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Eternal - Return of the Void Review

  • Zeuzio
  • 03/10/2012 10:17 PM
Zeuzio Reviews: Eternal - Return of the Void (Demo)

The first thing that you'll probably notice when you start up a new game in Eternal - Return of the Void is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. At all. This is a refreshing change of pace, considering many RM games try to take a completely dead-serious route and end up hurting their own creativity and charm because of it. But does Eternal have the charm that it needs to be great? It certainly has a lot of it.

Story - plot, characters, theme

There is no long synopsis or prologue at the start of Eternal. Rather, it starts with a conversation between our very unlucky hero, Nero, and the Elder of a cozy village called Ebon, just one day after Nero's 18th birthday. However, it turns out to be Nero's worst Birthday every, as he has been chosen to be the new courier for his village.

It's much, much worse than it sounds.

Being a courier involves making a trek to the southbound city of Carmine. There, the courier must sell Eon crystals, which are Ebon's major export apparently, and bring back the dough so the town can be supported financially. The catch is, the courier must travel through Ebon Forest, a monster infested area that many previous courier's have died in, to get there. In fact, the town has just come to expect each new courier to die, even going as far as to withheld good equipment because it'd be a waste to give it to someone who's going to die anyway. Nero's luck only gets worse as the plot thickens, and his only trophy for his hard work thus far is a mysterious blade from deep within the forest...

What could possibly go wrong?

Most conversations in Eternal are pretty silly. Anything the Elder says, for example, is either something senile or something to spite Nero. Fortunately, the dialogue is pretty well written and even funny at times. Even simple NPCs usually have something witty to say, which goes a long way in giving life to the world.

As a result of this, however, it's hard to take this game's plot as a whole seriously. The game also raises a lot of questions that conveniently aren't answered, and don't make much sense. Questions such as: If the town needs the money that the courier is supposed to bring in so much, then why are they content on sending incompetent teenagers who, more likely than not, will die?

If you're looking for a game with a serious and epic story, then this game is hard to recommend. If you're just wanting to play a game that isn't afraid to try and make you laugh, then go for it. More than a few chuckles escaped me when I played it, for sure. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's nothing particularly bad either.

Story Pros
- A concise and quick-to-the-point plot that doesn't take itself too seriously
- It has funny and well-written dialogue for the most part

Story Cons
- Some major aspects of the plot don't make much sense, such as why the town needs to send an incompetent courier

Score: 3/5

Gameplay - difficulty, balancing, fun factor

The game doesn't take much time to put you behind the wheel, which is nice. Right after talking with the elder and becoming the new courier, you're left to explore Ebon and the forest. While there isn't a whole lot to see in Ebon, talking to NPCs and doing some tasks such as killing pesky garden-eating rabbits earn you nifty rewards. And you will likely need them.

The first dungeon area in the game, Ebon Forest, is not to be trifled with. Just as the villagers and the elder expected, you'll probably die in there if you're not paying attention or just spamming weak physical attacks. It's all about resource management.

Since enemies don't drop gold, you can't just grind to get all of the items you need. Instead, they randomly drop loot that you can sell for a tiny chunk of change. You can also find money and items in chests, as usual.

You can't rely on leveling up, either, as the benefits are rather small. You also only have one spell--a fire spell--that you must use strategically in order to conserve your items. The inevitable boss fight is also very fun and balanced, and you must use your remaining resources strategically to win.

While it's mostly your fault if you die, there are a few frustrations and quirks that cheapen the difficulty.

Just another random encounter ~ OH GOD WHAT!?

The ATB can be painfully slow at times, which can be bad with large groups of enemies. I also got poisoned a lot. With the only cure being an item, sometimes there was nothing I could do after a few poisonings except limp back to town to rest, consuming precious HP healing items to stay alive as I went.

Oftentimes the only plausible response to battles is to run. While this isn't really a bad thing, it happened a lot in this game. Running when I didn't need to happened a lot as well, since it's easy to do and the rewards for winning battles are often not worth the effort. This is particularly true after the first dungeon, when the battles start to become a bit bland because Nero isn't growing much stronger. I never learned any new skills or found any new party members in this demo, so I never had an opportunity to change my battle strategies to adapt to the new area.

This is the biggest flaw in the gameplay that I've encountered: The battles become boring after a while. The first dungeon is really fun and quite challenging, but the rest of the game fails to spice things up. Considering the length of this demo(about one and a half to two hours), I'd say the game can easily pick itself back up later. If every dungeon later in the game can be like the first, then the gameplay will be something really great.

Gameplay Pros:
- Exploring and talking to NPC's is fun and rewarding
- The first dungeon(which is the bulk of the demo), is pretty well balanced and challenging

Gameplay Cons:
- A slow ATB and high poison rate cause some frustation
- Battles become bland and not worth fighting later in the demo

Score: 2.5/5

Presentation - graphics, sounds, usability

A big problem with the presentation is with inconsistency, particularly with face graphics. While most faces are in the 2k3 RTP style, there are a few that look completely different and are really noticeable. The main character's sprite also sticks out among the RTP NPC's running around everywhere. The maps are pretty good, however, and use some nice tilesets. The forest dungeon has a clear sense of direction while also not being too artificial.

Exploring the very green first town.

Menus and the battle system are all default, so naturally they work pretty well. Monster sprites are recognizable, but they work. Battle backgrounds are a little more iffy. Some are RTP, and some are rips, so styles vary here as well. It's not quite a noticible as the faces, though.

The sound effects are pretty standard. The music mostly works as well, except for--at least for me--the battle music. It's basically a very fast paced song with guitars and Japanese vocals, which gets old very fast.

Another thing that irks me is that there are multiple misspellings. It's very distracting to folks like me who notice these mistakes and constantly want to correct them.

There's really not much else to say about this game's presentation, except that it might be its weakest link, and could certainly use some polish. It's a bit of a shame too, considering the rest of the game has a lot of charm and substance going for it.

Presentation Pros:
- Nice mapping and good use of tilesets

Presentation Cons:
- Some clashing graphical styles, the worst offenders being face graphics
- Slightly annoying battle music
- Multiple spelling errors

Score: 1.5/5


Eternal - Return of the Void can make you laugh with its story and characters, and it can challenge you with its gameplay. This is already an impressive feat in itself when it comes to RPG Maker games, but with a more polished presentation and maybe a little more inspiration, its appeal couldn't be higher. Right now in this early stage in development, however, there are a few hiccups that leave this as a decidedly average, yet still enjoyable game.

Overall Score: 2.5 / 5
Not an official score since this is a demo


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I can defiantly see where you’re coming from
I actually really enjoyed this review. It’s not nearly as negative as I thought it was going to be. 2.5 isn’t bad, it’s about haft way in my book. Besides, now I can see what problems people might be having that I just didn’t conceder. I’d like to address so of these issues now if I may.

The story (unfortunately for some) will get more serious as it continues. About around the time the bad guys show up and kill a bunch of people for little to know reason. I am still going to try to keep thing humorous by making the villains either hilarious and/or awesome as well as plenty of NPC shenanigans and having plenty of horrible things happening to Nero.

I’m glad you fond the battles difficult but bearable, that was I was aiming for. I get what you’re saying not being rewarding enough. I deliberately reduced the effectiveness of level ups to dieter grinding, but a few extra point per level I don’t think would hurt. I’ll also increase the drop rate of some of the items as well as the amount they sell for. Oh and poison is bad because in most RPGs it’s a throw away condition that you can usually ignore. I wanted poison in my game to be an actual threat causing players to go “Oh crap poisoned! Quick someone toss me a Red Herb!” kind of like in real life.

I’ll be keeping the j-pop battle music because it’s something that hasn’t really been used and I like it, but I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I can though give people the option to change the battle music to something more traditional, that way we can have the best of both worlds. It won’t be implemented for a while (I’ll have to find all those battle themes), but It’s something I’ll defiantly start development on.

That leaves the face sets and sprites and unfortunately it’s also the only thing I really can’t do anything about. See I decided when I started the game that everyone was going to have a face and apart from truly random NPCs I plan on sticking to that. So naturally I’m going to require a huge amount of facets that I’ll have to acquire from where I can get them. Same with sprites, as I developed the game I realised I’m going to end up with a bunch of random unique and/or reappearing characters, most of which will demand their own sprite, which again I’ll have to pluck from wherever I can find them. So yeah, the graphics are going to be consistently inconsistent, but I will strive to keep the graphics at a certain quality (good). Besides if the worst anyone can say about my game is the graphics clash I’ve still done a good job.
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