Let’s address the Unicorn in the room: despite Eternity: The Last Unicorn being set in Norse Mythology, Unicorns never actually made an appearance in the original sagas of the Vikings. Instead, the horned horse that would go on to sell copious amounts of children’s pyjamas actually originated in ancient Mesopotamian artwork, before sidestepping Paganism entirely and cropping up in the Christian cultural consciousness. This mythological misstep is the least of this game’s problems however, as Eternity: The Last Unicorn is a terrible video game.
The plot, delivered by poorly written text boxes, is utter tosh. Four unicorns were responsible for bestowing the elves of Alfheim with eternal life, and now three of those magical creatures have popped their hooves thanks to a mysterious evil spell. It’s up to a young elfish warrior, Aurehen, to go on a quest to save the last unicorn.
Eternity is best described an attempt at an old-school action RPG; the game is played from fixed camera angles, invoking pleasant memories of Onimusha: Warlords for me, before those same memories were soured by having to play this hot mess. Aurehen, despite being an elf – a fantastical race renowned for their grace and athleticism – moves with all the grace of a flatbed truck. She thunders down woodland corridors, her tiny feet pounding the ground like a Sasquatch, as she repeatedly walks into some small shrubbery that is blocking her path.
The fixed camera results in a number of problems, there are moments when the camera refuses to switch location even though Aurehen has left the screen. This led to ‘hilarious’ instances where I had to try and navigate Aurehen back through an area by memory alone, as I was left looking at an empty environment. Then there’s the already clumsy combat, which is rendered impossible to follow by the fixed camera angles. I found myself unable to tell if the swinging club of a troll-like creature would connect with my avatar or not. The game didn’t seem to know either, sometimes letting the strike pass harmlessly through Aurehen, other times rendering her instantly dead, even though the attack clearly missed.
Matters aren’t helped by an unwieldy health bar that remains undiminished, even though Aurehen has already collapsed in death. This becomes particularly frustrating when a health potion has been applied, but does not save Aurehen because, despite the health bar telling you otherwise, she’s already long dead and has entered a state of rigour mortis. Then again, Aurehen doesn’t always realise that she’s dead and can keep on fighting until her enemy is defeated before flopping over for no reason at all.
When the combat does work, it’s standard at best. There’s light and heavy sword attacks, a graceless crab-like dodge, a finisher for when the enemy is weakened, and a special attack that is irritatingly tied to a shoulder button and far too easy to activate at the incorrect time. The delay between input and action is such that there’s no satisfaction to be gained from victory; whether Aurehen won or lost, I felt like I had little control.
All of this results in hugely painful difficulty spikes, swarms of enemies turning Aurehen into elf meat in an instant as she ineffectively attempts to respond, prompting a lengthy retracing of steps from a poorly placed checkpoint. The best option I found was simply to avoid combat entirely and run past every enemy on the way to the exit. This works until a boss is reached, at which point you might as well bash your controller repeatedly against your noggin – you’ll have the same chance of success as if you actually play the game.
One rare positive is that the visuals are reasonable for a small release such as this, woodland is suitably bright and lush whilst the many subterranean caverns look like, well, dark caves. Enemies, particularly the larger varieties, also do a decent job of aesthetically aping those found in Capcom classics, but there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen a hundred times or more.
Apparently, there’s another playable character, a Viking warrior named Bior, but I never unlocked him as the combination of appalling gameplay, forgettable visuals and unforgivable difficulty spikes brought Aurehen’s quest to an unexpected end when Eternity: The Last Unicorn was banished from my hard drive.