Eternights review: Japan gets very freaky after dark

Studio Sai
Studio Sai /

Game: Eternights
Developer: Studio Sai
Publisher: Studio Sai
Platform: Steam (reviewed on), PS4/5, Epic

The life of a single bachelor is daunting. You have to meet new people, leave your house, stop a train from being hacked, lose your right arm, fall in love with a J-Pop artist, transport a seed through hordes of freakish oddities.

Eternights, created by Studio Sai, created an action RPG with dating elements thrown in. You play the dorky, skinny, young adult bachelor who just wants to meet new girls, but this is an anime game so obviously messed up sci-fi hijinks needs to take place. The whole world starts transforming into murdering mutants that cut off people’s right arms.  You and your wingman, Chani, need to find safety in an underground bunker, but you are not alone as you find Yuna, a mega popular pop star, bunking with you. Things get worse as two architects, Umbra and Lux, are fighting for control of a world seed and they need you to finish the mission. If that isn’t enough on your plate, you have to maintain a healthy relationships with everyone you meet.

Eternights is like a sampler plate of Legend of Zelda puzzles, Persona 5 relationships, Resident Evil horror events, and Darksiders hacking and slashing. It doesn’t perfect any of them, but it’s hard to argue that Eternights won’t have something you like.

The anime cel-shaded graphics are clean. You get a lot of neon washed textures over a Japanese metro that is being swallowed by a hellscape. Characters are bright and animated, though they seem a bit minimal in their design. One thing I appreciate as I played this game for 10 hours is that there is no “anime fan service.” This game is trying to tell a story about young adults and not trying to turn anyone into a sex object. You have to like these characters for their personality. I gave Studio Sai mad respect for that decision.

With that said, your character and Chani are total pervs (and we all know that anime needs more of those kind of people). The M-rating is partly based on a lot of sophomoric perv jokes. Chani brings all the essentials to the underground bunker (adult magazines). Your character begs Chani to throw away the weird literature under your bed.  Your arm turns into a blade, but when your character tries to transform it into a carrot it becomes something embarrassing. The jokes add levity to the story, which is trying its darndest to be humorous while all of hell crashes down. This story is what would happen if Seth Rogen directed Hellraiser.

The game sets you up for a wild adventure surviving a demonic invasion with your best friend and a pop star and then the combat comes to play. The key to survival is dodging your enemy’s attack (which creates a bullet time effect) and going in for a slash combo attack. It is pretty easy and fun to dodge an attack. The enemies start to surround you later in the game and you will find yourself dodging all around the room until you can get into bullet time. You also get a special left trigger move where you have to solve a simple quick time event to execute it.  Boss fights are not as stressful as other games in this genre. On the easy difficulty, it was a cinch to break down the boss’ shield with my LT attack and then hammer them with combos. Diehard Souls’ fans will find the difficulty laughable, but I was refreshed at how approachable these tasks were.

As the story goes deeper, you must explore more dungeons where enemies will be a nuisance. Some bad guys need special attacks to break them down, while others are just annoying to hit. Once your life bar goes down in a dungeon, there is only two ways to get back your health: use Yuna’s healing powers or die after the auto-save. Yuna’s healing powers only come when your connection meter is filled up (a meter that has something to do with relationships). This makes healing yourself kind of difficult if that meter is refusing to fill up and you are entering a new battle with 1/4 of your health.

Relationships are pivotal to what you can do on the battlefield. If you develop a romantic connection with Yuna, she will be able to provide more healing powers. If you develop a bro relationship with Chani, then you get more attack and defense assistance. Relationship developing is where you have to be smart. You get limited time to develop a bond with someone before the day ends. In my last save, I had 4 days to stop the train I am on from being hacked by a digital hacking monster, but I also have to complete relationship objectives for Yuna and Chani. As the game progresses you will meet new boys and girls and you will have to choose who you will start a deep relationship with in exchange for combat powers.

Chani and Yuna have a plethora of spoken dialog and that is another bright spot in the game. You don’t have to worry about crunching through text boxes. The screen writer and sound engineer have your back if you like your stories with full dialog. You get all the inappropriate jokes in full stereo.

But combat is not everything in Eternights. This game has every mini-game ever made woven through the story. There are quick button events, running away from bad guys without tripping events, lighting up squares with a ring events, moving puzzle pieces events, and so much more. If you are not fighting or talking than you are doing puzzles. My favorite puzzle has to be a mini-game where you must rummage through a convenient store until you find feminine pads. It’s like a scavenger hunt for the M-rated crowd.

Alas, I found myself groaning inwardly when a new puzzle started. None of the puzzles are unfair or too repetitive, but a part of me thought “Is this the puzzle that is going to make me hate this game?” Fortunately, all the puzzles were not horrible. Not great, but not horrible.

A few things I found that is weird with the animation. After you defeat an enemy with your blade hand they just fall over and fade away. It feels like that is the stand-in animation until the designer comes up with a proper death visual. Same thing with the bosses too, once the boss loses its health then they just disappear and a cutscene opens up. This is a gory monster hunting game so I expected limbs falling off or baddies decomposing in a cloud of blood.

My other gripe is transferring the game from PC to a Steam Deck. I did five hours of gameplay and not a single bit of it was picked up by the cloud. The game works fine on Steam Deck, but my save did not transfer.

Eternights (PC) Score: 7/10

If you want a simple and clean action RPG that loves immature humor and the zombie apocalypse then you should give Eternights a try. It won’t make you delete Resident Evil, Breath of the Wild, Persona, or Darksiders, but there is enough meat on the bone to get this game on sale. Play it for the dark sci-fi story and the fun of playing anime Tinder, but also thank your lucky stars that this game is 1000% less complicated than Kingdom Hearts.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.