Eternights – Review

A fun a game with clear inspirations but clearly has quite a few flaws.

Eternights review cover image
Release Date
September 12, 2023
Studio Sai
Studio Sai
PS4, PS5, PC
Reviewed On
Review Copy Provided By
Studio Sai

You’ve probably heard of Eternights being compared to Persona. It’s a JRPG with dating sim elements, after all. However, Persona fans coming into Eternights with the expectation that it’ll be just like the Persona games might be surprised at some aspects Eternights handles differently. Being the first game from Studio Sai, Eternights is a rather ambitious project for an indie developer.

The premise for Eternights isn’t too far off from the typical save-the-world anime plot. A massively underwhelming and unremarkable protagonist suddenly gets the important task of saving Earth from people being turned into monsters. All the while being surrounded by beautiful girls with different personalities who happen to take a shine to him. It’s post-apocalypse meets romantic comedy.

Eternights Featured Image

Graphically, Eternights is a mess. It felt like the game was using stock Unity assets but what’s interesting is that it becomes gorgeous once it switches to the 2D animated cutscenes. It’s a bit too distracting when one too many assets felt like they were being reused and some of the environment felt rather lifeless.

Character movements were uncanny and janky. It can be distracting to see how the characters move around like dolls. And in many cases, took me out of the immersion. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means but it was difficult to ignore. The camera is also shaking in each cutscene which is an odd design choice that did leave me to feel slightly dizzy.

One of the bigger problems I had with Eternights was with the lighting. The contrast between light and dark areas made it hard to focus. They were either going to be too dark or too bright with no in-between. It wasn’t at all comfortable on the eyes. I could see the neon aesthetic the developers were going for but it’s a case of balancing between the two that’s nonexistent.

This also carries over to gameplay. Enemies often have this red glow before they’re about to attack, giving you the signal to dodge. However, with the special effects you do when attacking, it can be hard to notice this. When enemies blend in the darkness as well as they do, you won’t be able to spot them so easily.

Despite its flaws, combat in Eternights is enjoyable but difficult. Enemies don’t attack one at a time and will pile on you if you let them. Some enemies will be tougher and more aggressive than others. This forces players to prioritize which enemies to take out first and which ones to save their special attacks on once they’ve built up their special moves meter.

Half of Eternights is simply hack-and-slash with many satisfying abilities to use against enemies. Dodging at the last second before an enemy attack slows down time and increases your attack speed, which encourages you to go for a more risky playstyle. It surprisingly works well and feels enjoyable to fight enemies with.

Eternights does feature skill trees which you can further improve upon by collecting White and Black Essence. Black Essence is used for improving your character while White Essence is used for improving your friends’ who have their own. The catch is that you have to decide which of your companions is more worthy of the upgrades.

A lot of the fights in Eternights usually revolve around hitting enemies with your basic attacks to fill up your meter after a perfect dodge then using your special attacks on stronger enemies to take them out quickly. This principle is especially true for boss fights which you can’t even damage until you’ve used multiple special attacks to break its barrier.

The other half of Eternights is a dating sim where you’ll socialize and earn the affection of your five companions. Like Persona, you’re tasked with allocating what you do each day cycle within a given time limit. Go past the deadline and it’s game over.

The dating sim aspects of Eternights are fun. The personality of the characters you bond with is interesting enough that it’s easy to forgive the overall uncanniness of their animations. I found the characters you can recruit to be likable and unexpectedly three-dimensional.

I was a bit skeptical heading into Eternights as first impressions didn’t leave me wanting for more. It starts with you and a friend registering for a dating app while it gives you seemingly nonsensical questions. The problem is that this opening doesn’t really set the pace properly. With two loveless young men one day looking for some before everyone suddenly turns into monsters. The game gives you no indication of who you are or where your place is in this world.

It’s hard to sympathize with the overall goal of saving the world from monstrous freaks when you’re barely attached to anything from the world that’s introduced. This goes doubly so for the unapologetically generic main protagonist whose design is critically underwhelming. There’s much to be desired when it comes to the pacing of the game. You don’t really feel like you belong as much as you feel like a plot device.

The real spotlight of Eternights goes to the girls. There’s the idol character, Yuna, the shy little sister type, Min, and the flirty overconfident girl, Sia. During your free days, you can spend your time socializing with them and even do personal activities for them during the night. Socializing with them isn’t without purpose as increasing their affection for you does carry into combat where they’re able to provide better support.

Aside from the girls, you also have your best friend Chani who serves as the typical comedic relief but has moments where his jealousy of the main protagonist makes him show his uglier side. You then have Yohan a complete enigma whose gentle nature makes him full of mystery and who, despite being one of the guys, is introduced as a valid romance option.

Ranking up your relationship with them also unlocks new moves from your skill tree. These skills aren’t a slouch in combat either as they can add better ways to fight against enemies. Yuna’s Stinger, for example, makes it so much easier to immediately get near enemies who pester you with ranged attacks. One complaint I have is that the minigames that they introduce while trying to rank up your relationships can sometimes be a bit too hard.

While saving the World is a plot that can be found in many JRPGs to the point that it’s almost expected, Eternights couldn’t be anymore blunt about it in the first hour alone. This is where the actual motivation to even save the world falls apart. So many things happen all at once and new questions keep rising faster which just makes everything confusing.

Despite all that though, Eternights does make up for it with rather humorous dialogue that made me chuckle. Even if the story wasn’t all that compelling the bickering and reactions between the main characters are what makes the journey worth it.

Eternights is a fun hack-and-slash game with dating sim elements. However, it has many flaws in design that hold it back from truly shining. It ultimately lacks something to make itself feel unique but the passion placed into this game makes it worth experiencing if you’re willing to forgive all its flaws. Eternights is definitely not a game for everyone.

Eternights review cover image
Eternights – Review
Score Definition
We want to emphasize that 5 will always be the “average” number, not 7. So by far, it’s 50% great and it’s also 50% bad.
Main cast is enjoyable and interesting
Combat feels fluid and fun to play
Writing is humorous and funny
Pacing of the story is terrible
Lighting can be bad even during combat
Rough uncanny animations and shaky camera
Shaky camera can be dizzying and stressful on the eyes