I came away from the preview of Eternal Hope with high, well, hopes. While the Xbox release is still a little way out, I got a chance to play through the Steam release and can safely say that it lives up to my expectations.
As a quick recap, we play as Ti’bi, a young boy who has lived a life of loneliness. After meeting a girl one day, his life turns around. I’m reminded during the opening 5 minutes of Disney’s Up – and if you’ve seen that film, you know where I’m headed. A tragedy befalls our new couple and so Ti’bi sets out to rescue her on a promise from an otherworldly figure that he can resurrect her.
What follows is an adventure that is dark, yet also captivating. and really quite beautiful. Limbo is an obvious inspiration, from the stark visuals to the tendency to kill Ti’bi on a whim; much as in that title, there are a plethora of traps that we need to be mindful of, often hidden until it’s too late. An unseen boulder breaks free and rolls down a hill, or a seemingly solid platform falls from under our feet. Eternal Hope isn’t as relentless as Limbo sure, but that almost makes it worse when it does happen. Barely escaped chase sequences are also present, though they don’t feel quite as exact as Playdead’s output. It can be a bit too easy to get stuck on the scenery, or have a jump fail resulting in our being caught.
And while it bears a resemblance visually too, here we have actual colours; the black foregrounds complimented nicely by the bold, bright backgrounds. The latter chapters feature some stunning colour work that really is quite beautiful, and creates an atmosphere that is both warming and yet ominous. We get a clear cut tale here too, and one that isn’t afraid to tug on those heart strings. After the downer of an opener, I didn’t expect sunshine and roses but the lovely artwork and touching interstitial’s do a great job of being both interesting and saddening.
The big hook here is the ability to temporarily move into the Shadow Realm; doing so helps Ti’bi traverse the levels and solve puzzles. While it is a central mechanic, it’s also not used too much. Some areas don’t require any switching, while later areas see the ability removed altogether. I approve of the restraint though, and it kept the puzzles fresh, not resorting to relying on one trick over and over.
Eternal Hope isn’t a long game, but then it doesn’t need to be. I cleared the story in a little over two hours. Some sticking points occurred throughout, where the solution to an area wasn’t overly clear, but for the most part the difficulty is just right. The controls still felt a little slow to respond at times, as I found in the demo, with some jumps missed seemingly against my inputs. It’s not egregious though, and I soon adapted to pressing the buttons slightly earlier than I felt necessary.
It might not live up to its inspiration, but Doublehit Games have gotten pretty damn close. Some slight stodginess on the controls can lead to unwarranted failure at times, but it’s a small slight on an other wise charming, dark, and enthralling puzzle adventure that gives those heart strings a good old tug.
This game was tested and reviewed on PC (via Steam). All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.