.

Optimisation means Xbox Series X owners can choose between 4K or ray tracing modes from the settings, but the latter isn’t available for those with an Xbox Series S. These options bring a real crispness to the exotic planet, and I can’t stress enough just how stunning The Eternal Cylinder looks. This isn’t simply a case of graphical fidelity, but a pairing of this and bucketloads of creativity covering pretty much every aspect of the game. It was only very occasionally let down by some horrendous lag for short periods of time when a lot was happening on screen.

It’s not just a looker either, The Eternal Cylinder sounds just as impressive. This is down to two elements. Firstly, the soundtrack. It’s a beautiful suite of music that conveys pretty much every emotion that your little Trebhum are exhibiting in perfect synchronicity. Whether that’s fear, uncertainty or battling for survival, the mood is nailed every time. 

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The other is the narration. It’s one of the oldest methods of storytelling, but can also be the most impactful. Here, we are treated to the wonderfully powerful voice of Peter Hayden (yes he was in that Power Rangers film a few years ago). He assumes a companion role, sometimes offering advice and insight into events that have come before, whilst simultaneously telling the story. His voice adds a certain gravitas to the mystery surrounding you in The Eternal Cylinder, as well as offering comfort in the face of many perils. It’s rather soothing actually.

It may seem that the odds are severely stacked against the Trebhum, but they do have a very useful trick up their sleeve; the ability to mutate. In an almost Kirby-esque fashion, they can use their little trunks to absorb all sorts of ingredients to change their physiology almost instantaneously. It’s this which acts as the main gameplay mechanic in The Eternal Cylinder, tasking players to adapt to their surroundings to survive in all sorts of ways. Temperature regulation, resistance to environmental hazards and warning off predators are just a few ways for the Trebhum to hold out in this hostile world. The anniversary update also adds two new creatures to be wary of, the Buddugh Gropp and the Gharukuk, along with a new fire breathing mutation.

These are creatures with a herd mentality, sticking together to improve their odds. The AI can be a little iffy sometimes, with you having no ability to control your gang of Trebhum. They just automatically follow you, but sometimes get a little stuck. On one occasion, a party member decided to stand on some molten rock and slowly cook itself to death. Not a great decision in all honesty.

You will come across eggs which need heating to be hatched, alongside protective pods which can only be opened with the required materials. As you grow your party, energy, food, water and health needs all have to be managed. Usually, this is done by harvesting the necessary ingredients, and a log is kept of what you discover for future reference. There are also loads of mutations for you to discover that can make the process much easier.

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It’s pretty straightforward to ensure you keep the party’s stats healthy, energy being particularly important as this allows you to roll. When the cylinder gives chase (usually when you break its forcefield), rolling to the next tower is the only way to get there fast enough. You can view the party from the start menu, however it’s not easy to track which mutations each Trebhum has active. It’s left to the keenness of your eye to physically spot the changes they have undergone, rather than viewing a handy list of them. It’s a very minor niggle and a potential tweak for a game that works really well overall. As the story develops, the gameplay does too in ways I won’t spoil here. 

My only other niggle is one that remains from our original review. The camera. It remains fiddly and can sometimes swoop around to very unhelpful angles, which means it’ll take a lot of corrective action from the player. Put into context I think it’s a very minor issue but certainly a necessary tweak for any future updates. 

I could wax lyrical for many thousands more words about the different things I love about this game. However, as discovery is such an important part of The Eternal Cylinder you are best heading out there and finding out for yourself.

I absolutely adore The Eternal Cylinder, even more so now it has been optimised for Xbox Series X|S. Many games attempt to be bold, creative and offer an experience unlike any other. This is a game which does just that. You’ll struggle to find escapism better than this. 

The Eternal Cylinder is available on Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store

The Eternal Cylinder. No, I’m not talking about one of those stupidly large Starbucks coffees, but instead an action and adventure game with a focus on surviving a big, bad, alien world. Of course, we gave our verdict on the game back in 2021 as it first released, so why are we doing so again, I hear you cry. Well, as it happens The Eternal Cylinder has undergone (the now commonplace) optimisation for Xbox Series X|S as part of its anniversary update. For the unfamiliar, The Eternal Cylinder tells the story of a family of tiny adorable creatures called the…

Pros:

  • Striking visuals
  • Epic narrative storytelling
  • Varied mutation system
  • Wonderful creature design

Cons:

  • Party management could be improved
  • Fiddly camera

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Good Shepherd Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 13 October 2022
  • Launch price from - £23.49
TXH Score

4.5/5

Pros:

  • Striking visuals
  • Epic narrative storytelling
  • Varied mutation system
  • Wonderful creature design

Cons:

  • Party management could be improved
  • Fiddly camera

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Good Shepherd Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 13 October 2022
  • Launch price from - £23.49

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