The gaming industry’s ability to tell an emotional tale has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, with the likes of Limbo, Dear Esther and the Life is Strange series, amongst many others, leaving long-lasting impressions on those who play them. It’s fair to say such games have grown so much in popularity now that it’s common for many games to focus far more on the narrative exposition than the gameplay itself, offering fairly simple gaming experiences whilst telling hard-hitting, sad stories.
Eternal Hope, developed by Doublehit Games, is one such title, offering a relatively simple puzzle platforming experience soaked in emotional depth and offering an experience that hits a little different from the established triple A scene.
You play as Ti’bi, a young boy tasked with finding his lover’s soul after she is brutally taken away at the beginning of the game. What follows is an emotional journey ride with hardship, tribulations and also puzzles, because it’s a video game, so of course, there are puzzles. Split across 11 chapters, Ti’bi travels across the world collecting the remnants of his lover’s soul in order to bring her back.
Working alongside an otherworldly god who promises to return your lover should you find her souls, Ti’bi uses a special power bestowed upon him to call on the beings of another dimension. Using the support of these beings, Ti’bi can make it across gaps, scale heights and generally make it past areas he couldn’t normally. This skill has a stamina bar, so it’s on players to use it sparingly and timely or Ti’bi can die.
Eternal Hope isn’t all that original in its gameplay or presentation, feeling very similar to the 2010 smash hit Limbo. The moment to moment gameplay feels almost identical, mirroring much of the structure, albeit with a different graphical style. I’m not completely against this though, as Limbo is an absolutely stellar game and I’m all up for other developers mimicking its core gameplay to create a fresh experience.
Unfortunately, Eternal Hope never quite hits the same high. Its story plays on themes of love and loss, but the writing is never as powerful as the heights it aspires to. This isn’t to say the story is unenjoyable, with a few twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout, but I felt the team could have done more with the premise. It’s also incredibly short, clocking in at just short of two hours. I felt Eternal Hope ended before it really kicked into gear, which is a real shame as the world and the characters are excellent. There are a number of collectibles hidden throughout the world, so these do at least offer some form of replayability.
The world around the main narrative is absolutely stunning, with dense backgrounds almost acting like a tapestry against the action in the centre. Eternal Hope has a dreamy, surreal visual look to it, which perfectly fits the game’s overall aesthetic. Unfortunately, the soundtrack doesn’t quite match up to the visuals, with much of the score feeling overly simplistic and a touch repetitive at times. It’s a real shame, because a top-notch score could have underpinned Eternal Hope’s more emotive moments perfectly.