This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch but is also available on PC.
In Eternum Ex you take on the role of Sir Arthur who is nearing the end of his life. However, he isn’t very keen to die and instead goes in search of five orbs that when gathered together will bestow eternal youth upon our elderly hero. But the question is; is this journey one worth taking? Is this game any good? Read on anonymous reader and find out!
Eternum Ex is a game clearly made with one goal in mind and that is to evoke the feeling of playing a 90’s arcade game and the art style lends itself well to that. The game is brilliantly made with a 16 bit inspiration that will take anyone who grew up on older games back to the days of being in front of an arcade cabinet. But, with the added bonus of high definition. The sprites all look well designed and the colours are distinct enough to be able to differentiate the foreground from the background. This may seem like an obvious part of a game like this, however many older titles were less than stellar in this regard.
It’s hard to call this a story as it’s more of a “hook.” Because of the arcade atmosphere the game is pushing, we only see a few lines of exposition before the game kicks off and it goes like this: Sir Arthur is getting really old and during his life has lost everything and everyone close to him. With nothing left to lose he ventures to a faraway kingdom which holds large amounts of treasure and five magical orbs that grant eternal youth to those who gather them. All in all this is pretty empty but seeing as this game is trying hard to be “arcade-y” its more of a love letter to the days of past and I would be hard pressed to not appreciate that.
Eternum Ex is a 2D platformer where the goal is to open all of the treasure chests in a level and reach the exit before time runs out. However, obviously there’s more things that will get in Sir Arthur’s way. There’s stage hazards like spikes and then there’s enemies like orcs, imps, medusas, and many more.
Arthur controls well enough however he has a pitifully short range melee attack to kill enemies with and with Arthur dying at the mere touch of an enemy, this presents a problem where the player can feel cheated out of succeeding: it only takes an enemy to spawn right on your location and you neither have the time or the tools to fight back well enough.
On the bright side, Arthur isn’t stuck with his horrible attack all of the time. Throughout the levels you can find powerups which range from things like a timed fireball spell to fireball grenades which can make your journey significantly easier during the few seconds you are powered up for.
Obviously because it’s arcade title, the main goal of the game is to maximise the points you earn in each level and the way to do that is to maximise the amount of treasure earned from picking up chests “but how do you do that?” you may ask. Here’s a helpful tip: stand underneath a platform with a chest on it and jump into it, this opens the chest and fills it with a bit of treasure, do it again and it gets even more treasure. Doing this in a way that earns you treasure while completing the level quickly will net you plenty of points to satiate your high score needs.
Final verdict: I’m going to be honest, I had a huge amount of trouble getting into this game and was not very interested at all. There are a few factors that go into this: Firstly, I have no nostalgia for 90’s arcade titles and am a 90’s baby so I never got to develop that appeal in the first place. Secondly, this game gave me no end of frustrating deaths due to enemies spawning right where I was about to land after a jump and with spawning enemies seemingly being random in nature there was no effective way to deal with this and finally, the game is really repetitive. You will play the first few levels and see pretty much everything the game has to offer other than the boss fights which are okay up until the third one which will make you very aware of how having one hit until you die with no way to protect yourself can be frustrating.
However, to those who are looking for a more objective opinion I can say that Eternum Ex definitely meets expectations as a title that tries to bring in the 90’s arcade feel and will present a fun challenge to those who are interested in that style of gameplay. Despite my misgivings and frustrations and despite the game’s flaws it really does try and succeed at what it’s trying to do.