Look, I’m a sucker for a love story. I also won’t deny that Eternal Hope has charm. It does. Though the entire game is a relatively short experience—a few hours at most. Eternal Hope has enough to keep most fans moving along. Unfortunately, the perplexingly poor controls often distract from the overall narrative. Plus, a lack of depth during the playthrough ultimately characterizes this as more of a story than a game.
The story of Eternal Hope revolves around Ti’bi and his lost love. During a short introduction devoid of dialogue, we get a brief glimpse at Ti’bi as he falls in love with his beloved. She fills a void in his empty, lonely life. Until she dies. Depressing, right? Well, not all hope is lost. Ti’bi is promised that if he can gather all the pieces of her soul, The Soul Collector will resurrect her. The same mysterious figure gifts him a few abilities to make his way through the upcoming dangers.
That’s where the player takes over. We take control of Ti’bi and navigate the dangers of a strange, dark world. Let me make an aside here and give credit to the artistic style here. It’s unique and conjures a innocent yet dark atmosphere to the game. It’s a nice blend of quirky yet ominous. Ti’bi has a few basic abilities. He can enter into the shadow world and interact with previously unseen objects. He can also glide to reach difficult areas. Beyond that, the majority of your navigation is done simply through jumping, pushing, and pulling.
I’m not sure if its the controls or the small bit of inertia that acts upon Ti’bi, but this game gets frustrating quickly. I find myself constantly dying in tedious ways. You die primarily by falling, and the height that damages you is absurd. If you drop from a height of about twice the size of your character, you’re dead. Within the first ten minutes of the game, I’ve died about 15 times just trying to swing off a rope onto a nearby ledge. Ti’bi lets go too early, or I can’t build enough momentum. Whatever the reason, I’m restarting a lot. Even when I get the hang of it, the tiniest of mistakes are punished ruthlessly.
When you couple this with the fact that the checkpoints are oddly spaced out, it gets annoying. At another interval, I jump onto a platform, it bobs into the water for half a millisecond, and Ti’bi is dead. I restart, pressing forward at the loading screen, when the screen pops up, I’m falling to my death. This is the general experience of Eternal Hope. It’s a cutesy game that is fairly relentless. The awkward controls turn a story-forward game into a punishing platformer.
The puzzles are generally nothing to write home about, but they are inventive at times. Eternal Hope shines when it is taking advantage of the shadow world versus tangible world. For instance, as you jump across platforms, you may have to enter the shadow world just to land on an upcoming ledge. The game manages to exploit this ability to great effect. I just wish there was more of it. It might just be coincidence, but the puzzles involving this ability also seem to be the most smoothly designed. I find myself failing because I didn’t anticipate the next move; not because of clunky controls.
I know I’ve said it, but it’s worth reiterating. This game is, at most, two to three hours long. At a price point of around $10, it’s a tough ask for most people. If there was a degree of replayability—maybe a way to achieve alternate endings—I could understand this. But most players are going to be left wanting.
If you go into Eternal Hope with measured expectations, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story, first and foremost. Sure, the puzzles are interesting at times, but the gameplay largely feels like an afterthought. As it stands, Eternal Hope is probably best left to casual gamers who enjoy an atmospheric experience. Inveterate platformer fans aren’t going to find much here except frustration.