I’ll save you some trouble, Eternity: The Last Unicorn is a bad game. It’s not a complete disaster, but its clear lack of ambition and refinement put it firmly in the squandered potential bin. The game’s rather loose and dull story centers around Norse Mythology, an aspect of storytelling that’s worked many times before for several other developers. Here, the whole thing just comes across as boring, lackluster, and bluntly forced; all presented in text-boxes that fail to deliver any oomph. Shame, really, because on paper is sounds interesting.
The game tells of a realm in which pure blood elves are the keepers of the four sacred unicorns, and with these unicorns, the elves are invincible. Naturally, with a setup up like that, anyone would be sitting pretty. Unfortunately, however, the elves discover one day that the unicorns have gone missing. Thought to have lost everything, one unicorn is discovered with a broken horn, but it’s trapped and cursed by the spell of some evil witches. It now falls to the young elf Aurehen to save the Elvin race and in effect, their treasured immortality.
Running alongside Aurehen is Bior, a viking that’s seeking out his lost comrades. It seems like an unlikely duo on paper, though in truth, it’s hard to really gauge any meaning from them. That, of course, and the lack of player attraction to these protagonists just doesn’t help. I didn’t particularly care for them starting out, and I cant say that I cared for them several hours in when the game forces a swap. The game would have greatly benefited from more depth here, or at least more effort spared into pulling its players towards actually giving a toss about who they’re playing with.
Whatever the case, that’s the general premise. It never really evolves into anything interesting outside of that. The game gives you a brief yet informative tutorial to feed you into the basics of play, however, it’s here where you’ll stumble upon the game’s first few issues. Firstly, the controls are pretty loose and you’ve a tendency of getting stuck either on, or in the map. Secondly, the game sports a fixed camera. That’s not a bad thing in itself, hell, any given classic Capcom game will attest to that, but here, it’s horrendously obscuring and very counter intuitive.
What’s especially irritating is that the controls alter with the camera, forcing you to constantly realign the handling when the camera shifts to a new position. Sure, we’ve had to endure these design issues in the past, but here, it happens that frequently that it borderlines on headache inducing. Had the developer spent more time focusing on when transitions happen, this may not have been that much of an issue. Sadly, however, as it stands, you’re likely going to need to call upon the warranty of your controller. No, I don’t exaggerate.
I appreciate that the developer has gone for a nostalgic approach, but if anything, Eternity: The Last Unicorn serves as a stark reminder as to exactly why we’ve evolved with the times. The whole ordeal just feels like a relic in a modern age, from its issues above, right the way up to its basic level-up structure and beyond. The game plays out like a classic RPG, and by classic, I mean overly traditional; skill trees and new unlocks, both of which are about as basic as they come and rarely get interesting at all. Furthermore, there’s so much travelling to do.
You’ll constantly be back and forth between areas that are devoid of detail and decent texturing. Breaking this all up? Loading screens that would put Duke Nukem Forever to shame. Sure, there’s some snippets of intel to read as you wait for your next birthday to come around, but much like anything else here, it’s not at all worth soaking up. Progress really depends on how much attention you pay to the game’s NPCs. There’s a few of these that directly inform you as to where you need to be heading, but the majority of NPC guidance is painfully vague.
Throughout your adventures you’ll come across a (admittedly commendable) variation of enemies, but even these bring more trouble than they’re worth. Enemies spawn in on odd seals that appear on the ground, which is fine, but what isn’t fine is how many of them are able to start kicking the shit out of you before you can even fully see them and realistically react. Despite the impressive diversity of enemy variants, they’re all cheap and tacky in the grand scheme of things, and can be fairly easily circumvented throughout the entirety of play.
Remember the classic exploits us older gamers could utilize, through making an enemy run to the end of their paved script? That’s present here. It’s quite jarring watching an enemy give chase for them to then stop still as if they’ve hit an invisible barrier, but they all do it, and you’re free to use this to your advantage. Combat is straightforward and to the point; light attacks, heavy attacks, and a dodge mechanic will be what you make use of the most. The drawback, however, is that framerate issues persist when even a moderate amount of action is on screen.
I couldn’t tell whether the hit detection was off, or whether the game’s poor optimization made it seem that way, but regardless, it’s not at all fun. I cant even commend the game’s boss encounters, which for a game such as this, should certainly have been a high point. You’ll know when you’re toe to toe with a boss via being encased in a small area that you can not escape from. Once again, this is a trait of the oldies, but here, it utterly fails to excite. Bosses are far too easy to suss out and overcome, simply due to their weak attack and movement depth.
Dead enemies will often drop health items that are displayed as green crystals, as well as currency that is displayed as red crystals – handy for purchasing items or upgrading weaponry. Outside of that, you’re likely to see the occasional drop of loot; mainly consisting of crafting materials or herbs that you can use in one form or another. Crafting is another hit and miss mechanic that doesn’t really offer any solid consistency. Further to that, you’ll come across missions that require that you craft something, but offer no prompt as to where resources are at.
If that wasn’t tedious enough, there’s only a few places in which you can craft, so if you need something in particular, you’ll need to rely on more of that lengthy travelling. To the game’s credit, its UI is actually pretty spot on; giving you instant access to all of those RPG-central functionalities that you’ll use on the fly – weapon swapping, healing, temporary buffs, and so forth. It’s all standard wares at the end of the day. I can say the same about the game’s save system. Upon death, you can reload a checkpoint or boot up your last save file.
You’ll be given a checkpoint quite frequently, which is never something to scoff at in an RPG, but saving is an entirely different beast. To save, you’ll need to find a fire. The kicker? There’s usually a range of different enemies surrounding said fires. This means that if you need to save but you’re low on health and without any item-aid, you’re shit out of luck. It’s pretty unforgiving on this front. That being said, if you gel with this structure from the get-go and always ensure that you’re prepared, it should offset much of that frustration. Rule of thumb, don’t travel light.
Much to be expected from an RPG, you’ll come across chests, hidden areas, and quite a few secrets. There’s not a great deal of variation on this front, but enough to bolster its longevity a short amount. I cant say I found the drive to explore the game as deeply as I could have, but in fairness, the game hardly makes the effort to entice exploration. In fact, I found myself willing the next boss fight to pop along just so I could progress and get a freaking move on. Nevertheless, if you find value in Eternity: The Last Unicorn, you’ll no doubt enjoy diving deeper into its world.
In regards to the game’s world, it’s a very colorful one, but one that lacks good quality and overall refinement. I often felt like I was playing a PS2-era game, with bland jittery animations and a complete lack of life further dragging the ordeal down. What’s worse, you’ll frequently have to contend with screen tearing, which only again highlights how poorly put together everything is. I cant even commend the game’s audio design, being that it sounds as good as it looks. Everything just comes across pretty generic. Make of that, ladies and gents, what you will.
The bottom line here is this, and it reflect my opening sentence, Eternity: The Last Unicorn is a bad game. The game’s very few qualities nowhere near offset the game’s many major drawbacks. If you’ve got a deep capacity for forgiveness, and you’re willing to overlook all of its issues, you may pull more from this than most, but in a time in which RPGs are hitting the Xbox Storefront thick and fast, I cannot in good faith advise you to even consider picking this up. It’s lazy, it’s sloppy, it’s buggy, and above all else, it’s as boring as they come, avoid this to avoid disappointment.
The developer should be absolutely ashamed for releasing the game in this state. There’s several faults in Eternity: The Last Unicorn that couldn’t possibly have gone unnoticed during QA. It’s buggy, it’s ugly, it’s boring, and even with its countless issues to the side, it’s got almost no likability. If you’re an absolute sucker for nostalgic RPGs, pick up any recent legacy Final Fantasy title. They’re decades old, and a hell of a lot better than this waste.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.